Diaspora Africa Conference panelist lineup for a photo.
Diaspora Africa Conference panelist lineup for a photo. Credit: Laura Onyeneho

The Ion, Houston’s vibrant hub for innovation and collaboration, opened its doors to the inaugural Diaspora African Conference on Oct. 4.

People of African descent from across the city and beyond engaged in discussions about the diaspora’s role in shaping the future of Africa. With a diverse lineup of speakers, including prominent figures from academia, policymaking, entrepreneurship, and the arts, this event was a melting pot of ideas and perspectives.

Panelist delved into crucial topics such as the economic influence of the African diaspora, its contributions to education and research, and its profound impact on African culture and arts.

“There are people who don’t have ties to Africa that know that Africa has a lot of resources. We want to protect it and makes sure that it is used to develop the continent, and not for the development of other countries,” said Eze Chukwu, founder of Diaspora Africa Conference. “We have the human capital to make this happen, but we need to figure out how we can collaborate and tap into our skillsets to accelerate the pace of growth in Africa.”

The state of Texas alone has one of the largest African populations in the country, and the conference explored ways to enhance diaspora involvement in African development and tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

“Those of us in the Western world who’ve come for greener pastures, we’ve come to realize that we are thriving in countries that benefit from Africa,” Chukwu said. “That needs to change.”

Chukwu launched an application called the Diaspora Africa Mobile App, as a way to connect with other Africans in the diaspora to access information about African-owned businesses, organizations and services from all over the globe.

“This is a very important time to embrace our African American brothers and sisters who are interested in investing in the continent. It is there home, as well,” said Hakeem Tijani, Founder Tech4Africa. “It is great to see African Americans owning plots of land in Africa, setting up businesses, thriving and becoming expatriates.”

Ayo Shofoluwe, founder of PeacexPiece, said he came to learn about how to be effective as a community leader and entrepreneur. He will be hosting the upcoming Golden Renaissance event on Oct. 21 celebrating Africans in the diaspora through arts and fashion. Shofoluwe said this is one way he wants to highlight and showcase the talents of the next generation of leaders.

“When you’re a young, Black entrepreneur pitching ideas, especially around the arts, many struggle to understand the value or the vision,” he said. “I’m excited to connect with like-minded individuals, but mostly the seasoned professionals in various industry sectors. There is so much to learn from them.”

Eliza Opoku-Asidu, co-creator of the Esty shop, EllTwinsInspire, said this is the African Renaissance.

“We are the chosen ones. We are the next leaders. The right people are coming together to exchange ideas and create action plans,” she said. “It’s time to rebuild African and heal the motherland.”

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...