|Chamberlain S. Peterside, Ph.D||Tuesday, April 26, 2005|
New York, NY, USA
ANNOUNCE THIS ARTICLE TO YOUR FRIENDS
BRIDGING THE CULTURAL DIVIDE BETWEEN AFRICA
AND THE AFRICAN DIASPORA
am truly honored to be here in your midst this afternoon to discuss black heritage with the well respected poet and noble laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and Major David Dinkins, first black Major of New York City.
Archeological findings suggest that mankind originated from the African continent and through the process of migration over million of years became dispersed across the face of the earth. Black people today come in different shades and skin tones and could now be found in practically every continent on earth. It was the famous reggae singer Peter Tosh who ones said that "no matter where you come from, as long as you are a black man you are African" Some like Whoopy Goldberg (the Actress) will beg to disagree.
The key historical factor for the dispersal of Africans across the globe are two-fold: the transatlantic slave trade and in the post war era, migration of Africans overseas, this time by their own volition. UN report just published actually estimates that more Africans have migrated from the continent since 1990 than during the whole period of slavery.
Africans wherever they find themselves have been faced with a myriad of challenges such as maintaining their socio-cultural identity and achieving collective economic empowerment. Black people as a race have so far failed to pull its weight in the committee of nations due to poverty, mismanagement of its natural resources and lack of cohesion. Critics argue that much of Africa's problems are self-inflicted. That not withstanding the African culture is today still alive and well in several places outside the continent both in the Caribbean, North and South America as well as in Europe. The huge economic burden on the African race to my mind is one of the critical factors militating against the achievement of cultural integration and the necessary level of cohesion between those at home and in the Diaspora.
Earlier attempts to forge robust economic partnership and socio-cultural ties between the continent and the Diaspora had limited success. Legend has it that the Jamaican-born activist, Marcus Garvey even formed a shipping company - Black Star Line in the early part of twentieth century, for the purpose of repatriating Negroes back to Africa. Fortunately in recent years, there has been a rising level of cooperation on the political front between African leaders at home and in the Americas. US African-American political leadership has been instrumental in achieving recent political strides in Africa.
One of the issues confronting Africans globally today is that of retaining their cultural identity as they become economically emancipated. Poverty, disease, brain drain, debt burden and asymmetry of dependence are some serious huddles that must be surmounted. Alleviating those problems would enable us continuously bridge the cultural divide. Despite the fact that no one is born or breed to hate themselves or their kind, experience shows that, some times as Africans in the Diaspora attain higher level of economic success and climb the social ladder, they gradually start to lose consciousness of their cultural heritage and alienate themselves from their ethnicity or the continent, as if they are ashamed of their African origin. I call that the "Acquired Success Syndrome (ASS)".
Just to put some of Africa's economic problems in contest:
The Flip Side
Questions to Ponder
Before I conclude as you leave here today, let me pose some questions worth considering:
By addressing these key issues, every one of us could set the stage for future empowerment and building closer ties with our kit and kin back home.
Chamberlain is the Founder & President of New Era Capital Corp. and MyCompleteFinance.com, a New York based financial services group. He was previously a Financial Advisor in the Global Private Client Group, of Merrill Lynch.