Still recovering from the trauma caused by Transatlantic trade in humans (slave trade) and haunted by the remnants of colonianism, Africans, home and the Diaspora seems to have a new consciousness waiting to blossom.
It’s a new beginning; a future, but independent city within two countries. Christened African Renaissance City, it’s designed as “home for all nations, Black people in particular, irrespective of nationalities, “to become one and free” from the nation state borders created by colonialism.
Also, it is “in tribute to departed and enslaved African Ancestors”, a documents on the project states.
Quietly starting from the scratch with several culture-related events spread across the year, African Renaissance City is designed to cover border areas of Republic of Benin and Nigeria, with as much as 600, 000 acres expected to be taken across the two countries. Already note able personalities such as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Prof Wole Soyinka, American civil right activist, Rev Jesse Jackson, Late Ambassador Segun Olusola, Giles and Yvette Saverd-Forget, among others have been inducted into the African Renaissance consciousness during the last five years of the project.
“It’s a concept that started 30 years ago,” the founder, Beninese Olofindji Akande repeated part of his earlier statement during a chat with one of his guests. He had just led over three hours procession of the 2013 edition of the African Renaissance convention titled Humanism at the Benin rural area of Akpotokou, near Ilara, a border town between Ogun State and Republic of Benin. About an hour earlier, Olofindji had, on behalf of African Renaissance, honoured over 10 people including royal fathers from the border towns and some young enthusiasts of the projects.
Also, posthumous honours were given to Ambassador Segun Olusola and a Beninese Erin Ilu Rabiu Asabi Adeaga. Among top dignitaries and multitude of pilgrims at the entrance of the future city where the ceremony held were familiar faces such as a monarch, the Fadesewa of Simawa, Ijebu, Oba Gbenga Sonuga, Thomas Atanda Idowu, Arolagbade II of Dinyin and former Director-General, Voice of Nigeria (VON) Chief Taiwo Alimi.
The concept, Akande stated, was inspired by what he described as the needs for Africans to have a centre of spiritual convergence. He therefore sees African Renaissance as the Blacks' "Vatican City”, where people across nations will feel at home, except that unlike the Roman city, "African Renaissance is not based on one religion; its home for all faiths."
And in seeking support for the project, Akande disclosed that "it has the recognition and support of UNESCO."
At the period of the visit, there were activities spread across three days, involving visitors from the African continent and the Caribbean. However, the only visible structure was what looked like the entrance to the future city; a huge plaque, erected as one makes a roundabout at an ongoing road construction designed for the city.