The Diaspora African Forum is on a mission to build a bridge connecting Black America to Africa, and the Ghana-based organization has made a historic leap following the announcement of its first-ever U.S. office in Houston at AfriExpo 2023.
In collaboration with Houston Mayor, Sylvester Turner, the office is scheduled to open at Emancipation Park in January 2024 and will serve as a hub for “historical Africans” to obtain information, resources and guidance as they explore visits to the Motherland.
“This is a major step in building that bridge,” said H.E. Ambassador Dr. Erieka Bennett, Convening Founder and Head of Missions for the Diaspora African Forum. “The Mayor sees this as part of his legacy and wants it to be noted in history as something tangible with regards to supporting both Africa and the United States, particularly historical diasporans. Not only is he instrumental in helping us to establish a presence in the states, but he has been helpful in creating more awareness and connecting us with other mayors in LA, New York and Los Angeles.”
Amid changes in America’s economic, social, and political climate, a growing number of Black Americans have begun to do something that for decades was merely a figment of the imagination, or a running punchline. They are going back to Africa – and leading the charge is the Diaspora African Forum, located at the historic W.E.B. Dubois Center in Accra, Ghana.
Since 2019, nearly 2,000 black Americans have packed their bags and embarked on a new life in Ghana. This movement was ignited by the nation’s government campaign, “The Year of Return,” which marked 400 years since the first African slaves arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619.
Mayor Turner and a delegation of 30 members visited West Africa in July for a trade and investment mission, where they met with Dr. Bennett and other leaders to strengthen engagement between Houston and Africa, in addition to exploring cultural and economic opportunities. In accordance with African tradition, Dr. Bennett and her organization returned the favor by bringing their own delegation to Houston. The result has led to a powerful relationship.
“We are honored to be the first city outside of Africa to host a Diaspora African Forum Location,” Mayor Turner said. “Today’s announcement reaffirms Houston’s commitment to strengthening its bonds with the African continent and its diaspora.”
As the first and only diplomatic embassy in the world dealing specifically with Diaspora issues, the DAF is fully accredited and works closely with the governments of 55 African nations. Endorsed by the African Union, it has played a central role in reconnecting historical Africans to their ancestral lands by orchestrating educational and cultural excursions, guiding them in establishing their businesses, and offering a pipeline to citizenship. Several of America’s top black businessmen and women, as well as celebrities, are currently working with DAF to do business with or live in Ghana.
“We understand that for Africa to move forward, we need for people to come back with their talents and skills. If they don’t come back, we at least encourage them to look back,” Dr. Bennett said. “Ghana has only been independent for 66 years, so it is still developing.”
She continued: “The sky is really the limit. Don’t come looking for a job, come to create jobs and bring a team of people from different professions and build and contribute to the local community.”