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<i>African Times</i> Provides Link Among Millions of African Immigrants - 2004-05-05

Thousands of newspapers serve U.S. immigrant communities. The African Times is aimed at the three million people from Africa who live in the United States. The newspaper also sponsors the Africa Achievement Awards, which will be presented May 21 in Beverly Hills, California.

Nigerian immigrant Charles Anyiam says he found a gap in news coverage about Africa when he first came to the United States. "The few mainstream media that did it, they didn't give enough attention, and the objectivity was missing in the small space or time allotted to Africa," he said. "Hence, the African Times."

Today, there are websites for African immigrants like, but in 1989, when the African Times started, there was nothing like that.

The monthly newspaper now has a circulation of 86,000, and reaches tens of thousands more as readers share it.

It covers African politics, culture, travel and business. Recent issues have looked at Senegalese singer Baaba Maal, at contemporary African artists, and at the illegal market for oil, siphoned off by pirates from Nigerian oil pipelines.

Mr. Anyiam, who was a journalist in Nigeria, says his paper appeals to expatriates, scholars and others.

"We have the larger American audience, what we call the Afrophiles," he said. "We have the African American for heritage reasons. We have the African immigrants. And then we also have the Afro-Caribbean, who are very interested in Africa."

Friday, May 21, the newspaper will present its annual Africa Achievement Awards in Beverly Hills, California. This year's honorees include Dora Nkem Akunyili, a Nigerian official who works to remove fake and altered pharmaceuticals from the Nigerian market. Singer Miriam Makeba will receive a lifetime achievement award.

Ron Mracky, the African Times' marketing director, says previous honorees have included former U.S. president Bill Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and former South African president Nelson Mandela.

"The Africa Achievement Award concept basically grew out of a celebration of Africa into a very meaningful thing which was to award or identify those people who somehow during the year, or over their lifetime, basically have contributed something to the development of Africa, and also to the relationship between the United States and Africa," said Mr. Mracky.

He says the event also commemorates Africa Day, which is celebrated May 25, and it comes just a month after the 10-year anniversary of South Africa's Freedom vote. The first open elections in that country were held in April, 1994.

African immigrants can be found in most large U.S. cities. There are significant numbers of Ethiopians in Washington D.C. and Somalis in San Diego. Nigerians can be found in many cities. The population is diverse in culture, language and religion. But editor Charles Anyiam says his monthly publication provides a point of contact, and that many non-immigrants are also among his readers.

"We have more new immigrants, and also with the new political climate in the world, people are becoming more curious about what's going on in different parts of the world, and Africa is no exception," he said. "So we are having more and more people call our office. We have more Afrophiles, government, libraries, academia, ordinary people on the streets who are getting more and more interested in Africa."

And he says for African immigrants, the African Times offers a way of staying connected with their homeland.