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African Union - Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus/New York (SRDC/NY)

Bakary Tandias Statement
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Bakary Tandia’s Statement

To the Council of Elders for 6th Region of New York

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First of all, I want to thank our Council of Elders for considering my request to serve as an Observer to the Afrikan Union for the 6th Region for New York.  My utmost thanks to them for using their wisdom to guide the process whereby the representatives and observers to the Afrikan Union will be selected.

 

I am the Ex-President and co-founding member of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Mauritania, Inc., an organization focusing on the issues of slavery and racial discrimination against Black Mauritanians. I have been working closely with grassroots organizations in Mauritania.  Currently, I am the co-chair of the Afrika Peace Tour, an organization educating US public opinion on U.S. policy toward Afrika by advocating for social justice and human rights protection.  Most recently I have been designated to take the leadership of a newly formed organization, Forum for Afrikan Immigration Associations (FAIA). The main goal of FAIA is to advocate on behalf of Afrikan immigrants and build bridges between Afrikan immigrants and other immigrant communities and allies, and most importantly to strengthen the relationships between Afrikans from the continent and Afrikan-Americans.

 

I strongly believe in the integration of the continent of Afrika as a unique way for us to put our destiny into our own hands. I am always eager to take any step, no matter how small it may be to make my contribution toward the GOAL of Afrikan unity. I have been working with Afrikans with the same passion regardless of the country or origin. It is always a blessing to be able to support any individuals or organizations working for the well being of Afrikan people. 

 

I had the opportunity to lend my humble support to many Afrikan leaders while on speaking tours in the U.S. I helped and supported organized meetings in New York for the following Afrikan leaders:

 

  • President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast, then opposition leader
  • Koigi Wa Wamwere, political opponent to Daniel Arap Moi, now a member of the Kenyan parliament
  • Yorogar Lemoiban, opposition leader in Chad
  • Dr. Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, General Secretary of the Global Pan Afrikan Movement & Director of Afrika Justice, Uganda
  • Wahu Kaara, Ecumenical Coordinator for the Millennium Development Goals at All Afrika of Churches & the Global Call Against Poverty, Kenya

  

I have also been working with my brothers and sisters in the Diaspora with the Afrika Peace Tour, I am the Co-Chair and the organization is ninety percent Afrikan-American. We have successfully worked together in bring speakers from various countries to educate our brothers and sisters here, about issues affecting them, and learning about the challenges faced by Afrikans in the U.S. Working with my sisters and brothers in the U.S. has helped me to understand the Afrikan-American experience in America.

 

During Black History Month in 2004 for the Forum for Afrikan Immigrant Associations, as the President I organized a panel discussion on; Afrikan-Afrikan American Communities: Strengthening our Relationships. The speakers were Jerry Herman, a civil rights activist, and Milton Allimadi, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of Black Star News. In addition, I had the chance to interact with and learn from Afrikans around the world. I had the opportunity to further this work during the World Conference Against Racism.  As a member of one of the Afrikan NGOs coordinating the event, I worked with Afrikans and Afrikan descendants from around the world through a caucus that was formed.  We were able to come up with an Afrikan agenda for the conference which was collectively supported. We advocated for a language reflecting our concerns such as; (the Atlantic-slave trade, colonialism as crimes against humanity, and reparations for those crimes) should be included in the declaration of the NGOs Forum.  This is an example of successful collaboration. During the process of the conference from the regional meeting in Dakar, the PrepCom in Geneva and the conference in Durban, I served as an interpreter to facilitate meetings or communications between individuals.

 

As a panelist, I attended the “Afrikans and Afro-Descendants Worldwide United for Action” Conference from April 8th – 9th 2005 in New York.  I participated on the panel: Afrikan-Americans & Afrikan-Expatriates.  The conference was sponsored by the Institute for Research on the Afrikan Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean, and Pan-Afrikan Strategic and Policy Research Group-USA.

 

I also attended the Barbados and Suriname conferences respectively in 2002 and 2004 sponsored by the Global Afrikan.  At both conferences I was invited to talk about racial discrimination and slavery against Black people in Mauritania. I played a key role in the international campaign that led to the liberation of anti-slavery leader Boubacar Messaoud and other Human Rights Activists imprisoned on January 17, 1998. Since 1995 to 2001 I have been participating in speaking tours sponsored by American Friends Service Committee, touring with American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). I have traveled all across the United States educating Americans about Slaveholding practices, as well as Human Rights abuses in Mauritania. 

 

In October of 2002 I introduced a resolution on slavery and forced Arabization in Mauritania and Sudan that was unanimously adopted by the Conference of Afrikan and Afrikan Descendants World Conference Against Racism in Bridgetown, Barbados from October 2 through the 6th of 2002. It was a follow-up to the United Nations World Conference Against Racism that was held in Durban, South Afrika.

 

I am employed as a Case Manager and Policy Advocate at the Afrikan Service Committee, Inc.; a social services agency providing cultural and linguistic appropriate health/social services to Afrikan refugees and immigrants in New York City.  In that capacity, he has been able to serve as a bridge between providers and Afrikan immigrants with diverse cultural background.

 

To help Afrikan immigrants to get respect and to receive the services they need, I have been presenting a series of cultural competence workshops to various institutions: hospitals, colleges, city agencies in New York City to educate providers about Afrikan culture.  The participants include physicians, social workers and nurses, students and police officers.

 

Besides that I have been advocating on behalf of Afrikan immigrants on various issues. I testified on health and immigration issue at public hearings held by the Council of City of New York and New York State Assembly.  In addition, I led legislative visits to Albany and Washington, D.C., regarding health and immigration issues relevant to the community.

 

I was born and raised in Mauritania. I was trained as criminologist at the University of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.  Because of the political situation in my country, I had to leave. I arrived in the United States in May of 1992 and was granted asylum in 1994. I am now attending John Jay College of Criminal Justice majoring in international criminal justice.

 

I strongly believe in the capacity of Afrikans to achieve their unity and to take their destiny in to their own hands.  I have the motivation and the determination to make a contribution towards this noble mission.  I will be honored to serve my people through this new path that we are bridging.

FORWARD EVER, BACKWARDS NEVER!

AFRICA MUST UNITE AND AFRICANS MUST UNITE!