African youth and parents get to communicate at the Bronx Community Enrichment Day

Translated in French by Marinette Sommerville

Members of the African community know that when a parent speaks, the youth who hasn’t live long enough should listen.

So the open dialogue between African youth, parents and community members that took place during the 3rd Community Enrichment Day on October 11, 2012 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts was new to many.

For Fatima Sesay, a young Sierra Leonean woman, parents need to listen to their kids instead of yelling at them.

“If you yell at them that forces them to go out and do what you don’t want them to do at the first place. And when they get in trouble, it’s on you because you raised them that way.”

But City Councilmember Diane Foster, who hosted the event with the 16th Council District African and Muslim Council, said this initiative is just one of many to come, and the dialogue will surely continue.

“This day was about empowerment, bringing people and information together. It’s my obligation as an elected official serving a large immigrant population. Talking about problems that African immigrants think just pertain to them, you realize that it relates to you too. If you come from a place where the culture is different from the U.S., you have to learn how to walk in these two worlds. And I think it’s important for young people to express what they are going through as Africans living in America, the same way, parents have to express what their concerns and fears are, raising an African child in America. We will continue the dialogue and we will continue to bring resources back to the community so people know where they can get help.”

For Ramatu Ahmed, one of the community leaders honored that evening, the fact that parents are busy working to support the family financially and the lack of community involvement are to blame.

“Here (in America) we don’t have the community involvement of taking care of our children. We don’t have a place where our kids can go to do their homework and learn others skills. It’s very hard for parents to assimilate the system and raise their children at the same time. That’s where the problems begin. That’s what creates a gap between parents and children.”

Even if solutions were not found for all the issues raised, at least an important first step was taken.

The evening ended with an award ceremony. Twenty “rising stars” in the African community were honored, including Sadick Abubakar, Kojo Sahara Ampah, Stephanie Adowa Arthur, Zurfau Mohammed-Ali, Famod Konneh, Ebrahim Ndure, Momodou Sawaneh, Lamin F. Bojang, Passyna Bula-Bula, Divine Muragijimana, Okenfe Libartey, Charles Cooper Jr., Moses Kanduri, Zainabu Sesay Harrel, Rita Kusi, Pius Bugembe, Arao Ameny, Diana Musah, Natasha Gwet, and Belco B. Maryama Bocoum.

African leaders and organizations such as Ramatu Ahmed, Mohammed Abdullai Awal, Sheikh Moussa Drammeh, Imam Soulimane Konate, the National Council of Ghanaian Association, and Ofori Anor, were presented with the “Longevity in Leadership” Award.

Photos of the event