I was pretty critical of the Africa Society for honoring Chinua Achebe in an event at the Nigerian Embassy sponsored by Chevron. However, the Africa Society hosted a great networking event tonight to introduce its anticipated Youth Advisory Committee. I’m under 30, so it’s good to feel appreciated and I think that’s particularly important in the African context, where elders are often excessively venerated or cling too posiitons that should be forwarded on to the next generation.
Two representatives from the State Department were on hand to discuss Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (while I laud it, I do think that it gets an excessive amount of attention from the administration) and Cyrille Oguin, the Ambassador of Benin gave some brief remarks as well. He mentioned that Benin has a youth Service Corps that was inspired by the US Peace Corps (although I imagine that the AmeriCorps would be a better example).
While their flyer doesn’t indicate this, Bernadette Paolo, the Society’s Director did intimate that the Society is looking mainly for those in the Diaspora to join the Committee. I was intrigued to see that the crowd was primarily composed of individuals born in or very recently removed from the Continent. While that’s certainly good, it does concern me about the level of interest America has in Africa.
David Gilmour from State repeated an increasingly used line about developing Africa to promote America’s economy. Read a piece on AGOA where I touch on this and expect another post on this theme (via US participation in the World Economic Forum in South Africa) in the coming days.
In the meanwhile, let me know if you agree with the idea that ‘what is good for America is good for Africa.’