Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Union of African Communities in Pittsburgh Marks First Year With Officer Election, Diversity Events

The Union of African Communities in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County has marked its one year anniversary with the formal election of officers and plans for a major event in August to celebrate and highlight the region’s diverse international communities in the days leading up to the G-20 Economic Summit.

Members of the group, which represents African-born individuals and representatives of 20-plus African organizations in the region, elected Benedict Killang (Sudan) –President; Ahmed Sheriff (Sierra Leone) - Vice President; Rufus Idris (Nigeria) – Secretary; Dr. Annamore Matambanadzo (Zimbabwe) – Treasurer; John Kwateng (Ghana) and Ibrahim Muya (Somalia) – Public Relations Officers.

Elected as Advisers were Samuel Duah (Ghana), Malu Mutombo (Congo) and Zedueh Doerue (Liberia).

One of the group’s co-founders, Rufus Idris, 27, has lived in Pittsburgh for two years and works as executive director of Christian Evangelistic Economic Development (CEED) in Highland Park.

“We came together because we felt that many of the African groups in Pittsburgh were not able to make their voices heard,” he said. “With this election, we believe that we can speak with a united voice for our members.”

The Union of African Communities comprises leaders of over 20 African countries and communities living in the Pittsburgh region, African student organizations and numerous other groups and companies.

The group’s goals are “to foster unity, empowerment, linkages and improve the quality of life of Africans in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, through acting upon the needs, concerns, challenges and opportunities,” and “to have well-informed, empowered and united African Communities in Allegheny County, the entire United States and the African continent.”

Rufus IdrisOne of the group’s first major undertakings was to complete a Needs Assessment of the African Refugee and Immigrant Communities in the region. The document already has been used to begin the process of improving efficiency and reducing overlapping of local social services programs, Idris (right) said.

Member communities and organizations include: Ghana, D.R Congo, Sudan, Liberia, Zambia, Nigeria (Ibo & Yoruba), Cameroon, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Angola, Guinea Conakry, Togo, Benin, Tanzania, Burundi, Eritrea, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Africa Quest, African Christian Fellowship, Pittsburgh Area African Professionals Organization, African Women's Club, African Student Organizations (University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, LaRoche College and Indiana University of Pennsylvania), African Synergistic Think-Tank, African churches, African Islamic community, Balafon West African Dance Ensemble and Tropic Groove.

Idris said that an event planned to bring together the African communities has been expanded to include the Hispanic, Indian and other communities in the region. The free event is planned for Aug. 29 at the Union Project in Highland Park from 5-9 p.m.

He also is developing a “Diversity Ambassadors” program to enable young people in the Pittsburgh area to welcome newcomers from diverse international backgrounds and help them find their way in the community, in addition to other programs to encourage diversity and welcome immigrants and internationals.

For more information about the Union of African Communities, send email to or call 412-759-4565.

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