How The African Magazine came to life
BY KOSSI GBEDIGA
The Fifth Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner in honor of then-South Africa’s president, President Mandela, held on October 6, 1994 in a major Washington hotel coincided with the launch of the first ever (upscale) African magazine published in the United States: The African, the brainchild of award-winning African reporter Soumanou Salifou who was unaware of the planned function until earlier that day.
Coincidentally, the two headlines on the glossy, bright-color cover of the maiden issue of the pioneering magazine were: “Benin President Nicephore Soglo’s Crusade Against Afro-Pessimism,” and “Fashioning a New Black Consciousness,” with a great picture of the president wearing a breathtaking African costume. Hundreds of copies of the magazine were distributed during the dinner with virtually every guest and reporter holding one.
In the Publisher’s Statement titled “We will tell our own story,” Salifou wrote that the mission of the magazine was two-fold: to tell the full story about Africa as objectively as humanly possible, and to fuel the laudable on-going efforts to reconnect Africans and African Americans. He added: “Africans are fed up with the Doomsday stories about their continent in the Western media. African voices are needed in the American media to effectively fight the never-ending bigotry that has made some of us lose hope in ourselves. The need to believe in ourselves has never been greater.” He concluded in these words: “It is time, indeed, to tell our own story.”