African Diaspora Engaging Africa (ADEA) Initiative Building Community of Practice at Boston University

The Boston University African Studies Center (ASC) and its Diaspora Studies Initiative hosted a breakfast meeting and workshop of the African Diaspora Engaging Africa (ADEA) Initiative on Saturday, January 19, 2019. The ADEA Initiative seeks to facilitate supportive platforms for the African Diaspora to engage in Africa’s development. This initiative creates a diverse and productive community of African Diaspora living in the Boston area and engaged in collaborative projects in Africa to share experience and resources, and foster collaboration. As an African Diaspora engagement effort, it aims to build the capacity and provide support for the African Diaspora to realize its potential as a crucial partner of Africa’s development. Partnerships are being sought with diaspora organizations interested in collaborating with and assisting African communities, development organizations, practitioners from the private sector, and the academic community.

The goals of the event included bringing the practitioners together, while developing the vision of the ADEA Initiative and working out the mechanics of a Community of Practice. Discussions built on the findings from the baseline survey report that ADEA had administered among organizations engaged in mobilizing the assistance of Diaspora to Africa. Workshop participants also shared experience of their activities and discussed success stories and challenges. The hosts of the workshop from the BU side elaborated on the history and current activities around African Studies and Diaspora. Dr. Daivi Rodima-Taylor of the BU ASC Diaspora Studies Initiative provided an overview of the topics studied and activities facilitated by the program, while Dr. Eric Schmidt, Assistant Director of the ASC, talked about the history and resources of the African Studies Center. Possibilities for a continued engagement with the academic community of BU to build the ADEA Community of Practitioners were explored.

Mr. Emmanuel Owusu, leader of the ADEA Initiative, presented a comprehensive vision of the future activities of the Initiatives, including elements such as capacity building and benchmarking, resources development, diaspora engagement, forging of partnerships with African institutions and development partners, and allying with academic partners. The goal for the first year of the ADEA Initiative is to engage and provide capacity development support for twenty (20) diaspora-initiated projects, and expand the number to fifty (50) projects in three years. Mr. Owusu also elaborated on the three underlying components of the ADEA Initiative – community of practice, training institute, and the incubator program.  He emphasized that partnership with the BU ASC and its Diaspora Studies Initiative is valuable for the success of the Initiative, bringing together those interested in African development, and BU students, scholars, and faculty, in a mutually beneficial engagement.

Organizations and initiatives that participated in the workshop were diverse, including STEM-based childhood education projects; initiatives focused on assisting orphans and the handicapped; community development-engaged hometown associations; rural youth empowerment initiatives; music projects; initiatives dealing with medical, first aid, and sanitation issues; projects organizing book donations to schools and libraries; and anti-corruption initiatives. The projects partnered with communities and institutions in countries all over the continent, including Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Guinea, Uganda, Mali, and Togo, to name a few. In-depth presentations of ongoing initiatives included the discussion of iNERDE, focusing on STEM education in Togo, Mali and Burkina Faso, by Mr. Mohamed Kante, and Rural Youth Empowerment Initiative in Rwanda, by Mr. Todd Fry.

Participants commented on the workshop as follows:

“The ADEA Community of Practitioners first meeting was full of energy, enthusiasm and great ideas. I am extremely grateful to the Visionary, Emmanuel Owusu, for working with the Boston University African Studies Department to put together such an impactful meeting. I left invigorated and inspired to continue the work we do in Africa. I am proud to be a member of this community. I believe we will support, inspire and empower each other. I am eager to contribute to the success of this dream team.” – Lynn Dadzie-Yeboah, Alexis Miranda Foundation, operating in Ghana

“We are grateful and humbled to be included in this group of inspired and inspiring entrepreneurs, dedicating their time and energy toward a shared commitment to creating opportunity for communities across the African continent. There is no doubt that the collaborative efforts of those who gathered in the BU African Studies department on a chilly Saturday morning will lead to impactful alliances and supportive partnerships.” – Debra Shapira, Flying Kites, operating in Kenya

“The first gathering of ADEA Community of Practitioners was inspiring and we thank Emmanuel Owusu for his vision. It was encouraging to see fifty organizations represented and to know all of us are engaged in various development projects in Africa. Whether hearing about providing clean water, helping students access STEM classes, caring for orphans or any of the many other initiatives, we were encouraged just by coming together and sharing a common commitment to development in Africa. We look forward to networking further within this group.” – Deborah Brown, Executive Director, Kulea Villages, operating in Tanzania and Kenya

“The African Bridge Network and BU’s African Studies Center have set a very appetizing table for all of us!  Now the question is how we can all take advantage of the opportunities … which seem to be almost endless!  Already from the first meeting I’m in touch with some other initiatives and we even see possible collaborations that can strengthen our efforts.”  – Todd Fry, Rwanda Youth Partnership, working with Rungano-Ndota Initiative, operating in Rwanda

Rungano-Ndota Overview

“The first meeting of the ADEA Community of Practitioners, spearheaded by Emmanuel Owusu and the BU African Studies department was a revelation for me. I was so inspired and revitalized by meeting other like-minded individuals and hearing of their various initiatives, and realizing the common goals we all share was encouraging. I am reminded of why we do this work, and feel very grateful to have the opportunity to collaborate with everyone on this team and share our strengths. This community is an invaluable resource, and I look forward to our next meeting.” – Brooke Wilder, Ubuntu Music Therapy Initiative, operating in Kenya and other East Africa countries.

Write-up by: Emmanuel Owusu ( and Daivi Rodima-Taylor (