Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Senegal Offers Visa Free Status to Members of the African Diaspora

THURSDAY, 03 JUNE 2010 10:02

At the conclusion of an official visit to the Republic of Ghana by invitation of Ghana’s Head of State John Atta Mills, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade announced his intention to introduce legislation allowing members of the global African Diaspora community to visit Senegal without need of a visa. The Senegalese leader was in Accra to participate in an International Colloquium honoring the legacy of Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah. In addition, this historic legislation would include a provision allowing members of the Diaspora to acquire a special passport.

This is the first time any African head of state has offered “Visa Free Status” to members of the African Diaspora.

This historic initiative by President Wade results from discussions with Her Excellency, Ambassador Dr. Erieka Bennett, Founder and Head of Mission of the Diaspora African Forum, based at the W.E.B. DuBois Center in Accra. Recognized by the African Union, the Diaspora African Forum holds diplomatic status granted by Ghana and is the first diplomatic mission in the world dedicated to the African Diaspora.

While in Accra, President Wade visited the Diaspora African Forum, where he met with the Head of Mission, H.E. Dr. Erieka Bennett, and invited her to open the forum’s second mission in Senegal’s capital Dakar.

“The president asked me to lead a Diaspora delegation to Senegal to work out the modalities for the new mission,” Ambassador Bennett stated. "This is an important, transformational moment in the history of Africa and especially for the political and economic evolution of African and African Diaspora affairs,” she concluded.

The distinguished and renowned, ninety-three year old Jamaican diplomat, Ambassador Dudley Thompson, represented the African Diaspora community at the International Colloquium, which also celebrated Kwame Nkrumah’s 100th birthday.

Ambassador Thompson applauded Senegalese President Wade’s leadership on Diaspora affairs, adding that he was delighted to see such a breathtaking development in his life time. “This decision represents a giant step in helping to unite Africa and the Diaspora, and demonstrates in a most meaningful way the visionary leadership of President Wade and importance of the African Diaspora to 21st century Africa."

In a related development, President Wade also announced that in honor of the works and legacy of Kwame Nkrumah, the Republic of Senegal would create a Chair on Pan Africanism at Dakar’s Cheikh Anta Diop University, and further proposed in addition to the establishment of the Diaspora African Forum mission in Dakar, that a permanent Pan African Secretariat also be established in the capital city.

For additional information - and to obtain interviews with H.E. Dr. Erieka Bennett, Founder and Head of Mission of the Diaspora African Forum, news media are invited to contact: by email, or by telephone at Division 12 Media in Washington, DC at: (202) 587-5648.

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