As the Sixth Regional Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) ends its 14th annual conference in Panama City, Panama, with the theme, ‘21st Century Pan Africanism: Moving Africa Forward’, Sehwah delegation headed by Madam Louise W. McMillan Siaway was in attendance. Siaway addressed the conference on the 3rd day, during which she highlighted the collaborative working relationship between SRDC, a US based Diaspora Pan African organization and Sehwah, a Liberia based organization over the past several years.
Through this collaboration, SRDC has supported projects which were highlighted in the PowerPoint and video presentations at the conference held in the Panamanian capital, Panama City from September 22nd through the 25th.
The Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) was founded in 2006 in response to an invitation from the African Union (AU) to the African Diaspora (people of African descent living outside of Africa, around the world) to become intimately involved in the African Union’s work toward uniting all African people towards self-determination and increased sovereignty within the continent and throughout the world.
According to Ms. Louise, former Deputy Minister for Culture of the Republic of Liberia, in 2018, Sehwah Liberia Incorporated, a non-profit organization, joined in partnership with SRDC to undertake projects that would strengthen the engagement between Liberia, Africa and the African Diaspora. Since then, Sehwah has participated in various SRDC conferences in Baltimore, Maryland, Charleston, South Carolina, New York City, New York, US Virgin Islands, Monrovia, Liberia, and this year in Panama City, Panama in Central America.
At the just ended conference, there were many presenters on various topical topics based on Pan African context. As such, it brought together participants from Africa including Liberia, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Suriname, Netherlands, Belize, Guadalupe Island and Panama as the host country. There were also other presenters who spoke through zoom links from Ghana, Tanzania, Nicaragua, Brazil, and other places. There was also a cultural performance by the Congo dancers.
These are Afro-Panamanians who hold on to their African roots through cultural performances at events. The theme for this year’s SRDC Conference was, ‘21st Century Pan Africanism: Moving Africa Forward’. In the opening remarks by participants at the conference, Liberian writer and member of Sehwah, Nvasekie Konneh said that Liberia as a nation is the perfect definition of Pan Africanism and that the man who is considered to be the “grandfather of Pan Africanism”, Prof. Wilmot Blyden, was a Liberian patriot. He also mentioned that Liberia was the African destination of Marcus Garvey’s Back to Africa Movement in the 1920s. Others who spoke at the conference were Dr. Prof. David Horne, International Facilitator of SRDC, Professor Edly Hall Reid of Costa Rica, Dr. Barryl Biekman from the Netherlands, Melvin Brown, an Afro-Panamanian, Dr. ChenziRa David Kahina, among others. A very moving poem, Homage to Africa was performed by Sis Miatta Stella Herring.
A special address at the program was delivered through Zoom by the President General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Community League, Akili Nkrumah. He talked about the historic roles played by Marcus Garvey in the liberation struggle of Africa and Africans in and out of Africa. On the panel discussion on Pan Africanism in Central, South and Latin America, the panel comprising of Dr. Horne, the International Facilitator of SRDC from the US, Edly Hall Reid from Costa Rica, Mrs. Bridget Budier Francis of Suriname/Netherland, and Dr. ChenziRa David Kahina, the Panel discussed the history of Pan Africanism in the region and how African people in those places accept and celebrate their African identities.
In her opening comment at the conference, Ms. Louise Siaway said, “Today, I have come humble in my stance but progressive in my thoughts about our vision of unity and connectivity as Africans at home and abroad. The SRDC must come to accept the view that the continent of Africa is ours and we should not allow others to do more than us in terms of our contribution and expectation of the development of the African continent.
“This vision has already been cast and we must all own it as we move forward. We must see the continent and people of Africa just as the Jews from all over the world consider the state of Israel as their home.” She went on to say that as Africans, “We should not sit on the sideline and complain about other groups of people investing on the continent. If others are investing in Africa, we too must invest as part of our efforts to contribute to the economic development of Africa.”
She highlighted the projects that SRDC is supporting in Liberia through its partnership with Sehwah. Among those projects are scholarships which have benefited more than 150 Liberian students, book distributions at 13 government high schools in 4 counties (Montserrado, Margibi, Bong and Nimba), 42 college ready students at University and the Liberia Pan African library and Cultural center project to be built in Monrovia, Liberia through the SRDC/Sehwah partnership. As of now, land has been provided by the government of Liberia for this library project. This and other SRDC supported projects have been hailed as marks of positive collaborative relations between Continental and Diaspora Africans.
Sehwah delegation included the Ms. Louise McMillan Siaway, Kalifala Donzo and his wife, Ciata Dukuly-Donzo, Miatta Stella Herring, Nvasekie Konneh and his wife, Mariam Sherif, and Brittany Nicole Nersar Hartman, the granddaughter of Ms. Louise McMillian Siaway.