ADDI inspired Black solidarity at Afro-United Fest’s inaugural event

The Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) Chapter of the African Diaspora Development Institute (ADDI) held an inaugural two-day event that included a Men’s and Women’s Empowerment Seminar, an Afro Royalty Gala & Cultural Dance, and an Afro-United Concert featuring both local and foreign Afrobeats performers on the campus of Howard University.

ADDI was founded in the Washington DC Metro region; despite being registered in Tennessee. Her Excellency (H.E) Ambassador Arikana Chihombori Quao had the concept for the ADDI after she was relieved of her position as the African Union’s Ambassador to the US in November 2019.

To signify its historic milestone, the festival was held at the Armour J. Blackburn Center of Howard University in Washington, DC – one of the country’s oldest historically Black colleges and institutions, from September 28 to 29, 2023.

In a statement to in September, Ambassador Chihombori Quao stated that she saw it as her calling to continue to advocate for the “wokeness” of all black people around the globe. She considers ADDI as a “bridge between the African Diaspora and Africa. This vision was born out of the realization that the exodus of Africa’s children from slave trade to more recent immigrants has resulted in Afro Descents losing the much-needed connection to their heritage”.

A soft launching of all other ADDI Chapters also took place during the two-day event culminating into the Arikana Excellence Awards Ceremony. The awards part of the event acknowledged individuals who have shown exceptional commitment and lasting difference in the organization. It also highlighted some individuals’ personal achievements that served as an inspiration to others.

The Men’s Empowerment Seminar was held under the theme “Empowering the Global African Community: Bridging Continents for Economic Prosperity”, it was moderated by Kelvin Williams, CEO of NuHollywood and owner of Columbia School of Broadcasting.

Speakers at the event included: Alexander Cummings, Liberian Presidential Candidate and Former Coca-Cola Africa Senior Executive; Kemuel Van Der Puije, COO, Voice of Africa; Kadmiel Van Der Puije, CEO, Voice of Africa and Experience Africa; Andjelo Cherty Mwembya, US-Africa Senior Business Strategist; Curtis Smith, Founder, and CEO of Africa Tourism Union; and Jerald Boyd, Co-founder of Iceberg Renewals.

The Women’s Empowerment Seminar was themed “Recognising our resilience and Building Bridges to Empower Ourselves and Build the Africa we Envisage” and covered two key topics, Intercontinental Business and Political Leadership in the Diaspora. This seminar was moderated by Ms. Fatmata Barrie Esq.

H.E Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao (middle in blue dress) with the event’s female panelists / © ADDI

Event speakers here included Dr. Remi Duyile and Dr. Stella Jeffries who spoke on, Intercontinental Business; and Representative Wala Blegay and Representative Naquetta Ricks who spoke on, Political Leadership in the Diaspora; H.E Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao; climaxed this session by giving an empowering statement covering both topics.

Special guests at the event included H.E SEM Sékou BERTHE Ambassador of the Republic of Mali; H.E Lynn Young, Ambassador of the Republic of Belize; and Maria del Pilar Barona from Columbia, Latin America. Guest speakers included Michael Thompson from OBT Social (a key sponsor) and Dr. Martin Kwende.

There were performances by KanKouran West African Dance Company, Pupa Curly, J-Wils, Izzy Zick and a fashion show by Itel Fashion Modeling., a DMV-based communication consultancy firm, and OBT Social as well as Voice of Africa were among the event media partners.

Awardees list

1H.E Ambassador Arikana Chihombori QuaoLifetime Achievement Award
2Prof. P.L.O LumumbaPresidential Award
3VP Damien CookArikana Excellence Award
4VP Ray HugginsArikana Excellence Award
5VP Philip N Catlyn SpringerArikana Excellence Award
6Mrs. Sylvia Litana EzozoArikana Excellence Award
7Mr. Agrippa EzozoArikana Excellence Award
8Dr. Olayinka Creighton-RandallArikana Excellence Award
9Mr. Benson KasueArikana Excellence Award
10Dr. Stella JeffriesArikana Excellence Award
11Dr. E. Faye WilliamsArikana Excellence Award
12Prince Kalada William JumboArikana Excellence Award
13Dr. Gloria B. HerndonArikana Excellence Award
14Mr. David HorneArikana Excellence Award
15Mr. Djimon HounsouArikana Excellence Award
16Mr. Basil AjuoArikana Excellence Award
17Mr. Curlyn S ArnoldArikana Excellence Award
18Rep Naquetta RicksArikana Excellence Award
19Dr. Norma Lozano-JacksonArikana Excellence Award
20Ms. Liliosa ChambweraArikana Excellence Award
21Dr. Ambrosia MondoaArikana Excellence Award
22Mother Vivian StuartArikana Excellence Award
23Ms. Marie TaquiArikana Excellence Award
24Dr. Lee WhitakerArikana Excellence Award
25Mr. Thomas HoktcheuArikana Excellence Award
26Mr. Kliphord DarkwaArikana Excellence Award
27Aturah Bahtiyah AKA Nana Adjoa Amissah IIArikana Excellence Award
28Lazare Ki ZerboArikana Excellence Award
29Ms. Johanna Leblanc JDArikana Excellence Award
30Elder Nabeela UqdahArikana Excellence Award (Posthumous)
31Ms. Iman Uqdah HameenArikana Excellence Award
32Mr. Davies ChirwaArikana Excellence Award
33Mr. Siphiwe BalekaArikana Excellence Award
34Prof Linley. Chiwona-KarltunArikana Excellence Award
35Mwalimu KbailiaArikana Excellence Award
36Mr. Haki AmmiArikana Excellence Award
37Bro. Baya Kes-Ba-Me-Ra BradfordArikana Excellence Award
38Mr. Cliff KuumbaArikana Excellence Award
39Sydney FrancisArikana Excellence Award
40Prof. Anita DiopArikana Excellence Award
41Dr. Franklin AbrahamArikana Excellence Award
42Mr. Melvin BrownArikana Excellence Award
43Dr. Nangula HopwoodArikana Excellence Award
44Mr. Cletus PrinceArikana Excellence Award

Dr. Edmund Folefac received Prof. Lumumba’s award on his behalf, as requested by Prof. Lumumba.

H.E Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao (right) presenting Dr. Stella with her award/ © ADDI
H.E Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao (middle) presenting Dr. Carl Lee Whitaker (left) with his award / ADDI
H.E Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao (right) presenting Mother Vivian Stuart with her award / © ADDI

In a post-event interview with Ambassador Chihombori-Quao expressed her amazement at how huge the event turned out to be, “especially as ADDI is still a very young organization. This is the first of many chapter launches and Afro Festivals as ADDI continues to tell the world that enough is enough, we are ready to take our rightful place on the global stage”.


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