Medical Doctor, Activist, Educator, Diplomat, Entrepreneur
Outside the elite circle of activists in the African diaspora community or the small gang of progressive journalists who appreciate her cause, Her Excellency Dr. Arikana Chinombori Quao may not be a household name. Yet the message of truth she bears re-echoes every day in the plundered cities, the poverty-stricken villages, and in the chambers of power in Africa.
Despite her pedigree and accomplishment in her chosen career as a family medical doctor and successful entrepreneur, Dr. Chihombori-Quao, until recently, would only have been recorded as one illustrious diaspora African in the United States. Had she minded her business or turned down the political position offered her by the African Union (AU), she might not have had the meteoric shot into a global spotlight that has trailed her in the last few months. An accomplished professional and community personality, cautiously distant from the blighting importunities of showbiz, Arikana was just a fine, proud African mama deploying her talents, time and treasure to global health philanthropy and projecting Africa until Providence created a political launch-pad for her aspirations.
Upon acceptance of her appointment as the AU Permanent Representative to the United States of America in December 2016, Dr. Chihombori-Quao mustered her entrepreneurial drive and activism to galvanize peoples of African descent against current neo-colonialism and continuous western interference in Africa. In powerful speeches calling for African unification, she spoke out strongly against colonial pillaging of Africa, and picked out France especially, for atrocious neo-colonial exploitation of its colonies nearly fifty years after these countries became independent.
In one of such speeches, she had told the world: “We are the original people and we have every reason to stand up on the tallest mountains to proclaim who we are…We are beautiful, intelligent, sophisticated, highly adaptable and totally indestructible people – the Africans.” In justification of this indestructibility, she had remarked: “Any other race that would have gone through what we’ve been subjected to would have been extinct and that’s the truth.” Consequently, “…for Africa to take its rightful place on the world stage,” she argued that, “the gutter of the mind that we have lived in for centuries, must be cleaned out.” Speaking at another forum about how Europe underdeveloped Africa she observed: “Everybody is talking about the monkeys and the squirrels in the room, but no one wants to touch the 10,000-pound gorilla in the room, and that is our thinking, of the African people. How much do we understand our Africa? Why is it that the richest continent on Earth is painted as the poorest?”
Taking a swipe at the most virulent of colonial interlopers, she stated: “Today, France is taking out of Francophone Africa over US$500 billion. We, the Africans, the poor countries, are giving France US$500 billion year-in year-out.” She argued further that Africa must tell “France that the $500 billion you are taking out of Africa every year, no more. France needs to be the Third World developing country, not Africa. No more shall we continue to be exploited. France can no longer take $500 billion out of Africa.”
Shortly after these comments, Dr. Quao was unilaterally relieved of her position as the AU ambassador to the US by the AU Commission chairman, Chad President Moussa Faki Mahama who holds the African Union presidency in 2019. Enraged by the unjustified dismissal, a section of the African diaspora community petitioned the AU authorities and demanded her reinstatement. This diaspora community that knew her and her activities quite well felt she must have been dismissed for being outspoken and critical of neo-colonial tendencies fostered by the West, especially France, to keep Africa in perpetual poverty. To get to the root of the matter they had raised the following questions: “Why was she dismissed, or better, who benefits from her removal? Were African heads of state and governments consulted? Who called the shot? Or is Africa, and peoples of African descent, still facing the debilitating effects of modern colonialism or neo-colonialism?”
However, in reaction to the petition and growing antagonism towards the AU over the matter, the AU in a November 19, 2019 communique stated that Arikana was dismissed for the way she misconducted herself while in office. According to the AU statement, “a high-level team was deployed to the AU Representational Mission to the USA in Washington DC from 16 to 26 October 2019 to carry out a supervisory audit of the Office activities. During this mission, the team found evidence, corroborated by Dr Quao that she initiated and implemented with AU funds, activities of the following entities that have no AUC formal approval or legal link to the African Union, nor any of its organs.” The statement further added that the “team found that the above entities, initiatives, associations and/or corporates have conducted” some activities backed by Dr. Quao “without prior knowledge or consent and against the rules of the African Union.”
Just like usual trite defences given by governments in trumped-up charges against oppositions, the AU supposedly investigated the allegation only after it had issued a dismissal letter. Little wonder, former president Jerry Rawlings would question the independence of the AU and criticise the dismissal as a “shameful behaviour” and “an act that can be described as coming from French-controlled colonised minds”.
For the benefit of those who do not understand the import of Chihombori-Quao’s revelation, it is pertinent that the predicament of the African people in the hands of colonial interlopers is put in perspective. As well documented in Walter Rodney’s 1972 book, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa and Kwame Nkrumah’s 1965 seminal work, Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage Of Imperialism, since the 1950s when France literally plundered and destroyed Sekou Toure’s Guinea over the latter’s clamour for independence, French African colonies have maintained a colonization continuation pact that puts $500 billion yearly into French Treasury. This psychopathic blend of paternalism and parasitism justifies the irrational sum as colonial tax for the benefits of slavery and colonization. Besides, the pact also demands that African countries deposit their national monetary reserves in the Central Bank of France, report to France annual reserve and balance, and also privileges France with the right of first refusal on any raw or natural resource discovered in the ex-colonies.
Among others, the pact also grants first consideration to French companies and interests in the award of government contracts; exclusive right to supply military equipment and train the country military officers; right for France to pre-deploy troops and intervene militarily in the country to defend its interests; obligation to make French the official language of the country and the language for education; obligation to use France colonial currency FCFA; renunciation to enter into military alliance with any other country unless authorised by France; and obligation to ally with France in situation of war or global crisis.