"Africa is under siege," Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao tells us how we got here and how we'll get out


Last Wednesday, we had a beautiful and unexpected guest on our African Ancestry Weekly LIVE. In fact, one of the viewers compared the experience to watching a solar eclipse because of its rarity and awesomeness. Dr. Gina Paige, our CEO and co-founder who hosts the events each week, couldn’t contain her excitement. 

“No one can hold a candle to our guest today,” she said, as she prepared to introduce the illustrious guest. She called for everyone watching to have their “crown emojis” ready as they virtually welcomed the special guest: HE Ambassador Arikana Chihombori Quao, MD.

Across our live platforms, available on YouTube and Facebook Live, we had 1,351 viewers. (Were you one of them? Tell us what you thought in the comments below!)

Who Is Ambassador Arikana Chihombori Quao, MD?

HE, Ambassador Arikana Chihombori Quao, MD on African Ancestry LIVE

Ambassador Arikana is the founder, president and Chief Executive Officer of the African Diaspora Development Institute (ADDI). Her excellency is also a medical doctor, who has practiced medicine for over a quarter century. She’s responsible for the creation of several medical clinics worldwide. If that isn’t enough to honor, she’s also a diplomat, public speaker, an educator, an entrepreneur and author.

Her recently published book, Africa 101: The Wakeup Call, is an Amazon best seller. 

“I know y’all don’t have this book. So I’m expecting to see a boost in book sales,” Gina said, celebrating the new works.

Gina raves about Ambassador Arikana’s work. 

“I’ve witnessed it. She worked tirelessly towards fulfilling her mandate to undertake, develop and maintain relationships between the African Union and the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government, the African Diplomatic Corps, [and more,]” Gina said.

“She had to manage all of those relationships. And she does it with such grace,” Gina continued.

Talk about a role model! 

“As an African Union Ambassador to the United States, she had two main goals to promote Africa in the U.S. and then to galvanize the African Diaspora, to participate in the development of Africa. She was everywhere, traveled everywhere: speaking, teaching, educating, leading…. Her efforts at mobilizing the Diaspora as people of African descent and not as citizens of any single African country is unprecedented.”

Ambassador Arikana won the Achievement Award in 1996 from the late President Nelson Mandela in South Africa; the African Woman of Excellence award in July of 2015; and the 2018 Ambassador of the Year award from Howard University. She’s been recognized by Congress; mayors, governors, and county executives across the Diaspora; and in 2019, was named Person of the Year by Guardian Newspaper. 

“Nobody else did it before her and exemplifies her ability to unify people around a common goal.”

Clearly, Ambassador’s work is wide and proves why she’s gotten the accolades and praise she has. 

“I never knew her as a doctor, but I can only imagine how successful her practices have been just from her gracious spirit as a leader,” Gina said. 

In addition to her work within her communities, she is a proud wife and mother of five children (and similarly five grandchildren). 

She’s a true powerhouse.

Dr. Gina Paige and Ambassador Arikana Chihombori Quao together on African Ancestry LIVE

Ambassador Arikana introduces us to the Berlin Conference

“In February of 1885, in the cold Berlin months in Germany, the colonizers met to discuss how they could see to it that Africa and her children are forever defeated and dominated. They had been in Africa where they found some amazing kingdoms with their own well-established religious and educational systems. They sought out to destroy us. So for four months, they sat around the great big old table with a gigantic map of Africa across from them. They took out their carving knives and began to petition Africa into the tiny little economies that we are today. The more powerful a kingdom was, the more kingdoms that came out of it. The more organized a kingdom was, the more countries that came out of it. Not only did many countries out of that same kingdom for the purposes of divide and conquer. They also assigned those countries.

So the more countries that came out the feat and the same countries were also assigned to different colonizers who spoke different languages. This was done as a way of making sure that the rule of divide and conquer was as successful as it could be. This was all done as a way of making sure that the new countries, the new nations, could never survive on their own, but in the event that they should, their nations that are easy to destabilize. So it is that they got together. 

