ANSWFL’s Organizational History
African Network of SW Florida (ANSWFL) was founded in the year 2004 by a group of far-sighted people from different African countries. Eng. Eze Wokocha from Nigeria was elected the first president. Eze spearheaded the registration of ANSWFL as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. He remained at the helm until June 2013 when his long-time VP, Dr. Peter Ndiang’ui from Kenya was elected as the second president. For a foundation base, we inherited an exceptional legacy laid out by those who felt that there was need for a networking organization for people from the African continent as they get assimilated to their new home in SW Florida. Since the inception, ANSWFL members have undertaken numerous activities like setting up scholarships for our students, recognizing graduates, organizing economic forums, supporting philanthropic efforts in Africa, making connections with different African countries, welcomed dignitaries to the region, setting up community-awards for environmentally-sustainable efforts in Africa, providing humanitarian aid when calamities strike in the continent, and many other such projects. Out binding cord however remains our networking with each other. We are firm believers that when we work together as a team, there is exponential accumulation of synergy that is generated for the benefit of each and every member of the team. We hope to leave a stronger and more sustainable organization to those who come after us. We enjoy our togetherness and cherish the fact that we are our brother’s and sister’s keepers. We support one another in all kinds of ventures – social, cultural, educational and above all economic. Together with our members, supporters and related organizations, the board has put together a comprehensive list of programs and opportunities that we can all benefit from. Please check this website regularly to see the upcoming events.
This is an exciting time in the history of the continent of Africa and African people. We are experiencing unprecedented socioeconomic growth in all corners of our beloved continent. Some of the world’s most rapidly economies are found within our lovely continent. The flourishing use of technology and the rapid growth of educational institutions have stimulated a vibrant economy. The large youthful population has served as catalyst for the dissemination of information from one country to another. As members of the recent African Diaspora, we look back with pride at the dramatic changes taking place at home and feel that we have an obligation to let the world know. That is why we exist. The African Network aspires to be a lively and innovative community that will enrich cultural, professional and economic life through the development of programs that link our members with those at home.
Old Problems Persist
We would be naïve and unrealistic to believe that all is well in the continent and with all our members. As we have been reminded over and over again, we are there to laugh together when there is cause to do so (or even when there is no real cause!) and cry together when calamities befall us. Yes, from time to time, each one of us needs a shoulder to cry on. At home, in spite of the rapid development, there are still many of our people that have never enjoyed the fruits of independence. The continent is still plagued with such evils as unnecessary wars, poverty, political instability, dictatorships, rampant corruption, ethnicity, diseases, huge economic inequalities and many more. It is a shame that in the midst of so much, there are people still dying of famine and lack of medical care. It is a shame that we still have immoral leaders who claim to be above the law and can do anything they deem fit to their subjects. They are more misleaders than leaders. Their days are numbered and they will receive their due reward in the fullness of time. As Martin Luther King Jr stated “The arc of moral universe is long but it bends towards justice”. It is gratifying to observe that after the Arab Spring, democratization is spreading like a wild fire throughout the continent. People have stood up to hitherto untouchable dictators. Yes, political and economic power is slowly shifting to where it belongs to the people.
Africa in the Global Arena
Globalization is here to stay. Increased diversity in all regions of the world require that we embrace each other and make necessary adjustments in our lifestyles to accommodate diverse groups with lifestyles that are totally different from ours. As an organization we strive to evolve and adapt in response to the demographic and socioeconomic changes taking place here in our new homes, at home in Africa and in the world as a whole. In the African Network, we are excited about our future with the building of a new generation that believes in togetherness. The bulk of our members believe that, in spite of the dynamic changes, regardless of our differences we are stronger together. Yes as per the mystical Ubuntu teaching, “I am because you are”. It is the essence of living. Your life is not worth much if it is not to serve other people. The organization serves as a forum to build one another reach their goals and lift our brothers and sisters when they fall. Education is a big priority in what we do. We recognize and celebrate those who have succeeded in any educational pursuit beginning with high school graduation all the way to doctoral degrees. In addition, we proudly provide scholarships for those involved in higher education.
The Drum Still Beats in Our Hearts
In the cultural perspective, the African Network aims at helping to bring the beautiful African culture to Southwest Florida, the region we now call home. As we assimilate with the greater community in the region, we have a niche to play in multiculturalism. Yes, the drum still beats in our hearts even though we are far from home. We believe that we are an important conduit of decolonizing the minds of those who still believe that Africans live on trees or wonder if we learned English when we immigrated to America. It is important to educate each other and our youth in particular on the greatness of our culture after decades of subjugation in the hands of western culturalisms. Our dynamic members are already doing so much to help in shedding-off long held stereotypes about Africa in their communities and work areas. It often feels like a humongous task to convince some people that Africa is not all about Safaris. Besides the animals, you will meet amazing loving and caring people if you visit Africa. Yes, encourage tourism to our countries.
Please reach out to each other and to the organization. Yes, it is your organization. Let us know how we can get better – together. Remember that you do not have to have come from Africa to be our member but you must abide by the values we stand for. Most important is respecting all members regardless of their background.
Thank you again and enjoy the website and learning more about us. If you happen to be in SW Florida as a resident or a visitor, please check us out. We encourage you to join our organization – you will not regret it. We love welcoming new members.
Dr. Peter Ndiang’ui