It’s really hard, and when it’s all said and done doesn’t appear to be for everyone. But most of us know it’s an incredibly noble, brave and courageous thing to do. So let’s break down four reasons to go back home and three reasons to stay put in the diaspora.
1) Money and Entrepreneurship
From a purely selfish standpoint, it’s much easier for a person to leave the West and make their fortunes in Africa than it would be had he not left in the first place. During his or her time away, they have had their creative faculties ignited by exisiting in a different land with different people, institutions and rules.
This may in turn spark ideas for businesses that have long since been taken for granted abroad but are yet to make a hit on the continent of Africa: examples may be outsourcing, an African Itunes or the mobile phone ring tone market outside of South Africa (perhaps?).
So people could easily go home to cut and paste businesses and make killings. I know that a lot of y’all probably have at some point thought about taking some business idea or invention to Africa and how it would make you the black Buffet. There’s one part of the equation.
The other part is the difference in currency. African currencies are much weaker than foreign ones. That means that if you are able to create cashflow sources abroad and/or sell a business(s) the value of your money is much greater as soon as you set foot on the Dark Continent.
For some of you the cashflow might even be operating on auto-pilot meaning that not only does your money’s value increase on the basis of the foreign exchange but also because you have free time with which to design your ideal lifestyle using this money. Trips throughout Africa, contribution to your community and a nice plot for you to grow old in. And all this in the country of your birth……Something to think about.
2) To Follow in Great Footsteps
Lord knows how accurate Wikipedia is but I read this article about how the US together with Britain planned out the decolonization of the world. They intended on educating the next crop of African leaders to take over in their own countries and then leave Westernized minds to proliferate Western ways of life.
That means that the story of a lot of Africa’s great leaders, Nkrumah and Nyerere, just to name a couple, is one of people who left the luxuries of the West to return to a life of servitude in Africa.
For the “more enlightened” Africans these are some absolutely phenomenal shoes to fill and walk in. In addition to that a life of service is “the right thing to do” because a lot of us know that:
People at home can be controlled easily because of poverty and ignorance
Most of us in the diaspora are well educated and have more than enough to survive
We can share this knowledge and resources and help people come out of poverty and suffering
That equation is far from a mystery and for a lot of us it is the driving force behind our being here.
3) To Be With People Like You
The person who created the expression, “There’s no place like home,” must have been an immigrant. You never forget or lose a special connection with the place that gave you your way of life, your language, your culture, your history and most of all, your initial sense of belonging.
A lot of immigrants don’t feel very welcome abroad or don’t feel welcome in the same way as we did in our native habitat. We want that feeling again and we want it every single day. It’s surprising how rarely this is discussed. This alone is responsible for huge numbers making the ocean migrations.
Nursing homes suck! Retiring as an old person on a plot and being taken care of by your little nieces, nephews and grand children seems much better than your destiny being controlled by a cranky 22 year old African lady in a retirement village after a long life well lived.
We want to retire in style and in dignity and so we return to the place where we can: home.
1) The People are Mean
I don’t think it’s any secret that Africans being on the bottom of the racial totem pole for many generations has left us with not-the-most-pleasant of personalities. We have inferiority complexes, insecurities and faults and very rarely work on them directly (when we do, the results are usually magnificent, just examine African music, philosophy and literature to get a glimpse of that)
Instead we decide to bring each other down to size and viciously attack anyone or anything that even begins to remind us of any feelings of inadequacy. This means that verbal diarrhoea, anger and negativity directed at each other is commonplace. And this isn’t even the main reason we can be so bad.
Lest we forget, most Africans are dirt poor. This is not a pleasant experience. People don’t have the time to be nice to you when they are robbing you to eat for that night (though surprisingly some thieves are very generous and courteous, go figure…..). Until Africa is an egalitarian society where we feel as though we are all whole human beings equal to people from all races and nationalities, we probably won’t stop being so mean.
2) It’s Hard
For those who do decide that they want to do something for the community, life is hard. Remember how most people are mean. Now mix that with a hatred and dislike for “people who have come from abroad to tell us what to do because they think they are so special now that they have spent a few years overseas” which a lot of immigrants get when they return.
Throw in a huge dash of sexism if she’s a woman and tribalism and xenophobia regardless of their ethnic background. Splash in a whole lot of ignorance and illeteracy. Mix that up with some really corrupt politicians who like things just as they are.
Put the Western government-industrial-corporate-military complex which also likes the status-quo on top of all that and you have the road that an African community organizer must take.
It’s considered noble, courageous and given great rewards for a reason, it’s bloody hard!
3) You Like Where You Are
Don’t let the hype fool you: money isn’t the root of all joy.
Don’t let the haters fool you either: the West isn’t all about money.
In this place, whatever your journey to your bliss, you can find it. If you wish to find people who have chosen the strictly spiritual path to self-actualization, you’ll find them here. If you’re after the Wall Street money-hungry folk who only see the cents in dollars, they’re all right here. Searching for people who put family and people above all else they are right here.
Whatever niche and experience and road to nirvana you have chosen, chances are you will find it in the West. To leave all of that and return to Africa which has a long way before it becomes the experience-buffet that the West isn’t a small ask.
So let me ask you, will you ever go home? Why? Why not? Leave a comment and let me know.
Be blessed and bless others,
PS: I just thought I would ask y’all whether or not I should continue with the series in which I explore different people’s viewpoints on living in Melbourne. I just wanted to check if people were finding some use in it now or I should postpone it till later when I’ve established the foundations of the blog a bit better.