Long before I helped to launch The Africa Channel cable network back in 2005, I was called, “Miss Africa,” by so many people, because of my love, work, and devotion to the continent. Then, and now, I’m constantly asked about all things Africa. The most common question: WHAT IS — OR WHO IS — THE “AFRICAN DIASPORA?”
Well, aside from being one of the most overly-used buzz phrases of the decade, “diaspora” literally means, “scattered.” So, the generally accepted definition of “African Diaspora,” (pronounced: dye / ass / per / uh) – in case you were wondering, refers to those Africans living outside of Africa – over 30 million of them living abroad, with 10 million of them living mostly in North America and Europe, according to the 2012 Migration Policy Institute report.
But, depending on whom you ask, the term “African Diaspora” often has expanded meaning.
The African Union (AU) concurs that, “The African Diaspora consists of peoples of African origin living outside the continent [of Africa], irrespective of their citizenship and nationality,” then adds: “and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union.” By this definition, to simply be descended from Africa isn’t enough; to earn the label of Diasporan, one must be a donor who contributes to the estimated $60 billion US dollars that are annually sent back to Africa through remittances from the Diaspora.
Many African Americans believe that the term “African Diaspora” is based not solely on Africans born in Africa who immigrate to other lands but based on any descendant of Africans who were enslaved (mostly from West and Central Africa) as a result of the Atlantic slave trade, and brought to the Americas and elsewhere. In this context, it doesn’t matter if you are a first, second, third of fourth generation African. If your ancestor is from Africa and you are living outside of Africa, then you are an African living in the Diaspora.
According to a 2013 Brookings Institution’s Africa Foresight Report, which includes in its account of 30.6 million African Diasporans today — nearly half of them are migrants living within Africa.
Then there are my native born African friends and colleagues who immigrated outside of Africa to other locations who have two additional beliefs: (1) that there are several categories of Diasporans: those who leave Africa and don’t look back; those who don’t want to discuss Africa; those who choose to live abroad forever and never look back or reach out; and those who are first generation immigrants who are emotionally attached to Africa and very passionate about what they can give back, and (2) some believe that for all intents and purposes, the term “African Diaspora” pertains to anyone with African blood in them, regardless of skin color.
Uhm… wouldn’t that be everyone – in the world?
So, which theory do you subscribe to? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Shoot me a note at email@example.com and let’s get a dialogue going.
And if you haven’t traced your roots to a modern day country and ethnic group in Africa, you need to do it – it’s life changing! Don’t be fooled — www.africanancestry.com is the only company that can use your DNA to trace your lineage to a specific modern day country and ethnic group in Africa when African ancestry is found. Check it out!