Rethinking African diaspora strategy
By Bitange NDEMO
When Nigeria, in conjunction with the Organization of African Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), hosted a conference on the African Diaspora last month, it shed light on the untapped opportunities on the continent.
This event prompted a period of reflection on the developments relating to the diaspora, and provided an opportunity for Africa to reconsider the role of the African diaspora.
It is worth noting that leading up to the conference, there were numerous discussions regarding the desired outcomes, but no conclusive answer emerged.
One would have expected a conference of this nature to have a clear objective, allowing Africa to articulate how the diaspora can be leveraged for the continent’s transformation.
The conference sparked a global debate on the diaspora, with many individuals questioning the concept of diaspora and its connection to economic transformation.
Various responses emerged from blog posts and social media, with some suggesting that the African diaspora should invest back in their home countries, return and assume leadership roles, generate wealth and engage in philanthropy, or emulate the successes of other diasporic communities like the Chinese, Indians, Jewish, and Armenians.
While all of these suggestions hold some truth, the notion of mimicking other successful immigrant communities attracted significant attention and raised further questions.
Why did these communities succeed while Africans did not? Are there underlying factors that differentiate diasporic communities?
The strength of a diaspora can vary depending on historical circumstances, cultural resilience, and the presence of networks and support systems.
For example, the Chinese, Indians, and Jewish diasporas have demonstrated considerable strength and made significant contributions to their respective communities.
Each of these diasporas has a unique historical context, causes, and characteristics.
For instance, the Indian diaspora places a high priority on integrating and assimilating into their adopted countries while still maintaining their language and culture.
This approach has enabled them to succeed in business and politics.
The Jewish diaspora, on the other hand, emphasizes preserving their history and maintaining ties to Israel, which they consider their homeland.
Their long history of continuity and shared memory of persecution has forged a resilient and tightly-knit community.
Jewish communities have established extensive networks and linkages, fostering cooperation and solidarity across the globe.
The creation of the State of Israel in 1948 further strengthened the Jewish diaspora, providing a focal point for Jewish identity and a safe haven.
Israel contributes to the development of ties and mutual support among Jewish communities worldwide.
Despite being scattered throughout different regions, Jewish communities have managed to retain a strong sense of cultural and religious identity.
This is achieved through devotion to religious customs, traditions, and the preservation of Hebrew as a sacred language.
Synagogues, schools, and cultural institutions play a crucial role in supporting the preservation of their distinctive identity and sense of community.
The Indian diaspora has also succeeded in achieving a wider influence in economic and political spheres.
For instance, the ascension of Rishi Sunak to a prominent political position in the UK and the possibility of having an Indian President like Nikki Haley in the US showcase the influence of the Indian diaspora.
Additionally, many individuals of Indian origin hold key positions in Fortune 500 companies.
The rise of India as a major player in pharmaceuticals and information technology is also attributed, in part, to the contributions of the diaspora.
It is essential to recognize that the people of Africa have endured slavery, colonisation, and ongoing discrimination, much like the Jewish people.
It is time to ask ourselves: What should be Africa’s diaspora strategy? How can it be integrated with our homeland? What can serve as Africa’s binding glue?
In my opinion, we need to redefine the concept of the diaspora, building wider networks based on shared memories to create a true African diaspora.
By fostering a strong sense of cultural and historical identity, Africa can tap into the potential.
The writer is Kenya’s Ambassador to Belgium, Mission to the European Union, Organization of African Caribbean and Pacific States and World Customs Organization. The article is written at a personal level.
This piece first appeared on Business Daily