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Mayor Vincent C. Gray Swears in Commission on African Affairs

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mayor Vincent C. Gray Swears in Commission on African Affairs

The event was kicked off with an energetic welcome and introduction by the Office on African Affairs (OAA) Director Ngozi Nmezi who thanked the Mayor for his ardent and evident commitment to the District’s African communities.

 On Wednesday, April 11, over 100 community members representing the broad diversity of the District’s African community filled the Mayor’s Briefing room (G-9) at the John A. Wilson Building on Pennsylvania Avenue to usher in 10 new appointees to the Commission on African Affairs to be sworn in by Mayor Gray. The event was kicked off with an energetic welcome and introduction by the Office on African Affairs (OAA) Director Ngozi Nmezi who thanked the Mayor for his ardent and evident commitment to the District’s African communities, and his tireless effort to build One City, in which all residents – irrespective of differences - are guaranteed quality of life. 

In his opening remarks, Mayor Gray emphasized the vibrant contribution of the African community to the District’s social and economic vitality, and highlighted two sets of statistics that point to the steady growth and increasing relevance of the District’s newest constituent base: “approximately 10% percent of the nation’s foreign-born African population lives right here in the DC metropolitan area, making the District second to the New York area” and  “African immigrants are the fastest growing immigrant group in the nation, exhibiting a swift 30 percent population growth.” Following introductory remarks by the Chair of the Commission on African Affairs, Attorney Loide Jorge, the Mayor led the swearing-in of the newly-appointed Commissioners who collectively pledged to fulfill the duties of the Office.

OAA Director Nmezi then presented OAA’s accomplishments in FY11 and FY12. Some highlights were a) highly successful business seminar: “From DC to Africa: Growing Local, Going Global," held on April 6 which launched OAA’s Business Development, Engagement and Support Series, and was attended by over 250 District businesses and entrepreneurs seeking resources and opportunities for growing their businesses locally as well as exporting and investing in Africa to create jobs in the District of Columbia b) the launching of OAA’s African Dialogue Series with a Black History Month event held in February titled “Celebration of African Contributions to America: Forging a Bond among the People of the Diaspora for the Betterment of All” which brought 150 people together in an event that combined a historical perspective on African migration, a look at civic participation and public engagement in the District & an exploration of new opportunities through US-Africa trade for diaspora engagement, job creation and economic development in the District; and finally c) OAA’s robust and growing internship and volunteer programs which have brought dynamic and highly-skilled talent and capacity to the OAA team. 

The Director also unveiled the Office’s strategic direction for FY12 which mirrors Mayor Gray’s six key priorities, and gave an overview of the six programmatic areas that OAA will be focusing on to respond to the most pressing needs in the African community identified during the first months of Mayor Gray’s administration. Finally, the Office’s Capital City Fellow, Mamadou Samba, presented a thorough and comprehensive report entitled the “State of Africans in the District of Columbia” which profiled key characteristics of the African immigrant communities in DC, and underscored the challenges as well as potential moving forward. Above all, the report highlighted the need for more targeted research and data collection that would give District government, decision makers and policy makers an accurate and grounded understanding of this new and growing immigrant community.

Concluding the event, the Mayor’s Commissioners on African Affairs made individual pledges in front of the community at large stating the specific OAA programs and endeavors they wish to support to ensure the welfare and development of the District’s African communities.

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