About a year ago, I discovered the twitter account @InnovateAfrica that could’ve possibly saved me four years of university student loans. I was mesmerized, and within minutes, engulfed in a world filled with Diaspora Africans deconstructing our identity, essentialist accounts of the African experience, media coverage, and development initiatives. For the first time, I suddenly felt connected to Africans in a way that wasn’t fetishized or idealistic but holistic and empowering. @InnovateAfrica became my daily go to source for African analysis, at times challenging conversations, and I was transformed into a groupie instantly. During my initial
stalking research, I discovered that the account belonged to Solome Lemma, A social media guru, activist, development specialist, and all around dynamic figure. I’ve always held this idea that my identity is challenged by my lived experience as a member of the diaspora, and rarely did I find solace or hope in this identity role. Now here was a voice, amplified by strong diaspora community tapping into our privileged role as Diaspora communities, and encouraging that we utilize this platform to facilitate a connection to the continent in a way that is symbiotic and conducive to our development aims.
Solome Lemma, through her activism, and decade of development work is a strong believer in the political/social/economic power that Africans in the Diaspora can yield, and argues that in this demographic, exists a resource pool untapped by our communities as of yet. Rather than consistently operating as reactionaries to misinformation, marginalization and fetishization of Africa, why not instead set up organizations, and a new paradigm that demands we create a reality that empowers ‘Africans for Africa’. Well I always thought it was easier said than done, but not anymore. Africans in the Diaspora(AiD) will launch its website this Tuesday October 9th 2012, and had the pleasure of engaging with Lemma, Co-founder and Executive Director about AiD’s purpose and how this organization can tap in the resource pool that is Africans in the Diaspora. According to Lemma, Africans in the Diaspora (AiD), “Through its Funds, Connections, and Voices Program, will offer an online platform for Diaspora Africans to give back to Africa. Funds enables Diaspora Africans and allies to invest directly in innovate African social organizations; Connections facilitates the exchange of expertise between the Diaspora and Africans on the continent; and Voices a multi-media blog, amplifies the voices of Africans and their contributions to Africa’s progress.”.
As a member of the Somali Diaspora, I’m particularly interested in AiD’s Funds program, as I think this type of initiative is an important step in responding to the NGO industrial complex that often misuses funds, and perpetuates a state of dependency that compromises African autonomy. I think the diaspora is gaining momentum, and now is the time to pool our resources together, and implement structural frameworks that can transform us into agents of change rather than dependent reactionaries. Through social media, we now have access to a rich network of Africans throughout the globe, who’ve come together to respond to orientliast depictions of our experiences, and who also challenge those voices in positions of power who seek to drown out our own. But, we also need to go a step further, and actually set up organizations that not only act as reactionaries but give us the platform to respond and empower continent through direct investment.
AfroLens is excited about AiD, and we will be live on twitter this Tuesday October 9th, where Africans in the Diaspora (AiD) will launch its site and will answer any questions and concerns regarding this exciting new project. You can contact Africans in the Diaspora (AiD) @…
Twitter : https://twitter.com/AIDInnovations
Website : http://africansinthediaspora.org/
Facebook: Africans in the Diaspora (AiD)
See you Tuesday!