For years the African narrative was left in the hands of the West to tell.
It was mainly skewed to satisfy their perceived nefarious agenda against the development of Africa and people of African descent in the diaspora.
They told the stories of a continent in shambles inhabited by brutes without future. So, it was no surprise, President Donald Trump during a meeting with lawmakers on the protection of immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries last year in the Oval Office said: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”
The President of the most powerful nation in the world likened Africa to a “shithole” because of the one-sided narrative. One watches the major international broadcasters’ reports about Africa and wonders are there no success stories on the continent?
Those broadcasters deliberately and unabatedly churn out negative stories about Africa. Why, because bad news sells.
Enough is enough! The time has come for Africa and Africans in the Diaspora who are constantly marginalized and discriminated against to take charge and change the African narrative.
This is where Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote comes in, tired of the negative narrative that fuels the perception that Africa is a continent of savages, made a charitable donation of $20 million to The Africa Center in New York aimed at reversing the trend.
The donation was made at the Future Africa Forum held on September 23 in New York organized by the Africa Center in partnership with the Aliko Dangote Foundation.
The Future Africa Forum was a platform for sharing new ideas and strategies that challenge the structures and systems that support one-dimensional narratives of the continent, and that inform policies and ultimately affect the lives of African people, those of African descent, and the future of Africa.
Remarking on the donation, Dangote noted it was to support The Africa Center’s work in altering the global understanding of the continent and promoting partnership and collaboration between Africa and the rest of the world.
“The Africa Center is showcasing Africa in a contemporary, multifaceted manner as a center of innovation, growth, and limitless potential, which makes this project extremely important and worthy of support through my foundation.
“There is an opportunity to establish new narratives about Africa today, with its unrivaled mix of people, ideas, and resources, which are both its greatest strength and the basis for its tremendous, untapped promise.
“The connections The Africa Center will make between Africa, the United States, and the rest of the world, including members of the Diaspora, are needed more now than ever before,” he said in a media release distributed by APO Group on behalf of Dangote Group.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Center Dr. Uzodinma Iweala said the Center was proud of the donation made to it by Dangote to push the African narrative.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also announced a new $5 million grant at the Future Africa Forum. The Gates Foundation grant is directed to the Center’s capital campaign and for the development of its policy initiatives.
“We are profoundly grateful to the Aliko Dangote Foundation, the Mo Ibrahim family, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and all those whose generosity is enabling us to realize our plans to create a vibrant and essential center of ideas and action focused on the 54 nations and people of Africa and its Diaspora,” Iweala said.
He said the Capital Campaign had received remarkable leadership support from institutions and individuals that recognize the role “it has to play in building bridges between cultures in a globalized world village.”
“That support has enabled us to complete the first two public spaces and activate them with programming that has already proven to be compelling and popular among our local community.
“We are building on this momentum by reaching out to additional business leaders and global philanthropists and asking them to invest in the Africa Center’s mission,” said Iweala.
New York’s Cultural Affairs Commissioner, Tom Finkelpearl said: “The City is pleased to have contributed over $4 million in public capital support for the Center, which is already offering vibrant programming that solidifies NYC’s connections with contemporary Africa and provides a new anchor for Museum Mile at the northern end of Central Park.”
Africa Center is a leading non-profit institution focused on challenging historical stereotypes around the African continent. It is also a hub for creating an intersection of African policy, business, and culture and recreating narratives about Africa’s economic and cultural significance today and into the future.
This mission is guided by a leadership team that includes Board President Halima Aliko Dangote, Board Co-Chairs Hadeel Ibrahim and Chelsea Clinton, and CEO Dr. Uzodinma Iweala.
The Center has its physical presence on Fifth Avenue at the intersection of Harlem and the Museum Mile, a location that embodies the dynamism and diversity of Africa and its Diaspora in the heart of New York City.