Black History Month 2019 officially launched

By Taigu Muchiri

Every year, USIU-Africa celebrates Black History Month during the month of February. On Monday February 4, Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Zeleza delivered the key note address marking the commencement of Black History Month 2019 activities.

Speaking during the opening, Prof. Zeleza mentioned that the African migration story can be turned into a success and not as a problem as viewed across the world.

The African diaspora is having a positive impact in the countries that they have chosen to reside in. As a member of the diaspora himself, the Vice Chancellor noted how acquainted he is with the challenges and opportunities of living and working in the diaspora. In his view, the African diaspora are indispensable to Africa and can contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by contributing gainful in their countries.

One such impactful and far-reaching initiative is the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program that has so far awarded 385 fellowships to African-born academics to work with host institutions in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana, to work on projects in research collaboration, graduate student teaching/mentoring and curriculum co-development.

Prof. Zeleza also reminded his audience of other impactful areas that the African diaspora can engage in such as the political, economic and social spheres in their home countries.

He pointed out that political involvement began as far back as the first generation of political leaders in Africa, who took up the reins of government in their newly-independent countries as a result of diaspora engagements. He called on the diaspora community to actively engage their governments and the diplomatic communities to bring about much needed change in development.

The diaspora economic contributions through philanthropy, skilled manpower, investments and remittances, have also become equally impactful by providing much needed economic boost in their home countries. Indeed a World Bank report shows that current remittance flows to developing countries currently stands at $457 billion worldwide and $69 billion to the African continent and this is projected to grow in the next couple of years.

Prof. Zeleza concluded by underlining the economic potential present in the Diaspora’s large trained and experienced work force that has the potential to turn Africa’s brain drain into brain gain and circulation. Most of the students who study abroad usually return home and transfer new knowledge and skills to improve and enhance development projects.

Other activities that will be the highlight of this year’s Black History Month celebrations include the evolution and history of Black History Month and linkage between black migration in Africa and the diaspora, refugees and displacement using an interdisciplinary approach to explain the illegal movement of the African people across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.

In the United States, the month will be observed under the theme “Black Migration” which emphasizes the movement of people of African descent to new destinations and subsequently to new social realities. While reflective of earlier centuries, this year’s theme focuses on migration patterns from the twentieth century to date.

The theme will also sensitize the community on the emerging issues related to black migration on the continent, inspire Africans to appreciate the continent and believe that they can succeed in making it a better place. The theme is expected to generate relevant discussions in our continent that are currently influencing policy in the United States and Europe.

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