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  • Yazarın fotoğrafıMoussa Hissein Moussa

The African Diaspora and Their Return to Homeland Crisis: Motives, Challenges, Problems and Difficulties


Introduction

The African Diaspora is composed of individuals with African origins that live abroad. This diaspora is playing an increasingly influential role socially and economically around the world. The presence of the Diaspora contributes immensely to the development of the continent. However, it has its origins in negative influences such as the slave trade and colonialism, and is exacerbated today by problems such as poor governance and internal conflicts on the continent. Panafricanists have long emphasized the importance of integrating the diaspora with Africa. This is because the secession of the diaspora could compromise the understanding of Africa's identity and historical contributions. In this context, a crucial issue is the willingness and motivation of the African diaspora to return to their home countries, as well as the challenges they encounter.



Motivations for Return

Within the African diaspora, individuals, both originating from the transatlantic slave trade and the ones that migrate in search of a better future, often at a certain point in their lives, under certain favorable conditions, consider the idea of returning to their motherlands. This complex decision is often driven by a variety of factors, which can be divided into two main categories: "natural" motives and "exceptional" motives.


"Natural" motives reflect the diaspora members' search for a favorable environment to achieve their personal and professional goals. First of all, the possibility of having their qualifications properly assessed is of utmost interest. Many members of the African diaspora feel that their talents and contributions in foreign countries are not sufficiently recognized. Therefore, when they observe an improvement in the business environment and development opportunities in their homelands, they may be more willing to return where their professional skills and abilities will be fully recognized and valued.



Similarly, the opportunity to compete on equal terms is another motivator for return. Diaspora members may face institutional or socio-economic obstacles abroad. However, when they observe a reduction of these barriers and a commitment to equal opportunities in their homelands, this may encourage them to return and compete on equal terms with other citizens.


Finally, a favorable environment for entrepreneurship is also one of the motives for considering a return to their homelands. Many members of the African diaspora aspire to start businesses or contribute to the economic development of their homelands. If they observe that there are initiatives to support entrepreneurship and improve the business environment in their native countries, this can be a determining factor in their decision to return.


"Exceptional" motives reflect the deep conviction of diaspora members to work for the welfare of their countries of birth, even in difficult circumstances. First of all, a sense of patriotism plays a vital role. Despite the difficulties they face in their country of birth, some members of the African diaspora feel a deep attachment to their homeland and a strong sense of responsibility towards it. In contrast to "natural" motivations, "exceptional" motives take a different perspective. That is, instead of simply returning when everything is fine, they aim to contribute to making things better. Here, patriotism takes priority and the diaspora does not connect their return to specific circumstances; the only effective factor here is patriotism.


For some members of the African diaspora who, despite facing challenges, are determined to overcome them in their home countries, utilizing their skills, resources and energy, the desire to work for their homeland is another remarkable motivator. This comes with a desire to undertake significant efforts to overcome these challenges and create a favorable atmosphere for progress.



The Impact of Economic Conditions on Return

The economic outlook and political stability in Africa are critical factors influencing diaspora members' decisions to contribute to the development of their country of birth or to seek other opportunities.


Firstly, favorable economic conditions that offer opportunities for business and entrepreneurship can encourage diaspora members to return home. On the other hand, economic instability and high unemployment rates may discourage their return. Similarly, political and social stability favors the return of diaspora members by providing a safe and predictable environment. However, for the motives that we have consistently categorized as "Exceptional", economic and political challenges may increase some diaspora members' sense of responsibility towards their homeland and encourage them to contribute to the development of their countries despite these challenges. Here, economic and political instability becomes a source of motivation and a challenge to overcome for the diaspora motivated by a sense of patriotism.

 


A High Opportunity Cost Contribution

It is extremely important to emphasize that the diaspora is a vital resource for the economies of African countries. For example, in 2019, according to World Bank data, Senegal received $1.4 billion in official development assistance that year and net foreign direct investment flows amounted to almost $1 billion, but remittances from the diaspora (migrants) exceeded $2.4 billion. This amount constitutes a vital financial resource for the Senegalese economy, exceeding the sum of total development assistance and foreign direct investment.