By the 26th of February, 19, 1885, they completed their dirty work. The Africa that we have today - with the exception of a few changes - was born; this Africa that was designed to be forever defeated and dominated over 130 years later.  We, the Black people have been unable to undo the damage that was created by the Berlin conference.

What does the Berlin Conference mean for today’s world?

Ambassador Arikana shares how the Berlin conference “continues to be alive and well today.” 

“They talk about liberalization. Let's all come together where one big market let's try it together. But guess where all the minerals are? The natural resources in Africa are in the top 80% of the world. They know there's a lot to get out of Africa. So poor little Togo was told you have suffered as a nation. You have the same sovereignty as China. Poor Little Berlin, Poor Little Djibouti  is what you need. You have the same sovereignty on the world stage as the United States. As European Union, And how is Togo, how is Berlin, how is Gabon, with 1.5 million people, Lesotho with 1.5 million people - how did they go to the world markets and trade with China with 1.4 billion people?”

She continued:

“It was all by design to see to it that we are forever defeated and dominated. I often equate it to like taking my poor husband and putting him in the same boxing ring with Muhammad Ali. And so when my husband collapses, before he even leaves home, the world says, ‘oh, what's wrong with you, Dr. Cole?’

You are fighting Muhammad Ali and they don't understand why Togo is not thriving because French military are in Togo. French treasury is in the Togolese Central Bank. French government, French companies...rather they're managing and employing over 80% of the Togolese people. They control the economy of Togo. How does Togo breathe? The same is happening in every country in Africa. And we are being made to say, ‘Oh, leadership. I'm not saying we don't have leadership issues. Yes we do. But who doesn't. But what are you leading? 

I am reminded of a cartoon that was sent to me last week:

There was Africa up in the tree running away from a lion that was depicted as the United States. And a crocodile that was pictured as Europe. As Africa is running down the tree to run away from the lion and the crocodile. They’re running down the tree, but guess who was already in the tree? China. It was a snake ready to attack the African. Where does the African go? That cartoon depicted the situation in Africa. I’m saying to you my brothers and sisters, Africa is under siege, they have their knees on our necks. Africa cannot breathe. And all that goes back to the Berlin Conference.

Thanks to the organizers of the Berlin Conference, Africa is under siege. Until we understand what the Berlin conference means then and now, we need to strategize to undo the damage, we will not yield the desired results.

Ambassador encourages us to refer to what happened after the Holocaust

“I like to use an example of the Jews after the Holocaust 1945. Thirteen Jewish men met in the library in Tel Aviv after the Holocaust. They had nothing. They were trying to regroup and figure out where they belong and a way to forward the plans. Those thirteen Jewish men came up back in 1945 with decisions that they nurtured and developed to where today we have the Jewish nation that is as powerful as it is today. We only have 15 million people in the Jewish Diaspora in a little bitty country called Israel. 

Compared to us, Africans, we have over almost 400 million people in African Diaspora plus the largest landmass on earth: over 30,000 sq. miles of land. Look where we are? The only two things that they understood mattered the most. And they concentrated on that. It was the unity of people. They come together, they organized. They said: ‘What are you? What do you do? And how do we get in touch with you? 

Secondly, now that we know who you are, here are the issues for us to accomplish this. We need money. Let's pull again, unit of papers -- financial unit of papers. That's the only two things they did. They pulled their monies together. They come together. 

If we can unite and understand why we are uniting, if we can understand that I don't have to love you. I don't even have to like you. But as I said, our level as Black people, we have the responsibility to unite and fight for our sheer survival in greater good. But more importantly, we have a responsibility to fix the situation with Black people, for our children and generations to come. Let's unite and let's pull our financial resources together! The rest is easy.”

