NEW BRIDGES OF FRIENDSHIP EMERGE FROM PARTICIPATION IN AFRICAN POLICY
A week ago the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia’s Executive Team Leaders sent out an appeal to SMNE members to raise funds to send SMNE Executive Director, Mr. Obang Metho, to the Leon H. Sullivan Summit; entitled, “Africa Policy Forum: A Vision for the 21st Century,” intended to bridge the gap between Africa, the U.S. and citizens in both places.
This conference, held in Atlanta, Georgia from September 24th to 28th, the invites included eight heads of African states—like President Jonathan Goodluck from Nigeria, former President John Kufour of Ghana and President Paul Kagame from Rwanda—as well as state dignitaries, celebrities, activists and delegates from Africa, America, Asia, the Caribbean and Europe.
As you probably already know, the SMNE is a peoples’ movement; empowered by Ethiopians at the grassroots level. This became more evident this past week as Ethiopians from eleven different countries—such as Norway, France, the UK, Germany, Ukraine and a number of cities in Canada and United States of America made donations in varying amounts; ranging from $10 to $250 dollars. Within two days, we reached our target and by Saturday, Obang was on a plane heading to Atlanta.
This was something very encouraging for all of us; showing that SMNE members are willing to back up their words of support with concrete financial help; making it possible to pursue such excellent opportunities as this proved to be!
The Summit was organized by the Sullivan Foundation; a conference held every two years that usually takes place in Africa, but this time was being held in Atlanta.
The themes of the discussions and plenary sessions were: “US Policy towards Africa,” “Securing Africa’s Economic Future through Competitiveness, Trade and Investment,” “Challenges and Solutions for Clean Water in Africa,” “Separation and Loss of the Next Generation,” “International Women’s Issues” and “Dual Citizenship; Bridging the Ties between African Americans and Africans.”
Mr. Obang wishes to greatly thank those who made this trip possible; saying he believes it was extremely worthwhile in making important connections to African Americans as well as to inform them about the truth of what is going on in Ethiopia. Mr. Obang attended most of the forums and met with some of the dignitaries and officials. He was able to speak out on a number of different occasions on behalf of Ethiopians and other Africans. Here are some of the highlights he shared.
“US Policy towards Africa”
The session, “US Policy towards Africa,” focused on the Obama administration’s policy regarding Africa over the last two years. A panel of eminent persons; including such people as General William “Kip” Ward; Commander, U.S. Africa Command, John Prendergast; founder of the ENOUGH Project, Susan Paige; Deputy Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for African Affairs and others, spoke about their vision for Africa and what goals they would like to see accomplished during the next half of the Obama administration.
There was general agreement among them that there should be greater focus on some of Africa’s worst areas of conflict. The “hotspots” specifically named included Somalia, Darfur, Southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Horn of Africa.
During a very interesting discussion period that followed, Mr. Obang challenged the panel to address the current U.S. policy of investing in a dictator rather than in the people; saying that lasting peace would never come to Ethiopia, the Horn and all of Africa as long as the US held tightly to this position.
He used the case of Ethiopia; particularly challenging General Ward and Deputy Assistant Susan Paige to consider how the Obama administration’s partnership with Meles in the War on Terror, resulted in turning a blind eye to how Meles was actually terrorizing his own people. Instead of reducing the risk of terrorism, such policies were actually backfiring in Ethiopia and Somalia where Meles’ brutal human rights violations were contributing to a more unstable, conflicted and radicalized Horn of Africa than ever.
I am appealing to each of you to forward it to all your friends. If you do, you will not just be giving a voice to our beautiful people, but you would be doing justice.
Thanks so much for your never-ending support. Don’t give up. Keep your focus on the bigger picture and reach out to others and listen! Take a moral inventory, be courageous and do right. Care about those who are suffering. Help create that new Ethiopia where humanity comes before ethnicity and where we are not content until all are free.
Kindest regards always,
Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia