Background on Africa Agenda

Africa Agenda
Journalists, professors, students and community leaders engage in a discussion about the significance of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2009 visit to Ghana.

 

Founded on December 11, 2004 by George Bamu and formed as a 501 C (3) non-profit organization, governed under Colorado State and the Internal Revenue Service(IRS) laws, Africa Agenda’s mission is to foster understanding through engagement with the community, mass media outlets, leaders and lay people. We envision a world in which the vibrant contributions of Africa and African society make a better life for everyone.

More than an information portal, Africa Agenda is a news media and education organization and a work in progress. The organization plans to be a leader in the projection of positive, balanced and accurate news which reflects the diverse nature of the continent. Over these 13 years of our existence we are pleased by what we have achieved despite the circumstances. Some of the highlights are spelled out below.

Since March 2005, we have conducted over two hundred (200) breakthrough Africa-related events around the Denver metro area. The organization has invited top officials within African, U.S government and non-governmental organizations to Denver for discussions about African development. During this time, the organization not only partnered and worked with over fifty (50) organizations and communities; our activities have placed increasing focus on the significant role that a vibrant Africa can play in the world today.

We have collaborated with the Peace JAM Foundation, Rocky Mountain PBS TV, Denver Film Society, the City of Aurora, the Community College of Aurora, the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, East Africa Community Center in Greeley, the University of Colorado in Boulder, Regis University, Liberty Day, The Women’s Bakery, Energy Africa Conference, Metropolitan State University of Denver, the African Leadership Group (ALG), University of Denver (DU) Students for Africa, Africa Initiatives at the Josef Korbel School of International Relations at DU, the Denver Presbytery, Colorado Black Round Table, Smoky Hill High School, Project CURE, among many others.

These relationships have proved fruitful in forging education and development within the African community in Colorado.

In 2008, Africa Agenda held the Zimbabwe Talk as well as the Kenya Media and Citizens Dialogue, organized in the aftermath of election violence in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Throughout 2009, Africa Agenda accomplished numerous positive news reporting in the Colorado media market; including in-depth Africa articles, broadcast reports, workshops and conferences in the Greeley Tribune, Aurora Sentinel, Aurora Channel 8 TV, Aurora Comcast Channel 54 TV and the Denver Urban Spectrum respectively.

As part of a freedom of information (FOI) initiative dubbed the Cameroon Information and Education Day (CIED), Africa Agenda printed and distributed 1000 booklets of the revised and hard-to-find Cameroon constitution, using locally donated paper. You can learn more about CIED through the resources section of this website.

In May 2009, we launched the Cameroon Information and Education Project (CIEP), to help bridge the knowledge and information gap about Cameroon. As part of the CIEP, the organization invited leaders from the Cameroon embassy in Washington D.C. and the local community to discuss the future of Cameroon. In a period of four months, the CIED distributed over 600 free pocket-size copies of the revised Cameroon Constitution. The booklets include the April 2008 constitutional amendments made by the Biya administration.

In July 2009, Africa Agenda organized Obama, Ghana and John Atta Mills in reaction to President Obama’s visit to Ghana. This was a historic event for the Ghanaian nation and for Africa Agenda as well. The forum attracted over 25 participants, including journalists from the local media. For one thing, the discussions led to a recommendation for Africans to take ownership of the affairs of Africa and not remain as bystanders.

In December 2009, Africa Agenda invited and hosted Dr. Chris Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (N.D.I) in Washington D.C. We also hosted Cameroonian politician, Jean Jacques Ekindi in the lead-up to the 2011 Cameroon presidential election.

In 2010 and the first part of 2011, the board and staff of Africa Agenda met at a retreat to evaluate our progress since 2005.  In terms of our impact it was felt that we have performed a significant service to the community by exposing hundreds of students, professionals and citizens in the Denver area to the political and economic issues affecting Africans.  In looking forward, we all agreed that it was not enough. African issues are still seen as marginal to the life of the community and the challenge is to narrow our activity into strategic goals that will pay off not only in expanded awareness but also in building our organizational capacity and links to real news, information and debate.

Beginning in 2013 each year we’ve led the celebration of World Press Freedom Day in Colorado, a day set aside by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) to recognize the contributions of journalists and bloggers around the world as well as the importance to internet freedom as a foundation for international development.