Ambassador Arikana shares her organization, ADDI, with us 

ADDI - The Bridge Between Africa and the African Diaspora

Ambassador Arikana created her apolitical organization, the African Diaspora Development Institute (ADDI), as an entity that was designed to be the one-stop shop for everything African.  They’re about creating a strong private sector through collaborations in Africa.

As long as we have existed, there isn't one place that you could go to if you wanted to know something about Africa. If you want to go to Nigeria, you go to go to the Nigerian embassy. If you want to know something about Kenya, you got to go to the Kenyan embassy. It's ridiculous and insanity of the highest order. So we're saying, at ADDI, that we need to have one place. If you want to go home or to do business right now, we are concentrating on going back home, go ahead and do business. 

Our mission is to mobilize the African Diaspora and to participate in the development of Africa. Our mission is to educate the African Diaspora so they really understand what is really going on in Africa, because the Diaspora is not doing the right thing, not because they don't want to, but because they are misinformed. 

This goes back to the miseducation of the African, the miseducation of Black people, wherever we are. And ADDI is saying, let's have that unity of papers. The building of the Africa we want is our responsibility and ours alone. 

The change that we desire, the respect that we desire, we have the responsibility to demand it because we cannot continue to be the most disrespected race on earth. When it's all said and done, we give back to humanity, as we know it. In fact, we should be put on the tallest pedestal, but instead we are in the slums again, intentionally done in order to continue to dominate us; intentionally done in order to take over our inheritance in Africa, knowledge of our history, knowledge of the world and how it runs. 

They keep us from throwing a shiny object and wanting us to run after the shiny object, when the real issues are in the opposite direction. ADDI is about educating the African Diaspora, creating that unit of papers, pulling together all of our financial resources for the purposes of putting an end to the abuse and exploitation of Black people - not only in Africa, but around the globe.”

We’re all Africans, according to Ambassador Arikana.

“The Union defines the African Diaspora as all people of African descent, regardless of where you were born or people of African descent living outside Africa. If you're African-American, ‘Yes, ma'am. Yes, sir. You are a part of the African Diaspora. If you're African-Carribean, an African-Latino, Afro-European, yes, you are of the African Diaspora. 

African Heads of States are saying, ‘come home to Africa.’ They're taking a page out of the Jewish playbook: ‘Once a Jew, always a Jew said and you're welcome home to Israel.’ Now we’re saying the same. ‘If you’re a Black person, you’re always an African, and you're welcome to go home and no one can stop you.’ That should be your attitude because you are an African, plain and simple. I know we need to go home. End of story.

What does Ambassador Arikana think of Sierra Leone’s recent citizenship decision?

Gina asks this question highlighting Sierra Leone’s recent decision to offer citizenship to people of African descent whose lineages trace back to the country. They started this in November 2020 - in partnership with African Ancestry - to bring people home. In January 2021, the first group of folks who received their citizenship went to Africa. In April, a second group of 59 people returned. 

AfricanAncestry.com's Gina Paige and Sierra Leone Minister of Tourism Madam Memunatu Pratt Sign Historic Citizenship Agreement in Freetown, Sierra Leone on April 29, 2021

“This is amazing. I remember we were talking one time, we went on a program together and he said, my sister, if you're Black and you show up in Sierra Leone, you're African. End of story. That is the spirit that is needed. You don't need to go through hoops.”

In reference to Gina, who is a fairer skinned Black woman she said:

“I look at you, Gina, now I see an African, what else can I say? Let's be serious about this as a continental born-African, I'm ashamed that I will lead us to this day. We are not, we have got to do something about what is going on with the children of Africa around the globe. It is shameful. It is way past due and our leaders must be ashamed. Something needs to be done. They all must follow suit as to what Sierra Leone is doing. I am so proud of the president of Sierra Leone.

Now the rest of Africa: let's follow suit. The children of Africa must go home. End of story. 

