A round table was held in December 21, 2019 in the Bronx by African Immigrants ‘Commission of NY & CT, Inc in partnership with NKO USA Inc and Mandingue NKO West Inc. 2020 Census was the talking point. Mory Kouyate, chairman of African Immigrants ‘Commission of NY & CT, Inc in this interview gives more details about this round table
African Immigrants ‘Commission of NY & CT, Inc in partnership with NKO USA Inc and Mandingue NKO West Inc have organized in December 21, 2019 a round table that brought together NKO’ scholars and community leaders. What was the goal of that roundtable?
This was an initiative taken by the African Immigrants’ Commission of NY&CT Inc to conduct a NKO 2020 Census round table . The goal of this round table was to lay out the facts that it is possible to apply a written African language like NKO to our day to day lives. To accomplish this task Djibrila Diane, the Vice President of NKO USA Inc carried out a very detailed presentation to educate the audience about the history of NKO and all the progress that has been made to push the language to take its rightful place among all the world languages . Some of the progress made include the development of a computer code that enable NKO communication on computer and on cell phones. The development of this computer code enabled people to do all their works in NKO on a computer. Everything that you can do in English can also be done in NKO including typing , sending emails , receiving emails and conducting research. We take these simple tasks for granted now but it took a long battle to accomplish this milestone. We also discussed why it is important for the US Federal Government to adopt NKO or any other African languages when they translate the 2020 Census. Furthermore, we discussed why this will benefit the community here in the US and What is the best way to push this initiative?
How many people in New York city speak NKO ?
NKO is a language spoken by over 38 million people. The question is what percentage of this population will be impacted if NKO is adopted to be used to translate the 2020 census. This is a question yet to answered. Nonetheless, we know that there is already a very big immigrant community that speak NKO in New York City. The adoption of NKO will enable the community to better understand the question on the Census and other government documents in the future.
African Immigrants’ Commission of NY & CT has impacted the life of many Africans in New York since it was established one year ago. What kind of role your organization would like to play on behalf of African people in the ongoing process of 2020 census?
December 26th ,2019 will mark the first anniversary of African Immigrants’ Commission of NY&CT incorporated . I always say, it is not how old an organization is but how many years the members have been working in the community and how much experience they have working in the community. We benefited greatly by having experienced community leaders like myself and our Vice President Menepele J.Nuhann leading in our executive board.
AiC was born out of the need to serve our community and to give our community a voice. We have carried out our mission this year by establishing September as African Heritage Month in Bridgeport Connecticut. The Mayor issued a proclamation, which has recognized it on September 9th, 2019. We have also advocated on behalf of our community-based journalists and our business leaders to be recognized by our elected officials. To date we have recognized over fifty (50) people this year alone. They received proclamations, Citations, and certificates from the NY City Council, the Assembly and the Senate. These awards are meant to empower and recognize our people for their contribution to the improvement of our community .
The kind of role that we will play in the ongoing process of the 2020 Census will be to make our community understand the importance of taking the Census and not to be afraid to take the census when they knock on your door. It is said that New York city lost a US Congressional seat due to people not taking the Census last time. We want to help make sure this does not happen again. A big thank you to Famod Kone from the NYC Mayor’s office. He was a part of the round table and he did an amazing job educating us about the importance of taking the Census.
You said in an interview that African Immigrants’ Commission of NY & CT is both political and social organization. How easy or difficult it is when it comes to play that role in the African community?
We have faced some challenges, but we have the best executive board. We all work together to solve problems. This makes it much easier to work in the community. Teamwork is key. Furthermore, I would like to use this opportunity to correct this statement. We have decided not to call ourselves a political organization. We are an advocacy group, a social group that gives a voice to our community. We just filed for our 501(c)(3). We want to be a 501(c)(3) organization. If we call ourselves a political group in this case, we have to fill for a 501(c)(4) which is not going to help us very much.
What is the main strength and the main weakness of African Immigrants’ Commission of NY & CT?
The strength of the African immigrants’ Commission of NY&CT incorporated comes from us working together as a team of leaders serving our community. Nineteen (19) executive board members on one (1) page, speaking with one (1) voice and working as one (1). So far what can be considered a weakness the fact that we still do all this work pro bono. We have to do our day jobs first before doing the community work. We are trying to change this by aggressively applying for grants as soon as our 501(c)(3) clears, so we can have full time paid advocates for our community.
Do you have a specific message for African communities regarding the 2020 Census?
Do not be afraid to take the 2020 Census. Fill out the form and get counted.
And what message do you have for African Immigrants’ Commission of NY & CT members?
The days of the immigrant community not having a voice is over . Let’s continue to engage our elected officials. Let’s keep their feet on fire so they can best represent us, they work for us after all. We thank our community leaders that work tirelessly for our community. We wish everyone a happy and productive new year 2020. If you want to work with us please feel free to call me. Mory Kouyate, Chairman of the African Immigrants’ Commission of NY& CT, Inc at (917)500 5440 or Email: Africanimmigrantscommission@gmail.com
By Bazona Barnabe Bado