Faure Is Trying to Exploit Pan-Africanism With Togo’s African Diaspora Economic Forum

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Robert Dussey, Togo’s Minister of Foriegn Affairs

It was brought to my attention recently that Togo is preparing to host the first African Diaspora Economic Forum to encourage the African diaspora to be more engaged in Africa’s development. It is interesting that the same military regime which murdered a Pan-Africanist like Tavio Amorin is now championing an effort to foster Pan-African unity between Africa and the African diaspora, but it is hardly surprising given how desperate the regime in Togo has become to improve its international image. This has included paying American firms $1,500 an hour for the purpose of improving Togo’s international image. Engagement with the diaspora seems to be another attempt for a desperate dictatorship to improve its image, find new allies, and secure business investments.

Robert Dussey gave this description of the forum:

It would be a major business meeting that will develop sustainable and fruitful partnerships with members of the African Diaspora and other partners. It would also be a real platform of mobilization for the launching of a directory of African skills and the mobilization for the emergence of a powerful and influential African lobby capable of supporting the development strategies of the continent. It would finally be the framework for the adoption of the “Lomé Declaration on Black Community Engagement for Africa’s Development”.

Togo is perhaps trying to capitalize from the success of Ghana’s Year of Return by reaching out to the members of the diaspora who are eager to engage with Africa. Whereas Ghana is promoting a return home for those in the diaspora whose ancestors forcibly stolen from Africa, Togo’s forum is about economic investment. The forum will be held on November 28 and 29 in Lomé, Togo’s capital.

What I also find especially interesting about this forum aimed at the diaspora is that since the protests began in 2017, Africans in the diaspora have generally become more attentive to the political situation in Togo and many of us have been very vocal in our criticisms of the government there. I speculate that one of the reasons for this outreach to the diaspora is that the government of Togo recognizes that the support of the African diaspora is critical for sustaining itself in power given that historically the African diaspora has been driving force for a lot of political developments in Africa. For example, Africans in the diaspora played a significant role in the decolonization of Africa and in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. The government of Togo no doubt is concerned about the possibility of the African diaspora mobilizing in support of the Togolese masses who have been demanding an end to five decades of dictatorship.

If the government of Togo is serious about engagement with the diaspora then the first condition for such engagement should be the resignation of Faure Gnassingbe, which is what the people of Togo have been demanding. But we in the diaspora will not allow ourselves to be used as accomplices in Faure’s crimes against the people of Togo. And those of us who are committed to Pan-Africanism will not stand by and watch in silence as Faure attempts to exploit Pan-Africanism in his latest attempt to try to fix his tainted image among the international community.

Dwayne is the author of several books on the history and experiences of African people, both on the continent and in the diaspora. His books are available through Amazon. You can also follow Dwayne on Facebook and Twitter.

Dwayne Wong (Omowale) is a Guyanese born Pan-Africanist, author, and law student.

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