That should never be any other conversation. I mean, it's disgusting. And it's sad that we even have to have this, you know, we are busy complaining about what the Europeans are doing, and yet we're not talking about what we are doing to each other that we can fix, and we don't need anybody to get in the way of that. So yes, I think Sierra Leone, what they have started has got to be duplicated throughout the continent.

“I often say a million people with a thousand dollars a year is a billion dollars.”

A bunch of coins on solid platform

People with a thousand dollars a year, is a billion dollars that equates to about $83 a month. We do that for one year, we are sitting at $1 billion. Not take $5 million out of the $400 million of us. Now let's do it for five years and stop. 

That is all the money we need between monetization and investment investing. Those funds. We can change our circumstances. 

Can we have 5 million people in the United States? We're sitting at 50 to 55 million Black people in the United States and the 45 million in the Caribbean over 200 in South America. And then of course, 1.3 in Africa, just give us 5 million. If everyone can commit to $83 a month for five years, it doesn't have to be forever. As long as we can average about 5 million contributed, we are done. We can take care of our circumstances. We can open our own Africa house centers throughout the world.

Just like the Jews. Have you sent us? If a Jew is anything, they go to the synagogue and they get the help they need. We need Africa centers all over the world. If you're Black and you need help, if you're Black and you want to go home to Africa, if you're Black and you want to invest in Africa, go to the Africa house and we will guide you and we will help you. We will show you the way home. We will have our own banks, where if you need money, if you need low interest loans, go to the Diaspora and banks with that money. 

$83 a year from 5 million people for five years, we can do this. 

The question then becomes, ‘are you prepared to do that?’ When we give that $83 a month for five years, it's not about you. It's about the legacy. 

If you're coming into it and say, ‘what's in it for me right now?’, you're in for the wrong reasons. It's about the legacy. It's about saying we are the generation that's going to put an end to the disrespect of Black people, because I bought it, I can say we can no longer continue to be the most disrespected people on Earth. 

What have we done to the world to deserve this? So the $83, the question then becomes, ‘are you dedicated as a Black person? Are you sick and tired enough that you're going to say: to my sisters, look in your closet. You can hunt bags with tags on them. Shoes. Dresses. Can you not afford $83 a month? So your children can leave a better world for generations to come. Can you not afford $83 a month for our legacy?

Ambassador Arikana calls for us to take that money and invest it into ADDI. There’s a fund that will be up and running by August. 

“We want as many people to be shareholders of that fund. Let's pull our monies together. We don't need anybody. We have our own financial resources. All we got to do is read ourselves of the legacy of slavery and colonization. The rule of divide and conquer must die. The Berlin Conference must die. We need to wake up from our slumber of over 400 years. How long are we going to continue to be stupid? My brothers and sisters, how long? Sometimes I sit back and I think, well, yes, I would tell my white friends. I wish I couldn't be a fly on the wall when they're talking about the dumb things we do as Black people, because we do and we know it. And yet we can't change. 

Do you love your children? Stop right now. Look at your children. Are you okay with leaving them this world, so they can be the next George Floyd? Are you okay with that? I would hope the answer is no. How are you okay with 20 years from now, when your grandchild says ‘grandmother, grandfather there were problems with our race, they killed George Floyd and many others. What did you do?’ 

What is your response going to be? It's that simple? Do you love your children? If you do, do something about it. When that fund is up, you better be a shareholder. Stay tuned and join ADDI.  Let's be part of the movement. Let's decide our destiny and let's take our place on the world stage. We are the mothers and fathers of humanity. We belong on the tallest pedestal. 

The real-world Wakanda is being created. 

A Real-Life Wakanda - Wakanda One, City of Return, from ADDI.org

Wakanda One, City of Return, is a big pillar of ADDI. 

“People are not aware that no amount of money put into Africa can give us the desired Africa that we want. Look at healthcare today. Africa needs about 1.3 million doctors. If all the continental African doctors in the Diaspora, all the African-American doctors in the Diaspora, were to go home to Africa today, we're only going to meet about 50% of the need, what Africa needs because of the brain drain out of Africa. 

