Is Charles Fall’s Victory A New Hope For African Immigrants in New York’s Politics?

Blue wave or not, Charles Fall, first generation American of Guinean immigrants winning New York State Assembly seat (for district) is a welcoming and an inspiring news to the growing African population in New York, especially the young ones who may be interested in joining politics.

 

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Charles Fall

Tuesday night, as journalists and political pundits analyzed and discussed the substance of the elections, some African immigrants across New York but mainly around Staten Island gathered at the democratic victory party to cheer the young, brilliant and energetic Charles Fall as he delivered his victory speech. In his speech, he pledged to advocate for the people of his district and he also acknowledged the role his parents played in inspiring him to serve. Although I couldn’t be there in person, I was there in spirit and fortunate enough to watch it via Facebook live.

Charles is a 29 year old who can serves as inspiration for many African immigrants in New York. He obtained his Masters in Public Administration from Pace University in New York and a Bachelor of Arts from Southwestern College in Kansas. He is married with a daughter. Not to delve into his credentials and biography too much, as most of the information are available on his website.

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Charles Fall with his wife and daughter

However, it is crucial to highlight the fact that Charles is a model first generation African immigrant who’s victory has pla Continue reading “Is Charles Fall’s Victory A New Hope For African Immigrants in New York’s Politics?”

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African Immigrants Involvement in American Politics

My social media feeds and timelines have never been this lit with go out and vote calls, especially from the African immigrants community since the 2008 elections, which brought in President Obama the first black president. Initially, I thought maybe the community has African candidates running. But, I came to find out that only one first generation African immigrant of Guinean origin is running for a seat in New York State Assembly. However, with little inquires, it became cleared that the go out to vote calls present the community way of speaking out for what is right and readiness to get more involved in the domestic politics of their adopted country. For many immigrants, it seems like today’s voting is beyond exercising one’s civil duty but rather a vivid reminder as to why America should love again.

To put it mildly, the current administration has exhibited its willingness to push for policies that directly or indirectly negatively impact thousands of immigrants while creating hostile environment. Arguably, many of my friends believe that the president recent threat to end birthright citizenship in the United States is not only unprecedented and racist it is a direct attack against core values of this country, which foster room for discrimination and hate against immigrant communities. To make matter worse, the administration inability to control the rise in xenophobic, racist, sexist and bigotry attacks against minority groups, especially the brown and black immigrants has energized many who are qualified to rise and exercise their fundamental and constitution right to vote. Immigrants understand that citizens are the highest decision makers in a truly democratic country like the United States. As a result, they have resolved to finding clever ways to get people out to vote for love against fear and hate that have been propagated during the past few months leading to the elections.

However, I cannot conclude that all the immigrants who voted today voted for the democratic candidates or against republican candidates or even if their votes made significant difference. Nonetheless, in the grand scheme of things, it is significant that the African immigrant communities in New York and around America are becoming actively involved in fighting for their interests. The notion that ‘we are visitors who can only be concerned about politics in our various African countries and have no interest in American politics is gradually fading off.’ America is our adopted home so it is time for us to add value to her political landscape as we have done in her educational and economical.

 

 

 

Importing western ideas is not new or the problem but leadership is… African Leadership Crisis.

A friend of mine asked me about my thoughts on the issue of importing American/Western style of government and practices into African politics and government.

The first thing that came to my mind were interesting Facebook postings comparing the American politics and government to those of African countries after a great State of Union Speech delivered by President Obama. Hence, my initial thoughts were that importing American ideas into African politics and government is a waste of time, because, logically it seems as a simple case of an orange and an apple comparison or a false analogy. However, after reflecting on the concept for few minutes, I realized that importing American/western ideas into African government and politics is not a new phenomenon. It has been so since the existence of modern African governments. Therefore, it should be viewed as updating a concept. In that case, if done properly in the African context, it would be a good thing. However, importing ideas is not the real problem. Instead, the real problem is leadership crisis around Africa.

A quick glance at the history of modern Africa illustrates that current Africa political and government system is a type of governance forced upon African people since the 19th century until now. So importing American type of government and principles is a mere updating of the system as former colonial masters’ expected. Modern African countries were built based on foreign concepts, and not on indigenous principles of governance. For instance, my native Liberia, one of Africa’s first Republics moot, is a “duplication” of the U.S.A. form of government with minor differences. Even, the notion of Independence and Human Rights prescribed in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that advocates for self-determination, which influenced African leaders to demand their freedom and sovereignty takes its roots in Western philosophies. African Revolutionary leaders like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and others were trained in the Western world with a western ideas and principles. It is sad to admit that modern African’s government and political system is an imported one. Further, most of the existing institutions and societal norms (e.g. religion norms) are imported as well.

As a result, African countries are constantly playing the “catching up” game with the West….It is like buying a software that needs a constant upgrade. So whenever there is a new version, there is a need to update the old one. If not, it will become sluggish or useless in comparison to the new one. Hence, African leaders are left to choose whether they should continue updating their institutions for their people or for the west. Alternatively, they can choose to abandon the old system all together, which may not be feasible in this global world. However, with a good and strong leadership, it is possible to borrow new ideas from the West and adapt them to African realities for the betterment of African people.

The prerequisite for transforming or adapting good ideas from the West for Africa local use is good leadership. In other words, this cannot be done in a vacuum of a good and strong leadership. Leaders who do not have the people and country at heart have no place in the new Africa. Such leaders only import ideas that benefit them and their cronies instead of the masses. Unfortunately, this has been the hallmark of many leaders around the continent.

The good news is that some African leaders, such as John Magufuli of Tanzania and Ian Khama of Botswana are on aggressive transformation moves that are incorporating some of the best practices from the West with local values and practices to advance their people and countries. Leaders such as Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba, Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta just to name a few that have done great job in the past. Unfortunately, Africa problem remains the lack of continuation of good leadership to continue on the good work of the few enlightened leaders.

Arguably, the great United States was once a new nation whom leaders imported ideas from ancient civilizations like Egypt, Rome and Greece to create a new and powerful system that is not perfect but constantly updating as well. Imagine African leaders importing great ideas from around the world to create the next superpower. This is possible with excellent leadership.

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