Origins and Objectives
WIACT took root in founder Rashid Iddrisu (Wari)’s experience as an economic migrant to Europe. He started his journey in March 3, 1998 and arrived in Canary Islands detention camp on October 12, 2000. Thirty-eight days later, he was set free. After two days he flew to Barcelona, Spain, landing...in the streets.
He began to help himself and other African migrants gain papers and meet basic needs, eventually founding the NGO—CEHDA—operating in Barcelona, Spain and Sawla, Ghana. Disillusioned with the migration experience, he considered how to address the underlying issues leading young people to decide to risk everything to get to Europe. He decided to return to his African origins and heritage, realizing they are significant, valuable resources for contemporary life. He soon was taking European volunteers back to Ghana to help with children’s education and to experience community life in African villages.
And then he started thinking about what sustains human development.
Rashid collaborated with Mette Brogden—a cultural and medical anthropologist and our international advisor--to conceive and found WIACT in Ghana in September 2019. She is a professor of Human Rights Practice at The University of Arizona in Tucson, USA. She emailed Rashid after reading a chapter he had written in the 2016 book, Understanding Migrant Decisions: From Sub-Saharan Africa to the Mediterranean Region, and asked him to do a guest lecture in her class on migrant journeys from West Africa to Europe. He has lectured in several classes since.
We registered a U.S.-based non-profit (WIACT USA) in Arizona in April 2020 to assist with disseminating the WIACT’s work across the world.
Our initiatives have been germinating for many years, and WIACT now gives a home and gathering place for all who are interested to learn of the rich knowledge and cultural traditions held by African peoples. Our philosophies contribute to healthier natural and social ecologies based on respect for self and others. Traditional Africa emphasizes reciprocity in relationships, community ownership of land and natural resources, and flows of goods and services to all.
We Advance Development in Indigenous Communities
Based on What People Know and Have
• We honor our elders because their wisdom empowers next generation. We document the traditional knowledge that our elders possess about how to survive and help them pass their knowledge to future generations.
• We help our young people learn marketable skills and develop pride in their heritage, enabling them to resist the lure of Europe and participate instead in the great regional renaissance that is emerging across Africa.
• We help local people make use of their own available natural and cultural resources to develop new livelihood strategies, taking advantage of new international niche markets.
• We provide opportunities for cultural exchange, hosting people from other countries in our communities, arranging tours, cultural experiences, and volunteer opportunities.
• We share the music and dance traditions of diverse ethnic groups to promote peace. Drumming brings people together.
• We sponsor research and dissemination of indigenous languages and knowledge. We can host researchers and scholars who want to do fieldwork related to our mission.