With the current Chairperson of the African Advisory Council (AAC), Mohammed Mardah, stepping down from his role at the end of his term, Sidiki Donzo will be running for the position in the upcoming AAC election held on January 12th, 2023. The AAC is under the Bronx Borough President’s Office, but it looks to serve the people of the Bronx and the rest of New York.
Donzo was born in Liberia. In an exclusive interview with LittleAfrica News, he said that he did not have a good childhood due to the civil war that occurred in Liberia. “I didn’t have a good childhood because I was born into the war. When the war started in 1989, I was three, four years old,” he said. Instead, Donzo and his parents were forced to move from one country to another looking for a better life. He eventually went back to Liberia where he graduated from high school. While he initially wanted to study civil engineering, he ended up studying and completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics.
As a young man, Donzo got the opportunity to go to the United States of America. After Donzo arrived in the U.S., he discovered that the life of an undocumented immigrant was difficult. He decided to prioritize and persist with his education, completing further courses of study. “I am trying to be that African that can stand and tell people, this is my track record and I want everybody to do the same and nobody is left behind. We are all capable of doing anything we put our mind to,” he said, referring to his belief in the power of education.
Donzo found himself yearning to assist the community. As an immigrant, he felt as if he understood their needs and wants. Prior to leaving Liberia, Donzo told his friends that one of his greatest desires was to meet former President Barack Obama. Because of the role he played in his community, Donzo got the chance to meet Obama through the former president’s organization, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. Donzo calls meeting Obama “a dream come true” and sees it as an event he manifested while still in Liberia.
Donzo also started a non-profit organization known as Young Black Men Alliance. The organization’s mission was to mentor the youth in his community. The mentorship would be provided by people with great jobs or positions and those who had excelled from a position of struggle. The organization was incorporated into the AAC and Donzo overlooked the operations under the AAC as chairperson. Donzo has continued working with the AAC as the Vice Chair for the Good Governance and By-Law Committee and sees this as the right time for him to step up as chairperson.
In his Letter of Intent for Chair of the AAC, Donzo wrote that he has four goals he means to execute if he assumes office. He aims to create an effective manner of communicating with the community. “AAC is charged with being the voice of the Community. We cannot serve the people without being able to connect with them,” he wrote. He wants effective communication across all platforms between the AAC, other organizations the Council works with, and community members. Communication within the AAC is something he will look to develop, by ensuring all executive board members are aware of what is happening in the community. Donzo says one of his greatest qualities is delegation and developing leaders. He said he will delegate accordingly and teach members of the AAC the appropriate skills for the council to function well.
The creation of opportunities is an idea Donzo wants to invest in. He recognizes that the city has opportunities for Africans to earn a living, but he believes that, in some instances, they are unaware about them. Donzo spoke on construction projects in the Bronx that he can potentially connect people to since he has great knowledge of that area. When speaking about the spreading of information and knowledge that can be helpful to the community, Donzo encouraged the media and platforms such as LittleAfrica News to continue doing the hard work they have been doing to educate and inform communities across the city.
The potential chairperson of the AAC also spoke of the creation of an internship committee. This would be a committee that ensures young people in the city are afforded opportunities in companies that operate and profit from relationships with the AAC. Creating a pathway to employment through the AAC is one of his goals.
Donzo laments the fact that there is no available source for the history of the AAC. He acknowledges that the former and older members of the AAC have an important role to play, and believes the elders and former leaders can provide wisdom or advice in certain situations to the next chairperson. Donzo intends on creating a role for them if he wins the election. He also promises to create a website with all the information regarding the AAC and the various programs and events it is involved in.
In order to vote at the AAC election on January 12th, you have to attend two meetings, which will be held on December 8th and January 12th. Anyone can vote in the election as long as they attended the meetings. There are no racial or residential requirements in order to vote. The positions being contested are those of chairperson, vice chairperson, secretary, and liaison.
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