The brain drain that started with, the children of Africa coming out of Africa over 400 years ago, as slaves followed by those who left in search of greener pastures, that brain drain has left Africa. We've got the capacity that Africa needs for us to build the Africa that we want the same. There are more Ghanaian doctors in New York City than in the entire country of Ghana. The Ghanian president thought by building more hospitals and renovating old ones, that's how he would improve healthcare. Well, guess what he found out? Half of the wards were sitting empty. Not because there were no patients, but because there were no doctors.

African Doctor

There are more Nigerian doctors in Los Angeles than in the entire country of Nigeria. And yet we, the Diaspora doctors, we sit back and say, ‘I went home so my mother could have access to a good doctor.’”

“Wake up and smell the coffee!”

The same is true in education. The educators are outside Africa. The engineers are outside Africa. What Africa needs is capacity-building. Wakanda One, City of Return is going to be pillared on an educational center of excellence and a healthcare center of excellence to do nothing but train the capacity that Africa needs.

So we’ll no longer have to depend on the Chinese coming in with their expertise, the Europeans, the Middle Easterners, the Indians. The reason the Heads of States are going to these outsiders is because the capacity that we need is not in Africa today. As we speak, there isn't a single African country that has the capacity to build an airport. There isn't a single African country that has the capacity to build a railway line. 

However, we have an abundance of capacity to do that. It all goes back, again, to that unit of papers, Diaspora. One president asked me: ‘What problems do you, the Diaspora, have?’

That problem, Ambassador describes, is pulling finances together to build the next airport, etc. There’s a gold mine in pulling your finances together, so you can invest in Africa. You can even go back home to the United States, go back to Europe, play golf like they do while your money is working for you in Africa.

I have in coming together, pulling your finances together so you can build the next airport, pulling your finances together. So you can see by the goldmine pulling your finances together so you can invest in Africa, go back home to the United States, go back home to Europe, play golf like they do while your money is working for you in Africa.

Are Africans and Black people different?

Here’s what Ambassador Arikana had to say:

“It's simple math, but I can not tell you, no. Huh? How are you different? My brother, how are you different? I've been on many programs. People calling, we are different. And my response is always, ‘I'll take you, my brother. And I'll take you to Ghana with my husband. You walk down this just, they see two Black men, two Africans. Or, my husband, let's take you to the streets of New York City. They see two Black men. What's what they said two black men. Why do you continue to be stupid and tell yourself differently?

Too many people feel that they are different. They don't think they need to go to Africa. Well, then you deserve what you get because what is in Africa belongs to you. You go and get it, or they will get it for you. The majority of the people in those places don't look like me. And you know, you get in the plans within Africa, the majority of the people in Africa, flights don't look like you. And I do you think these people are going to Africa because they love the Africans. Of course not, because they're going there because there's something amazing going on in your Africa. They're going to take your inheritance. We’re being told, stay away from Africa. It is a diseased and dying continent. Hello?”


What’s upcoming for Ambassador Arikana and the ADDI?

The organization is encouraging the Black people to come home and complete the journey, in a full circle way, coming into the very ports where their ancestors were sold from. Many are coming through the Cape Coast in Ghana. 

“The children of Africa can stand at the Dungeons and you look across the Atlantic and tell the slavers once and for all, ‘while you may have won for 400 years, ultimately we are the victors for, we would have come back home to Ghana, to the Cape Coast, with the last set foot on African soil.” 

They’re looking to partner with multiple countries to aid in this global call for Black people to come home and increase the capacity and begin to build the centers of excellence.

The Wakanda One, City of Return, will be a welcome center that helps the economy by having strategic tourism. It's going to have a 500-bed hotel, 200 chalets, and 1,000 homes. There will also be a shopping center and living museum where people can interactively follow the empowering experience of fulfilling that full circle of reclaiming the land and its resources. 

