Last November, Africa Agenda brought local experts and activists together to critically discuss American relationships with Africa in the first ever “Colorado Summit.”
The summit followed the ideas of President Barack Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit held in Washington, D.C. in August 2014. Held at the Posner Center, the event gathered representatives, professional groups and community members to discuss ways in which the U.S. might strengthen its relationships with Africa, and the nature of Colorado’s connections with Africa.
Speakers at the event included Denver city councilman Albus Brooks, Nairobi city chair with Denver Sister Cities International, Joseph Odhiambo, and Denver International Business Development Manager, Abdul Sesay.
Africa Agenda executive director George Bamu spoke about the significance of the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit during the event, and the mission of the Colorado Summit in relation to the precedents the event put forward.
“It was a fabulous … somebody called it a seminal event. And we’ve never had that before (it was) unprecedented,” said Bamu. “Fifty African heads of state and governments coming all together in Washington D.C. to talk about the development of the African Continent.”
He said the discussion at the Colorado event was intended to follow up that process with critical analysis of how relationships can be further developed and fostered.
“It’s about leadership, it’s about governance, it’s about the issues of women and children, it’s about issues of trade and investment…that is what this organization Africa Agenda represents.”
The event was put on as a joint effort of Africa Agenda and World Denver Young Professionals, a group focusing on professional development and bridge building between Denver and other cities nationally and globally. Board member Andy Astuno said the group focuses on world events and drawing connections to their effects in Denver.
“We are often surprised to find that they affect us in a number of tangible, very practical ways,” he said. “I think that this event tonight is an example of that.”
Councilman Albus Brooks also spoke about the significance of the event and the connections between Denver and the African continent.
“There are more connections in this room than you can even imagine,” he said. “I guess tonight, I guess I would just encourage us to continue to foster these ideas. Keep dreaming, keep pushing it, because it’s working.”
After approximately one hour of remarks by invited guests, attendees broke into smaller groups to discuss designated topics including women and girls, media, healthcare and energy. Ways in which to approach these topics were recorded and saved for the creation of a report and further community follow-up.
Next up: On November 20, Africa Agenda holds State of the African Continent, an evening to celebrate and reflect on the African continent’s current affairs, social change, and new developments. The organization is inviting the community to come and meet with, and learn about today’s African continent. The details are available here.
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