October has indeed been an eventfull one, as can be expected with it being Black History Month in the UK. However events of the month also took me to Ghana where I had the honour of attending and supporting BTWSC/African Histories Revisited seminar held on the 14th October 2016, at the Ghana Institute Of Journalism (GIJ) in Accra.
How Can IDPAD (International Decade For People Of African Descent) 2015-24 Work For Us? seminar was organised by UK-based voluntary organisations BTWSC and African Histories Revisited, and facilitated by history consultant and former University of Westminster lecturer Kwaku. It was officially opened by GIJ rector Dr Wilberforce Dzisah, and elder statesman Dr KB Asante provided the introduction.
The event, which attracted a full house of nearly 200 attendees, mainly journalism and communications students, of which many had heardly of IDPAD before attending the seminar, helped raise awareness of the United Nations (UN) resolution that declared 2015 to 2014 as the International Decade Of People Of African Descent (IDPAD).
IDPAD came out of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa in 2001. In addition to dealing with racism, and racial and structural discrimination, IDPAD is also a human rights issue, and is about fully implementing the UN’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Declaration calls on all UN member states, both in Africa and its diaspora, to engage in a programme of activities under the over-arching theme of Recognition, Justice and Development. Civil society organisations and other relevant bodies and individuals are also called upon to assist with delivering the programmes, raising awareness, and holding member states to account in discharging their obligations as UN members.
The programme of activities is quite far-reaching. It includes removal of all obstacles that prevent the equal enjoyment of all human rights, be they economic, social, cultural, civil and political; promotion of greater knowledge and recognition of and respect for the culture and history of people of African heritage and their contribution to world civilisation; equal participation in all aspects of society; equality before the law; equal access to education, housing, and employment, including adoption of special measures, such as affirmative or positive action, where appropriate to remedy long-standing disparities.
“This Decade is an opportunity for focused and concerted action. My hope is that a decade from now, the human rights situation of people of African descent worldwide will be vastly improved,” says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Adds Kwaku: “IDPAD has the potential to greatly redress many of the disadvantages and discrimination faced by Africans on the continent and in the diaspora, and governments and national organisations at the international level, particularly in areas of economy and trade. However it’s up to Governments and civil society to be pro-active in using the opportunity offered by IDPAD.
“For a start, the Government needs to publish what it is doing or planning to do within a programme of activities, This can then be supported by civil society organisations and interested individuals, and amplified by the media, which is one of the reasons why the seminar was delivered at GIJ. The media has to understand this initiative and how we can use it to reduce or dismantle a wide range of obstacles we face at home and abroad.”
The UN and related organisations such as UNESCO have a number of IDPAD-related events and resources, some of which can be accessed via www.bit.ly/IDPADEvents.
It was also an honour for me to be invited back by GIJ students to give a presentation on Diversity Matters, a platform which was started within an educational space (UAL), and has gained momentum through events and workshops which are mostly students/recent graduate lead. More info on “The Returned” presentation coming next or CLICK HERE for pictures on Diversity Matters Facebook page.
Feedback from the IDPAD Accra seminar and competition entries on IDPAD by GIJ students will feed into BTWSC/African Histories Revisited’s Making The UN International Decade For People Of African Descent (IDPAD) Work For Us conference, which takes place 12th November 2016 in London. CLICK HERE to book!