It has been a while since I’ve made it to a Young African Professionals networking event. Yesterday’s event featured Farai Gundan, a Zimbabwean who came here for university and appears to have stayed ever since. The event was at what I think is a new YAP location, Current, but it stayed in the same Dupont area. The lighting was a bit dark, which defeats my camera phone, but the YAP site should have plenty of photos.
YAP events typically have a decidedly west African flavor, so it was refreshing to hear a speaker from southern Africa and meet several central Africans in attendance. Despite the bad weather, the turn out was fairly high.
My more discerning readers may be a bit disappointed with this recap, it was a bit difficult to hear, Farai’s talk was a bit disjointed, and I left my Africa in DC paper and pad at home. That said, most of Farai’s remarks appear to have reflected a moderated view of the indigenization and empowerment rhetoric espoused by ZANU-PF in Farai’s homeland of Zimbabwe (or one could just say pan-Africanist).
She spoke of the need for those in the African diaspora to pool their economic resources and mentioned the work that she has done through the launch of a website that promotes bookings for travelers in Africa (some sort of Afrocentric Expedia).
Farai started by speaking ill of her experience as a cog in a corporate machine. However, she left me with the feeling that she merely desired to be a figure or renown in that very same world, she spoke repeatedly of building her own corporate ’empire.’ While Farai is undoubtedly a very motivated women (and she did not hesitate to tout her own work ethic – even patting her own shoulders for being willing to go into rough parts of LA for for a makeover) I got the sense that she is just as out of touch as other folks I have critiqued on these pages, such as Susan Rice. While she has been bold enough to pursue her passion, the underlying message for me was that the accumulation of money was her central motivating goal (after all, can one adequately manage all aspects of an empire on their own?).
Farai writes for Forbes, is behind a microphone on tv for a regular basis, and has been interviewed by Oprah. All very well and nice, but those whose main message and interest is in self-promotion ultimately hold little interest for me.