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Marla Gibb's accepts her African Goodwill Award.
Antwon Fisher accepts his African Goodwill Award
Obba Babatundé on red carpet at the African Goodwill Award
(Photos by Hosea D. Boyd)
Unifying Africans and African Americans in the Diaspora
Africans on the continent and Blacks in the Diaspora have been separated by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade for four centuries. But Uchenna Nworgu has worked consistently to reunite them.
In April, at the Radisson Hotel LAX, African Focus, his non-profit, cultural exchange program, celebrated its 10th Anniversary of the African Goodwill Awards & Family Inductions.
The awards ceremony honors individuals and organizations doing good works in Africa. This year’s officiant was His Royal Majesty, Fon Fozoh II, Awing, North West Region, Cameroon.
The very spiritual Family Inductions are the true heartbeat of the historical event. They began the process of restoring the lost identities and dignity to more than 40 proud and eager individuals and couples before approximately 750 guests that evening. They are necessary to Africa’s progress, Nworgu stated.
“We can have all the unions, AU’s (African Union). We can have all the economic stimulus with the West, with the Chinese, with the Japanese, with the Europeans. All of that is hogwash until we begin to incorporate, to empower the Diaspora to be part of the African Renaissance,” Ngorwu argued.
The Family Inductions provide a way to get the Diaspora involved in the economic problems of Africa, he continued. The process was inspired by his own observations as a youth at Loyola Marymount College. He’d read papers and heard lectures about how Africans and Blacks in the Diaspora were one, but no one offered a practical approach to solutions or methods to bring Black people closer to Africa and to bring them home, outright, Nworgu observed.
“I began to look more into how I or how we, as continental Africans,
how angry I would have been if I were on the other side and nobody’s telling me, ‘Yes. This has happened but you also have a tie. You also have a stake in the continent.’ Nobody’s telling me it’s okay to come home,” he said.
All people of African descent have a right to the Family Inductions, according to Nworgu. The message is one of inclusion and love but inductees must come through an African family, he continued.
While some people choose to trace their roots through DNA testing, African Focus doesn’t promote testing, nor is required to be inducted. But Nworgu said he does support it. People are paired with host families they located or another family of their choosing. But the process is encouraging, not forceful or imposing, he explained.
“Induction is not a hall of famer. It has a meaning to it. You don’t extend it to anybody who doesn’t deserve it ... Don’t try to use it as an award. Don’t try to use it because somebody has enriched your culture, has been doing things in your village, and now you want to induct them. No,” he insisted.
The Honorable Mulikat Akande-Adeola, majority leader of the House of Representative of Nigeria, received a Goodwill Ambassador Award for her efforts to eliminate violence against women, improve treatments for cancer, and to improve education and laws affecting children, among other things.
Award-winning actress Marla Gibbs received the African Goodwill Awards for Lifetime Achievement and was inducted into Ghana.
Other inductees were: Cameroon: award winning filmmaker Antwone Fisher, Sarah Doakes, Steven Rowles and Forescee Hogan-Rowles, Joyce Sloss, and Marshae Kinney; Zambia: Greg and Linda Wallace, Olivia Sims and Juanita Palacios-Sims, Amanda Wash, and Marie Keller; Nigeria: Richard and Jasmine Grant, Alba Aplicano, Stephanie Dillard, Leon Jenkins, Kim Hunter, Rev. Clarence and Sandra Washington, Guillermo Cespedes and Dominique DiPrima-Cespedes, and stage and screen star Obba Babatunde; Ghana: Tracey Jones and Eva Gallego; Tanzania: Naima Olugbala; Uganda: Don Kincey and Salim Faraji; Goree Island, Senagal: Tshombe Tshanti; and Congo: Danna Kiel.
Nehanda Sankofara, founder of the Nana Sekyiaabea Foundation and Mothers for Africa, non-profit efforts, which work to alleviate suffering in Africa and the African Diaspora, became involved in the Family Inductions three years ago. This year, Sankofara, also a Queen Mother in Ghana, joined King Awing and his court of chiefs and queens from different countries on stage during the ceremony.
She also presented awards to three Mothers for Africa supporters, who sponsor children in Haiti. Sankofara said she was attracted to the genuineness in African Focus and their efforts. It mirrored her feelings about Africa because never in her travels there has she felt like an outsider, she stated.
“The separation is real. It has happened. It has been planned ... But, we keep coming back because there’s a natural tie between us that no one can figure out from the outside because it’s there,” said Sankofara.