However, given the low level of industrialization and the import-oriented consumption pattern of many African countries, such as Senegal, the funds sent by the diaspora, often intended to only subsidize domestic households, further deepen African countries in the consumption system.

In practice, if we include conversion fees (conversion from Euro to CFA Franc or from dollars to Euro and then to CFA Franc), taxes on transfers and taxes on product imports, for a consumption of 5 Euros in Africa, the diaspora needs to mobilize approximately 10 Euros. In Africa, it is as important to consume as to produce. In the words of Thomas Sankara: "Let us consume what we produce and produce what we consume".


Games to Understand and Pitfalls to Avoid

The trap into which many of the Diaspora fall is the predetermined investment methods and sectors of the imperialist system. According to historian Amzat Boukari-Yabara, The African Diaspora that goes for enrichment by any available means is at risk of becoming easy prey for the new imperialist policy, especially France's African policy. This policy does not aim to abandon the former colonies to their fate, but to move away from them in order to leave them to the care and support of an elite class. In other words, it is a transition from the so-called "direct" system of neo-colonialism to the "indirect" system.


The "Africa-France" summit in Montpellier in 2021 describes the situation very clearly. The French government is reorienting itself after noting the growing awareness of African youth and recognizing the inevitable dynamics it represents, focusing on the rising momentum rather than maintaining alliances with former dictators. The formation of the Council of Presidents of Africa (CPA) shows a structure made up of young people, mostly dual citizens, entrepreneurs or active in civil society. However, the question here is whether Africa really needs such a diaspora or youth in general. It seems, instead, that the presence of a youth conscious of global, regional and national issues is necessary. According to Amzat, on the African continent, different countries, communities, youth, children, women, farmers, urbanites and others are organized according to their own norms, interactions and perspectives about life in the society. This wealth of diversity cannot be ignored by everyone.


The Diaspora must take these realities into account before being overflowed with illusions. Its purpose is not to be a burden or an obstacle, but to contribute to the continent's progress by sharing knowledge, experience and the necessary skills. However, it is important to distinguish between expertise in a field and the imposition of an experienced ideology. Dr. Cherif Salif Sy criticized the growth associated with foreign investments, describing it as "impoverishing". This kind of growth contributes to the impoverishment of the continent as a large part of value added comes from the continent, mostly from external partners. In other words, such growth does not create jobs for the abundant labor force in the country. If it can be said that foreign investments are made only for the benefit of Africans, then bulk imports of products from foreign countries should be discouraged and then establishment of factories on the ground and the employment of local labor should be highly promoted.

 


CONCLUSION

The issue of the return of the African diaspora to their homelands remains an important issue that requires the attention of all, depending on their socio-economic and socio-professional positions, in order to find appropriate responses. In a context where government institutions in Africa are challenged to meet the needs of the population, the issue of return of their diaspora becomes complex and brings about other concerns such as depletion of human resources and brain drain. It is up to governments to take this issue seriously. There is also a necessity for the continent's youth and diaspora to develop a greater sense of patriotism and become more involved in politics to implement Western ideals in their home countries. Before embarking on a process of change, it is important to recognize that no one, not even God, will improve the condition of a society before a process of change begins. Otherwise, a better world will not create itself; it will call for commitment, organization, sacrifice, but above all it will require patriotism. As Thomas Sankara said, "Only struggle liberates". But we must believe, as Amilcar Cabral said, that "the struggle must go on". Because just as much as Africa needs its diaspora to develop and prosper, the diaspora needs Africa to find its way and define itself. In this context, historian Elika M'Bokolo argues that: "We cannot separate Africa from its diasporas without risking breaking the momentum of panafricanism: Without Africa, African diasporas have 'no identity'; without diasporas, Africa would lose sight of the magnitude of both its past and present contribution to our world, and the global dimension of its responsibilities".

 

 

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