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AU Hosts Ambassadors at 20th Anniversary Ball in D.C.

Dec 23, 2022 02:00PM ● By Karen Warrington

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the African Union (AU) hosted an elegant Ambassador’s Ball themed “Our Africa, Our Future,” just days prior to the start of President Biden’s United States - Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC. The AU is the successor to the Organization of African Union (OAU). It is guided by its vision of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”

Fifty-five ambassadors representing African nations were invited to the event hosted by Ambassador Hilda Suka-Mafudze, the Permanent Representative of the African Union to the U.S. The event included presentation of AU awards in recognition of global leadership and philanthropy. The recipients were U.S. Representative and House Majority Leader James E. Clyburn; Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH CoalitionDr. Mae Jemison, a former NASA astronaut and engineer; and, Dikembe Mutombo, a Congolese-American NBA star and philanthropist.

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Congressman James Clyburn

The award to U.S. Rep. Clyburn was named for U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. Rep. Clyburn said he was honored to receive an award named for a “stalwart human rights advocate.” He added, “We all have a part to play in building a future that ensures the stability of the African people and the Diaspora and promotes peace, security and basic freedoms for all people.” The AU Nelson Mandela Award to civil rights icon Jesse Jackson was accepted by his son Congressman-elect Jonathan Jackson and his daughter Ashley Jackson. The AU Global Citizen Award to Dikembe Mutumbo was accepted by his brother Ilo Mutombo.

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Ilo Mutombo

Ambassador Suka-Mafudze said, “It is important that the AU honors and recognizes the contributions made by Africans and global leaders in the advancement of peace, human rights and development initiatives on the African continent.”

The event guest speaker was Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. In her keynote speech, she celebrated the UN-AU partnership; but she also stressed that this is a time of uncertainty. “On the eve of the upcoming US-Africa Leaders’ Summit here in DC, Africa must make clear that the continent cannot continue to be a recipient of collateral damage resulting from climate crisis, the socio-economic impacts of Covid and the consequence of the war in Ukraine.”

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed

At the end of the evening while those in attendance were enjoying the performance of the Kin Malebo Jazz Band an African American guest was heard remarking, “I am so impressed to see such a gathering of AU diplomats and global leaders representing the breadth of Africa and beyond assembled in this space not only to celebrate the African continent but to also come together to ensure its future.”

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  Karen Warrington has had a decades long career as a broadcast journalist, communications professional, performing artist, and documentary filmmaker. She has traveled extensively throughout Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. She is committed to being a voice for the African Diaspora.

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