By Gabriel Ewepu

FOLLOWING celebration of first ever United Nation’s International Day for People of African Descent on August 31, 2021, the President and Founder of the Washington DC-based Institute of Caribbean Studies, Dr Claire Nelson, Tuesday, explained why Nigeria needs to embrace ‘Pan-Africanist Futures for Africa’ in order to achieve Africa Union, AU, Vision 2063.

 According to Nelson it will be key to Africa’s development and inclusive prosperous future, and the International Day for People of African Descent which will henceforth be celebrated every August 31, has stirred up global conversations on the future of Africans worldwide.

As Convener of Garveynomics 2021, an Online Forum to address economic equity agenda, she (Nelson) being first Jamaican woman to earn a Doctorate degree in an engineering discipline, has thrown light on the importance of Nigeria in the global African community.

Speaking further, the renowned futurist said Nigeria must deliberately begin to train her professionals in reading the signs of the emerging future, anticipating problems and designing appropriate solutions to mitigate or resolve before they come. 

She called on educational institutions and especially Nigerian engineers to take up the responsibility of creating the AU 2063 visionary Pan-African economic infrastructure.

The International Day for People of African Descent will be celebrated for the first time on August 31, 2021 . Through this observance, the United Nations aims to promote the extraordinary contributions of the African Diaspora around the world and to eliminate all forms of discrimination against people of African descent.

Dr. Nelson is the founder of ‘The Futures Forum’ in Washington DC and was honored as a White House Champion of Change. She is also listed among Top 50 Female Futurists by Forbes. The futurist also has recently published book titled ‘Smart Futures for a Flourishing World.’

She said: “This Day is 20 years in the making. It has been 20 years since the World Conference on Racism in Durban which was a milestone event for us who carry the blood and memory of our formerly enslaved ancestors.

“This day, is a result of several years of struggle for us people of African descent all across the globe to rewrite history to reflect the truth and to seek a united and developed Africa.

“In this struggle, Africans in Diaspora and Africans in Africa must work together. African countries, particularly Nigeria (because of its large population) must push the idea of Pan-Africanism to its younger generations.

“It is important for Nigeria’s great universities like the University of Ibadan, University of Lagos, and others to take a lead in this regard. Whereas, we the ‘lost tribe of Africans in the Diaspora’ see ourselves as African, most people on the continent see themselves first as Yoruba, Ibo, Kikuyu, Luo, Zulu and so on. 

“On the mythic level of consciousness, I think there are very few Africans in Africa.   The charge is for the average Nigerian to see past tribalism and ethnic differences, for Nigerian leaders to help to decolonize the future.  If Nigeria can set off on that journey, other African countries will follow suit.”

However, she expressed optimism that, “We all have our eyes on the UN SDGs. If Nigeria can take a lead in West Africa, like Kenya and Rwanda have done in East Africa, the integration of the African economy will accelerate. 

Speaking on the reconciliation based on the conflicts in some African countries she said, “Those of us whose forefathers were sold into slavery, must work to create reconciliation and redemption between us. That is what Bob Marley sings about.    That is what this day is about. It is a sacred day. A day for contemplation and dialogue.”

To participate in the event, follow the Institute of Caribbean Studies, Washington DC on Facebook.

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