“We will take you through the journey of what our ancestors went through. But more importantly, we will show you how evil these people are and why reparations must be paid.”

How do you do this? How do you do this work? How do you stay encouraged? How do you stay motivated? How do you stay true to your vision? How do you stay pumped up with all of your passion? What, how do you do it? 

“It's a simple matter: What's right is right. What's wrong is wrong. As a citizen of the world, what I don't understand is the injustices in this world that are blatantly hurting Black people. How long I happened to be in a special position, having been given a platform to represent Africa in the Americas. I was given a platform to represent 1.3 billion people on the continent and almost 400 million in the Diaspora. I had a choice to either be quiet, drink tea and coffee, and be wined and dined in Washington, or roll up my sleeves and speak truth to power. If I was going to do my job, according to the mandate, it's exactly what I chose to do.

I wasn't sure what difference I was going to make. But when I was faced with the blatant abuse and I saw it up close and personal, I remember calling my husband. I did not have a house in DC at that time. I remember calling him up and I said, ‘honey, I think I'm going to... I've decided I'm going to hang around a little bit longer.’

I wouldn't tell you the words I used and the reason why I was going to stay behind. I said I was going to stay behind until they ran me out of dodge because you know what it needed to be saved. I could no longer sit in meetings and smile and act like everything is okay when they're pissing in my face. But that's what was happening. We're supposed to smile in the meetings. 

We're talking about peace and security in Africa. We’re in Africa with half of the room is full of people from Europe. Why are you here? We are talking about peace and security in Africa. Do you invite us to discuss peace and security in Europe? Why is this room full of you guys? When we know very well, you are responsible for the instability in Africa. You are responsible for the walls and endless conflicts in Africa. And yet you paid for us Africans to come and sit down and talk about peace and security in Africa. The big animal in the room is you guys sitting behind us and I'm supposed to sit there and smile and waste my time and . Talk about nonsense. Get outta here. We don't need you. But I was faced with that every day. How do you live with that? And I'm supposed to smile. That was my reality. It is wrong. It is wrong. It's just wrong. And I made a decision to call them out every step of the way. 

What happened when Ambassador Arikana spoke up?

“Silence. And usually just ending the meeting. They'll go for a break. 

I would stand up and say, ‘how do you people justify refusing to give us back the remains of our ancestors proof of matter to this day? How do you justify it? It doesn't get any worse. How did you justify it? Europe is full of the remains of Africans. They refuse to give them back. These are crimes committed by your ancestors. 

Don't you smile at me and tell me you had nothing to do with it, fix it, do the right thing. It's that simple.

But Africans, we are not expected to talk like that. We're supposed to be nice. Be diplomatic. How do I tell the men who's raping me to rape me diplomatically? I'm sorry. I'm being crude, but that's about it.

You are spreading Africa apart every day and we're supposed to be nice. ‘Oh, could you please bring my ancestors back? Oh, could you please give us back our artifacts and the trillions of dollars that you took?’

That's our reality. I decided I'll call them out. That was my mandate. I intended to do my job and I did that till they ran me out of dodge.”

Dr. Gina Paige wants people to take away lots from this LIVE.

Firstly, education. She called this LIVE “a whole college course in just 45 minutes.”

“We don’t have any excuses now, that we don’t know. And the things we don’t know we can learn more about it.”

The second thing she wants people to leave with is the call to action from Her Excellency. 

“She’s given us something to do” That something is joining ADDI.

The third is to lift up Her Excellency, Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao. 

Her Excellency, Ambassador Arikana

“You've heard how she puts herself on the line, every single time she talks. She's not afraid to defend and stand up for us. I don't know how she does it. it's a supernatural, great gift that she has from her ancestors. But what we can do is we can support her. And I'm thinking of all these church terms, a hedge of protection, pray I had to protect whatever you believe. However, your spiritual system leads you to provide supportive energy.”

Were you as moved by this LIVE as we were? Tell us what you plan to do with what you’ve learned in the comments!

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