Youth Summit: Wakanda Generation Unites for Africa

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Deniece Laurent-Mantey (center) spoke in a panel with Janel Martinez (left) and Cyrus Kawalya (right). (© HK Media)

Growing up in the United States as a first-generation child of Ghanaian parents, Deniece Laurent-Mantey often seized the opportunity of her direct connection to the African continent.

Through her relationships with many Africans and African Americans, she realized the importance of being unified. Now, as a U.S. foreign affairs officer, she works to connect more people on both sides of the Atlantic.

"There is a true impact we can make as young leaders if the diaspora and folks on the continent come together, but the first step is through identity,” she said at the inaugural African Diaspora Young Leaders Summit on August 3 in Washington.

At the summit, 100 Mandela Washington Fellows of 2018 met an equal number of their counterparts from the African diaspora, or people of African descent, to discuss ways the groups may connect to advance development in their shared homeland.

Melvin Foote, president of the Constituency for Africa, voiced optimism about their efforts. “I am confident that you will be the generation to transform Africa. … You’re going to be the Wakanda Generation,” he said, referring to the fictional kingdom of the Marvel superhero Black Panther, which is both a place deeply rooted in African heritage and a center of invention.

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