Why Africans in the Diaspora?
Guest post by Zahra Dalilah, former African Diaspora Partnerships Manager
What is it about AiD that gets us excited?
Africans in the Diaspora was born in 2012 with a clear vision for a self-reliant Africa with a commitment to African-owned, -driven, and -led transformative change. AiD’s rebirth eight years on follows in these same footsteps, with a vision that speaks to the landscape we find ourselves in today.
AiD continues to hold a vision for building financial and practical infrastructure that cuts out the white man in the middle. Leveraging the resource of African solidarity, we believe that AiD is doing important work for a myriad of reasons.
We’ll start with four of those to give you some insight into why we operate the way we do and a glimpse into the dreams we have for this project.
The Africa Programme at Thousand Currents has, through Luam Kidane’s leadership, embraced a pan-African lens to talk about a continent, diaspora and a peoples. We believe the term African is not only a geographical marker but also a signification of historical relationships, cultural ties, and liberatory actions.
AiD is a further development of this pan-African vision. We are continuing to build on the examples of pan-African solidarity through dialogue which speaks to our connected, although diverse, experiences, and through manifesting our relationships into collective action. We are inspired by the boundless power to be harnessed in Africans uplifting Africans to realise African visions for social, economic, cultural and political change.
We all use a range of different words and phrases to articulate the peoples that we are calling upon when we speak of pan-African visions. For us, we recognise Africa as a whole continent, North, East, South, West and Central and including peoples on the continent and the diaspora. We recognise that African identity is complex. We also see the continued impact of racial hierarchies and histories of settler colonialism – and as a result we center and are led from the Black African experience.
Our dream for AiD is that Africans on the continent and the diaspora find connection with one another, bonded by a common cause and cultivating connections which nourish the soul. Over the next year, AiD will be focusing on building the trust necessary to be in real relationship with one another as the network begins to take shape. We are also aware that any project that appears philanthropic should be and is treated with caution – we want to take the time necessary to familiarise people with AiD as a project of Thousand Currents so that our institutional foundation can be explored early on.
For us, cultivating an articulable feeling of what it means to be part of AiD and engage with such a network is paramount. Connections, relationships, resonance, community – this is the stuff transformation is made of.
African liberation necessitates our consistency in challenging ourselves, our ideas and ideology. We believe that we are always learning and always need to be. For many, the politics and praxis of the Africa Program partners will push us to reflect and engage with our political consciousness around issue areas which may or may not have been so central to our lives. Being in regular dialogue with Africans in different contexts, we intend to incite meaningful learnings.
Funding and Fundraising
Fundamentally, Thousand Currents, the Africa program and AiD exist to move money to partners in the global movements for change that are offering the solutions our world needs. One of the key functions of AiD will be to raise funds to support the work of the Africa Program Partners of Thousand Currents. This too is an important part of the dream – to build a fundraising and funding model that can challenge traditional philanthropy so that it might be inspired to consider how philanthropic work on the continent could centre African ingenuity and solidarity. We want to support more of this work, through toolkits, videos and literature so that anyone with a pan-African vision similar to ours finds themselves in good company – connected and more powerful, together.
These are just a few of the reasons that we are excited to be on the journey of manifesting the vision for AiD. As we continue to move forwards on our path, we hold at the core a commitment to these four tenets of our work and stay guided and grounded by the dedication to all that is possible.