The sociopolitical climate in the U.S. has finally come to a proverbial and literal head. With racial tension brewing at every corner of the country many African Americans are feeling more disenfranchised than ever before. Not only has the recent death of George Floyd resulted in nationwide protests, it is causing many African Americans to wonder if the U.S. is the best place for their well-being.
Discussions about African repatriation have always been a part of the African American narrative since the abolition of slavery. Since this time the repatriation conversation has been the centerpiece of many pro-black dialogues throughout the nation. The aftermath of a series of recent killings of African Americans has only served to heighten this conversation.
If you are considering this as an option for escaping the systematic disenfranchisement and disparities in the U.S., be sure to consider the following before you make your move.
Ethnic identity is not an issue for the average African. Most Africans are very familiar with their tribal lineages and a number of them still adhere to the traditions of their tribal heritage. With the proliferation of DNA testing made widely available to the general public, a number of African Americans are also starting to learn more about their African heritage. As such, African repatriation can provide African Americans with the ideal environment in which to learn about, embrace, and practice their African heritage.
Some African Americans who have lived in an African country have reported feeling a closer connection with their roots. Present company included. Being on the continent has a way of making one feel whole or complete in terms of understanding who they are. In which case, African Americans don’t feel alienated or as disparaged when they are able to live among people who look like them.
On the other end of the ethnic identification spectrum is xenophobia, which is quite prevalent in a number of African nations. Xenophobia is effectively dislike of or prejudice against foreigners. In African this concept is most often displayed among black Africans from different nations. And it generally has to do with economic attainment.
It has become increasingly common for Africans from various nations to migrant to other parts of the world in search of a better life. This includes migration to other African nations. In which case Africans who immigrate to other parts of Africa may be able to secure better employment and other opportunities than the Africans living in the nation. This practice has resulted in tension, hostility, and violence against these immigrant Africans.
Conversely, the vast majority of Africans would probably welcome African American repatriates to their nations at first. However, it is likely that feelings of camaraderie among Africans and African Americans would soon diminish in the wake of economic advancement of African Americans living on the continent.
In many instances it is easier for African Americans to acquire better paying jobs and higher social status than Africans in certain African countries. If this occurs on a mass scale due to more African American repatriating in large numbers, it is likely that African Americans will also start feeling the impact of xenophobia in Africa. In which case, African Americans could experience the same disenfranchisement that they are trying to escape in Africa.
Most African nations are ripe with business opportunities since many of these nations are in the infancy stages of development. African Americans who repatriate to the continent will not face a shortage of ways to invest in Africa. Almost any business will be viable in many African nations because of the dearth of development across the continent. In this way African Americans could enjoy many rights and privileges as profitable business owners who are able to contribute to the economic growth of African nations.
Their service to the country would be greatly valued and they would most likely be greatly respected by individuals in the community. This is especially the case if their business provides job opportunities to locals.
While many African nations are perfect for business-minded African Americans, those without the economic means or the know-how to develop a business may not fair so well in Africa. In general, African Americans who desire to repatriate to Africa should secure their economic situation before moving to the continent as I previously discussed in my post about expat life in Africa.
Otherwise, they will probably find themselves competing with Africans for some of the better job opportunities in the country. African Americans must also keep in mind that the pay scale shifts greatly from the U.S. to Africa. It is unlikely that the average westerner will be able to maintain their same standard of living based on income generated from the African economy.
The exception to this general guideline is individuals who are able to secure employment with non-governmental organizations or multi-national companies. In which case many of these individuals remain in subordinate positions to western organizations, which are basically the same strongholds that they are trying to escape.
African Americans would have the opportunity to enjoy a natural, organic lifestyle in virtually any African country. Much of Africa is developing or underdeveloped in terms of industrialization. There are few manufacturing plants or large corporations that line the streets of any given African metropolitan area. Instead, there is plenty of natural beauty and untapped wilderness that often translates to a peaceful and nurturing experience for the inhabitants of such nations.
In general, Africans aren’t bombarded with the heavy burden of racism on a daily basis as are African Americans. While white privilege is still alive and well in many African nations, the vast majority of African nations are predominantly inhabited by black Africans. This means that though most African governments operate under colonial rule Africans don’t experience the same type of overt oppression as African Americans. In this way African Americans could possibly experience fewer health disparities related to toxic physical, mental, and emotional environments when residing in Africa.
While many African nationals enjoy a natural, holistic way of life they likewise suffer from infrastructural disparities. A number of discussions about the black experience in Africa often neglect the stain that colonization left on many African countries. Africa is not underdeveloped on purpose – this is purely by design.
African nations are not able to participate in capitalism in the same way as the rest of the world because few of them aren’t developed enough to do so. This means that they lack adequate housing, education, healthcare, and other essential systems to maintain a quality standard of living for the majority of their inhabitants.
While African Americans will probably be able to make more money than the average African while living in Africa, African Americans will still suffer the same infrastructural issues as the rest of the nation. African Americans will most likely have to travel abroad to seek out quality healthcare services or pay extra to live in standardized housing when living in Africa. In which case they will still experience similar lifestyle disparities as they did living in the U.S.
African repatriation is not a decision to be made lightly. Even more, it is not a decision that will most likely end the sense of oppression that the average African American feels in the U.S. African repatriation or relocation to any other part of the world is definitely not a panacea for racism, discrimination, and marginalization. Disenfranchisement exists at some level in every part of the world. And oftentimes black people are on the receiving end of such disparities.
However, when approached with sensibility and practicality African repatriation may be a viable option for some African Americans. As I have pointed out life in Africa has both pros and cons. There are many African Americans who can enjoy a prosperous, privileged life on the African continent. Though, this is definitely something that needs to be thought through with careful consideration.