In November 2014 Africa Agenda held the Colorado-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Denver, an event that was inspired by the historic U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit organized by President Obama in 2014. The Colorado Summit brought together an estimated 100 leaders to discuss opportunities for business, trade and education between Colorado and Africa.

In November 2015, the organization held The State of the African Continent, a two-hour soiree to honor the African continent and reflect on its developments. The event brought together more than 100 community leaders, including Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) presidential candidate Emmanuel Weyi.

In 2015 Africa Agenda began working with University of Denver Department of English professor Dr. Maik Nwosu on The Denver Africana Project, a year-long study of Denver’s African and African-American community. As a part of this we interviewed over 30 subjects about their experiences in the United States using a 12 point questionnaire . The results of the project can be seen here.

Meanwhile student internships are an integral part of Africa Agenda’s mission and vision. More than this, mentorship, motivation and inspiration are a part of who we and have become are an organization. To this effect in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively Africa Agenda offered journalism internship opportunities to students from the University of Denver and Metropolitan State University of Denver. Some of our interns have gone to work for organizations such as CBS News, Devex, as well as the National Cooperative Business Association in Washington D.C.

Other notable things we have done include new organizations that have emerged such as Denver-based Africa Development Promise by way of inspiration from our work. Some of these organizations have now picked up the mantle of Africa awareness in Colorado and around the world.

Africa Agenda is a community resource for journalists locally and internationally. Each year we receive more than 500 phone calls and hundreds of emails requesting Africa-related information and advice.

Over the years the organization has evolved in its mission. In the beginning we wanted to simply “enhance positive images of Africa” in the media because of concern about negativity about the continent that was impacting its socio economic and political development. In later years we switched gears to an activist approach that focused on countering misinformation and stereotypes by disseminating alternative news and events through our website. Because of this our website saw a surge in traffic of over 1 million visits each year from visitors, especially in the United States, who were longing for the latest African news and information.

In 2017 Africa News Matters, our new content website and an extension of the organization, was birthed. The decision was made to focus Africa Agenda toward the provisioning of training, tools and resources for journalists and news organizations. Meanwhile Africa News Matters assumed the critical watch dog role of tracking the news media and spurring actions to ensure fairness in journalistic reporting about the continent.

Africa Agenda has been the recipient of several small grants from organizations in Denver, including the Denver Foundation and the Denver Minority Opportunity Fund. Otherwise we have operated mostly thanks to in-kind donations and small contributions from individual donors.

While money is important and needed to achieve these goals it has not always been available to help us do our work. What has been available in plentiful supply is the enthusiasm of our volunteers who have braved the odds of criticism and the anarchy of African news to speak loudly and boldly about a continent and its people who deserve more than the daily grind that misrepresentation presents to them.

That an organization like us can attempt to drag the bull by the horns and speak truth to power is what we are doing. That money alone is not all that organizations need to chart the course of history is the truth. That the internet, with all its power and resources to communicate to a wider audience, is even more useful is beating the odds of the news is also true.

Yes–we can pat ourselves on the back for hanging in there. The African saying that a lizard that fell from the top of a tree, did not die, and had no one to congratulate it will congratulate itself holds true in our case. And with the Trump administration still in power in the U.S. the news is getting worse rather than being fair and balanced.

But we are just getting started. Even much more, we need to do justice to the African continent. Better journalistic reporting, fairness and accuracy, responsibility, better facts, better relations with the continent, better sources, and accountability constitute some of the core tenets of news reporting. Because–every story has a flip side.

Volunteers are an essential part of Africa Agenda’s mission and organizational strength. As a volunteer-led organization, with a lean budget of less than 50,000 annually, Africa Agenda plans to continue with its work of information and educating the community. Coming from local universities, partner African groups, journalists and African activists, Africa Agenda maintains a database of about 2000 individuals interested in engaging on African issues. We count on about 30 bloggers and website editors and a dozen others at any one time to help in the organization of events and activities. Will you join us?

Send us your encouragement through an expression of financial support. You can join us for our weekly staff meetings at our Posner Center office in Denver. You can volunteer as a writer, fundraiser, publicist, events planner, or development assistant. You can do an internship with us in journalism or media and communications. Or contact us to discuss your interests.

Mailing Address: Africa Agenda|1031 33rd St./Ste. 174/Denver, CO 80205

Phone: 303-341-1301|Email: Office@AfricaAgenda.org

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THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT