"Whether we like it or not, our lives and out destinies are intertwined with the poor and hungry of Africa... ." (Dr. Joseph C. Kennedy - former senior vice-president of Africare from 1971 to 1999) Questions: What should be the proper relationship between Black America and Africa? Is the proper relationship between Africa and Black America that Black America should continue to pressure Washington to provide billions of dollars in aid, charity and other forms of assistance? Should Black America feel obligated to “pull Africa up by its bootstraps”? Is it reasonable for Black America to ask: “Why can’t Africa unite and do more to solve its own problems, rather than look to outsiders to it for them?” How much should Black America be involved in Africa’s affairs? Two sides of the same coin… One side - one opinion... Azubike Aliche ([email protected]) writes: There's no question that African Americans should be expected to pull the rest of Africa by the boot's strap, given the privilege of living in the greatest country on earth. To do this effectively, however, African Americans should find a way to empower themselves, first. They would need to go to school more, learn more skills, find a secure place in corporate and bureaucratic America, travel the world, make changes in their lifestyles, their values and consciousness. My experience is that the younger generation of African Americans are ill-equipped, mentally, to deal with Africans in their midst, much less care about Africans in the motherland. My experience is that African Americans, compared with Whites, are the first to tell me that I have an accent, that in fact I do not know the English language. African Americans are the least to be enthusiastic enough to ask me what part of Africa that I come from and to tell me that they have visited my country or planning a vacation to that part of the world. They are the least to be willing to take me home to know their houses and to be of help if I need one. Of course, when I talk about African Americans here, I mean, largely, the less formally educated ones; and they are many. The more educated ones are better able to communicate with me and to be empathic. They are more friendly. They are more apt to discuss socio-economic and political issues involving Africa. It is really a shame that Africans, both in Diaspora and in the motherland, can't yet find a common ground and a common cause that can bring them together to work for mutual benefit, in the interest of the black race. If we feel challenged enough by this article to take action, no matter how little, to advance the interests of Africa, humanity would be better for it. The other side - another opinion... Chioma M. Oruh ([email protected]) writes: I agree that African Americans have a place to play in the rejuvination of Africa, but what about the Africans (of direct parental hertiage)? I think we have a greater role to play than African Americans (descendants of slaves). I just came back from a vacation in Ghana, and am currently living in the Republic of Benin for the Peace Corps. I visited Cape Coast, which houses some castles (i.e. Elimina and Cape Coast Castles) which served as forts to the slave trade. I found that it was emotionally overwhelming, butspiritually exhuberating to see that we as a people can go through so much and keep on surviving. I think that the conditions exemplified in Cape Coast should excuse some of the happenings in America on the part of African Americans because that system was never created for them to succeed, so it should be no surprise why they can't succeed in 'the greatest country on earth' (despite the fact that this greatest country was built with their sweat and tears and free labor). The Africans have just as much apologizing to tell the African Americans as do the whites because it was a collaborative effort - it's to the Africans ignorance that we did not know what was up the white mans sleeves. Hence, an 'I'm sorry for selling you to those devils who ended up enslaving all of us anyways in some shape or form' is due first before any other talks. Then the problem gets even more intriquite because there is the divide and conquer rule that is still in effect, playing out in various tribalistic forms. Now, I'm not saying to not take pride in your tribe - I am a very proud Igbo woman. The problem is drawing the line as to where pride becomes subject for conflict and as soon as AFRICANS are conscious that the way we have pride does cause conflict, there will be no progress for the black people of this earth. History has told this story time and time again, and I suggest we play the role of the wise person and learn from it. I don't feel like conducting a history lesson but I hope you get the point I'm making. The bottom line is that we if we are really talking of the progression of our race and our home (Africa) then we need to not speak abstractly or pseudo intellectually or creatively but realistically and stragegically. The Japanese have a Four Hundred Year Plan, we're still collecting aide from USAID, SIDA,and the rest of foreign aide - I think it's time to wake up. Your opinion?