Connecting African Diaspora Leaders Through Food

   Dine Diaspora Signature Dinner guests at the table during dinner | Photo: Caroline Adegun Photography

Dine Diaspora Signature Dinner guests at the table during dinner | Photo: Caroline Adegun Photography

“Let’s do lunch” is a popular one-liner heard among leaders when they meet for the first time. It’s seldom clear if this phrase is a genuine gesture or a simple act of courtesy that has become a norm in professional settings. Whether these lunches occur or not, the habitual comment highlights the role that food plays in connecting people. A meaningful conversation over food can turn a mere professional acquaintance into a friend or business partner. The act of sharing a meal with someone is a powerful occurrence that enables networking beyond exchanging business cards at conferences and meetings.

For African diaspora leaders, networking over food has always been a critical way to not only make connections, but to celebrate shared culture and heritage. History tells the story of a lunch between two great African diaspora leaders — Kwame Nkrumah and Martin Luther King, Jr. During Ghana’s independence celebrations in 1957, the men met for lunch in Accra, Ghana. King recounted in a 1959 letter to Nkrumah:

Words are inadequate for me to express my appreciation to you for the hospitality that you extended to me and my wife. It was most gracious of you to take time out of your extremely busy schedule and receive us for lunch at your residence.

***

   Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah hosts Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Ghana during the independence celebration, March 1957.

Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah hosts Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Ghana during the independence celebration, March 1957.

As King and Nkrumah ate in 1957, other African diaspora leaders have connected over food in similar ways. Today’s leaders require meaningful connections in a fast-paced, technology-driven society where relationship building can be difficult. Therefore, Dine Diaspora convenes African diaspora leaders for dining experiences that provide a platform for valuable connections as they enjoy the flavors of the diaspora. Known as “Signature Dinners,” these intimate gatherings of diverse diaspora leaders are curated to create a space where leaders meet their peers and discuss topics from identity to business opportunities. With each bite, the table of multi-generational leaders, from seasoned civic and business leaders to start-up entrepreneurs, build relationships that extend beyond the table.

Food is an integral part of each Signature Dinner. Paired with great conversation, a featured African diaspora chef is woven into each experience. Storytelling through food, guests are led through the chef’s culinary journey that can take them from Ghanaian jollof rice to Senegalese poulet yassa. What is on the menu is just as important as who is at the table. As a result, every detail of the evening, from the food and invite list, to the focus of the discussion, is carefully planned and executed.

   Chef Eric Adjepong plates the South African inspired Chicken Roulade with Piri-piri mayo sauce for dinner guests | Photo: Chi-Chi Agbim, Two Twenty

Chef Eric Adjepong plates the South African inspired Chicken Roulade with Piri-piri mayo sauce for dinner guests | Photo: Chi-Chi Agbim, Two Twenty

Founded in 2014, Dine Diaspora has convened over 40 diaspora leaders through its Signature Dinners and helped facilitate business partnerships, mentor-ship, and friendships among African diaspora leaders. These leaders represent over 15 African countries, the United States, and the Caribbean, with diverse professional sectors from health to government and technology. While the dinners serve as the catalyst for connections, the real magic happens after the events when leaders who met at Signature Dinners, continue building relationships and working together in different ways.

So, imagine being invited to a dinner with Nkrumah and King at the height of their leadership and discussing Pan-Africanism, leadership, cross-cultural differences, and the latest African novels. Imagine an unforgettable meal that complements the robust discourse. Now, imagine leaving the dinner with the confidence that you had not only learned from them, but had made a connection that could result in advancing your leadership. This type of experience is what Dine Diaspora brings to life through its dinners. While you cannot dine with Nkrumah or King today, there is no shortage in African diaspora leaders. From now on, instead of saying “let’s do lunch” to the next African diaspora leader you meet, you can have a seat at the Dine Diaspora Signature Dinner and make a lasting connection one bite at a time.