Young Ambassadors meet African envoys

Submitted to Dorchester Banner
A group of local students and their chaperons visited three African embassies in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 25. At the Embassy of Ghana, they gathered for a photo, along with diplomats from that West African nation.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of young people and their chaperons reached out to African leaders — and those leaders welcomed them with warmth and understanding during a visit to their nations’ embassies on Feb. 25.

The trip was hosted by the Constituency for Africa (CFA), and its CEO/President Melvin Foote. The delegation from Cambridge, consisting of 27 people, went to the embassies of Mali, Ghana and Rwanda, in honor of Black History Month.

“The visits to the African embassies were nothing short of spectacular,” Mr. Foote posted online. “This visit to Washington was a direct follow-up to the CFA’s ‘Harriet Tubman Town Meeting on Africa’ that was held in Cambridge last September, as part of ‘A Day of Resilience.’

Other groups involved in planning and carrying out the visit were PDFD Youth Action Council, Alpha Genesis Community Development Corporation, the City of Cambridge and Harvesting Hope.

Omeakia Jackson of Harvesting Hope said, “We used our youth that mentor with us as Youth Ambassadors.” Many of those same young people took part in the Day of Resilience, and met the ambassadors who attended that event. It was there that the African envoys offered them a trip to the embassies.

“They learned a lot,” Ms. Jackson said. “It was a lot to take in. The images that they’ve been given, of Africa, are such a misconception. They have cities, beautiful landscapes. Even though at some point in time, they were colonized, they were able to fight for their freedom. They’ve been able to stabilize themselves. I think that’s important to see.”

The group visited the Embassy of the Republic of Mali to meet with Ambassador H.E. Mahamadou Nimaga; the Embassy of the Republic of Ghana to meet with Minister Genevieve E. Apaloo; and the Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda to meet with Lawrence Manzi, First Counselor and other staff of the three embassies.

Adrian Holmes of Alpha Genesis was pleased with the result. “It was better than I anticipated,” she said. She noted how kind the diplomats were, and said Ambassador Nimaga spoke to the youths about the experiences of African Americans and Malians.

“His message was about our similarities — taking care of each other,” in the tradition of African people. “It was so refreshing to hear that,” Ms. Holmes said.

It had an immediate and noticeable effect on the teens, as well. “Once they realized the impact of where they were, they stood up straighter,” she said.
Jermaine Anderson, who with Ms. Holmes founded Alpha Genesis, said he discussed with First Counselor Manzi the possibility of establishing a link with a city in Rwanda. “We started chatting about setting up a sister city,” Mr. Anderson said.

The students saw a variety of opportunities open up for them, in addition to the idea of a sister city in Rwanda. Ambassador Nimaga offered the group free visas to Mali, and some of the young people began asking about working in the Peace Corps.

“That’s how we grow as people,” Ms. Jackson said.

“The trip overall was a wonderful cultural experience,” Mr. Jackson said.