Almost every African country is trying to engage with its diaspora. However, when it comes to how to convince the African diaspora to work with their country of origin, the methods used are not working. One of the first things that comes to the mind of most Africans living in Africa is to ask the diaspora to help them, forgetting that no one is helping the diaspora for free. In contrast, the first thing that enters the mind of most diasporas is not how to help Africa, but whether Africa knows why they have left the continent and what they are doing abroad!
Do I need to underline that many African immigrants have left the Black Continent because they were chased away by some leaders and sorcerers who, today, are begging them to invest back home? Most Africans leaders are not trying to better know and understand their diaspora before asking them to come invest their money in Africa. Sometimes, I even wonder how many African Professionals in the Diaspora are richer than the African leaders who are begging them for money. Worst, some African leaders act like if their diaspora have forgotten the wounds they have suffered in Africa before finding a way to flee the continent of Kwame Nkrumah. Undoubtedly, a lot of basic first steps needs to be addressed in order to start aligning the mentality of Africa with that of its diaspora. Otherwise, the synergistic coalition needed for African Diaspora Engagement will continue lacking!
The migration of the diasporas from their home country to their new country of residence is a kind of “divorce or break up” with their roots. Some Africans have had some bad experiences with their own people that they do not even want to reverse their “divorce” with the continent of Nelson Mandela. Other immigrants have been highly afflicted by the people in their home country that they do not want to hear any request coming from them. No intelligible man dates a woman by starting to ask about anything that is supposed to be last. Moreover, no reasonable man can win back his ex-wife or ex-girlfriend, and vice versa, by starting the conversation with a list of requests or a list of things that the ex must do. Sadly, certain political leaders who orchestrated the migration of their own people cling to power and then, ask their diaspora that they have hunted to come and invest in their country. These types of diaspora engagement cannot work, particularly in the African context where people seem to pull each other toward the bottom of the misery pit. At the same time, many foreign countries are taking advantage of the divergences among the Africans!
The engagement of the diaspora in the development of their home country must follow certain basic rules of courtesy. I believe that Africa and its diaspora need to start “dating” each other in a format similar to that of a man trying to win back his ex-wife or ex-girlfriend, and vice versa. However, while some people that have broken up can easily find new loves, it is not easy for most diaspora to quickly forget their roots and embrace the culture of their new country. This implies that many opportunities still exist to start engaging the African Diasporas in a dialogue with their homeland which dearly needs them. For this dialog to succeed, it must not begin with begging the diaspora to come back to Africa or to invest in Africa. Similarly, the diaspora should not inaugurate this dialog by requesting that the African political leaders change overnight. The African Diasporas need to know that, though their new life abroad has changed the way they used to think, many of their brothers and sisters in Africa still act as if they have no brain or if they cannot get rid of the legacy of the colonial ignorance. Therefore, the African Diaspora must be tolerant with their own people who need to be willing to realign and renew their mentality so that synergistic coalitions can be fostered in a win-win framework for the advancement of our dear Africa rather than allowing the so-called super powers to continue poaching their rich lands and mines like a cake of their grandmother or like their heritage or like the field of their slaves!
When it comes to engaging the African diaspora in the development of Africa, ten questions need to be asked first:
- Who are the African Diaspora?
- Who is who among the African Diaspora?
- Where are they living?
- What are they doing?
- What problems are they facing?
- Why did they leave Africa?
- How can Africa help them to heal some of their wounds?
- What can we do to forgive each other and embrace a new journey of partnership?
- How can we partner rather than how can they help us?
- How can we initiate this partnership without bringing up money as the first issue?
And these questions must be answered without forgetting the millions of African-Americans, descendants of the slaves, whom some “stupid” or naive African Leaders think are not worthy to be called African Diaspora! It is after these questions are sincerely addressed that Africa and its Diaspora can start talking about who can do what for who? Without following these simple strategic steps, the African diaspora will just keep creating thousands of African Diaspora Associations, while the African Political Leaders will keep creating more Political Parties in Africa, yet, sinking Africa.
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by Roland Holou