Arikana Chihombori-Quao
Picture of Arikana Chihombori-Quao
Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao
Africa Union representative to the US
In office
2017 – 7 October 2019
Personal details
Arikana Chihombori

Spouse(s)Dr Nii Saban Quao
  • Physician
  • Diplomat

Arikana Chihombori-Quao is a Zimbabwean diplomat who has served in various capacities for the African Union. She became the second representative for the African Union in the US capital.


Dr Arikana Chihombori-Quao grew up in a small village in Chivhu, Zimbabwe.[1]

Quao emigrated to the United States in 1977.[2]


She is married to respected physician Dr Nii Saban Quao.[1]


Quao and her husband have five children.


Chihombori-Quao completed her undergraduate education at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and later matriculated at Meharry Medical College where she earned degrees in general chemistry, a master’s degree in organic chemistry and a Doctor of Medicine.[1]


She spent three years in general surgery in New York and 25 years providing family medicine in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.[2]

After practising medicine she became involved in numerous AU programs and projects and Between 2012-2016 served as chair of the African Union-Diaspora Health Initiative, where she helped mobilize health professionals in the diaspora to assist in addressing the health care needs of the African continent.[1]

Arikana Chihombori-Quao was appointed permanent representative of the African Union Mission to the United States in 2017. She was relieved of her duties on 7 October 2019. In a letter addressed to Chihombori-Quao on October 7, 2019, Moussa Faki Mahamat said she was relieved of her position in line with the commission's rules.

Before her dismissal, she had publicly shared her views on France's occupation and hold over its former African colonies. In an online petition, African Diaspora Congress, demanded her reinstatement, saying she was fired because of "influence and pressure exerted on African leaders and people by the former colonial powers of Europe."

However, Ebba Kalondo, told CNN that Chihombori-Quao had come to the end of her political appointment after spending three years in the position, and to imply she was punished for her views was not true.[3]

An AU internal report alleged abuse of funds and office. The report alleged that Quao misappropriated funds, created a toxic environment for her staff and fundraised for personal projects using the African Union name.

The investigation, for example, found that Dr Quao spent $181,000 on an AU beauty pageant. The money was earmarked for other projects. The investigation alleges that Quao did not seek approval to spend that money on the pageant. Although she sold tickets online for up to $150 a person, Quao did not turn over sales to the African Union.

Commenting on the report, Quao called the investigation a sham and a witch hunt. She said she used ticket proceeds to pay members of the diaspora who had experience putting together the pageant. The investigation also found that a $10,000 grant from Chevron was never accounted for. Quao said the money never came to the African Union. She said when she became ambassador, she found an office in disarray.[4]

Awards and Honours

She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. Dr Chihombori-Quao also received an achievement award from Nelson Mandela.[1]


  • "We are beautiful, intelligent, sophisticated, highly adaptable and totally indestructible people – the Africans. Any other race that would have gone through what we’ve been subjected to would have been extinct and that’s the truth."[1]

  • "What bothers me is the realisation that the richest continent on Earth is the poorest. Our raw materials leaving Africa creates employment for the world and we consume the things we send out. Things are being stolen out of Africa and we need to stop the drain. But we are very capable to take care of ourselves. I am confident that the continued collaboration and more regional and continental trade will show us a new Africa. With everything else that other governments are implementing, we don’t have a choice. We have everything we need. Everybody knows this."[5]

  • "Regarding China, there is concern. China used sheer economics to get a stronghold on the continent. China came in generously with funding, but now leaders are realising this needs to slow down."[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Stacy M. Brown, The Wakanda One Village Project: African Union Ambassador Promotes Diaspora Homecomings, Published: January 11, 2019, Retrieved: February 6, 2021
  2. 2.0 2.1 Elaine Hegwood Bowen, Black Press conference speaker talks Berlin Conference and plans for Wakanda Village, Chicago Crusader, Published: February 14, 2019, Retrieved: February 6, 2021
  3. Bukola Adebayo, AU faces backlash after terminating ambassador's appointment, CNN, Published: October 16, 2019, Retrieved: February 6, 2021
  4. African Union Fires Ambassador To U.S., NPR, Published: November 14, 2019, Retrieved: February 6, 2021
  5. 5.0 5.1 Azad Essa, Q&A with AU ambassador to US Arikana Chihombori-Quao, Al Jazeera, Published: July 7, 2017, Retrieved: February 6, 2021