UNESCO hails involvement of Diaspora in African affairs

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- UNESCO deputy director in charge of Africa, Nouréni Tidjani-Serpos believes that with the evolution of information and communication technologies, intellectuals from Africa and the Diaspora do not need to return home before contributing toward continental development.
The problems related to the political, economic or professional environment as well as the inadequacy of structures in African countries "can be evaded in some cases by tapping in the immense opportunities currently offered by new technologies with distance work, Tidjani-Serpos told PANA Friday in an interview here.
"It is now possible for members of the African Diaspora to use their knowledge to serve the continent without being physically present.
You can, wherever you are, bring something to Africa," he told PANA on the fringes of the ongoing Conference of Intellectuals from Africa and the Diaspora.
"In fact, we know that the African Diaspora is essentially composed of men and women who have left their original countries because they are unsatisfied with the political system, how public wealth is distributed or prevailing social policies," he observed.
Therefore, a return to roots would first require that African leaders consider the legitimate aspirations of the Diaspora in order to arouse their renewed interest in contributing to continental development.
Nevertheless, Tidjani-Serpos expressed confidence that the initiative to involve intellectuals in African development would bear its fruits, and hailed the changes in the past few years between intellectuals and African leaders.
"In the 1960s and the 1970s, intellectuals were regarded as subversive, dangerous elements.
"Today, notable progress has been recorded in Africa, regarding human rights.
It is enough to scrutinise the mechanisms set up by the African Union and NEPAD to understand that they institute the consideration of values such as good governance, respect of human rights, etc.
Therefore, it is becoming somewhat difficult to bar people from expressing themselves," the UNESCO executive analysed.
When it opened Thursday, the Conference of Intellectuals from Africa and the Diaspora failed to ease the concerns of some delegates fearing lest their hopes should be shattered by poor follow-up to the recommendations of the meeting.
But the UNESCO representative differs, saying the Senegalese proposal, which was relayed by African Union Commission chairman Alpha Oumar Konare to make the Diaspora the sixth region of Africa, is "a guarantee for success strengthened by the Dakar conference".
Yet, also included in the Diaspora is that large community of non-intellectual Africans earning their living by the sweat of their brows in Europe, America and Asia.
"They have not waited for the conclusions of the Dakar conference to contribute in developing their respective countries," Tidjani- Serpos said, citing the example of Malians in the Diaspora, who, at all times, have pooled their resources to develop communities in their country.

08 october 2004 19:50:00

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