Magazine article New African

What Do Diasporan Africans Owe Africa? Do Diasporan Africans Owe Africa Anything? What about Africans Born in Africa but Now Living in the Diaspora; or Those Born in the Diaspora Who Travel to Africa Regularly?

Magazine article New African

What Do Diasporan Africans Owe Africa? Do Diasporan Africans Owe Africa Anything? What about Africans Born in Africa but Now Living in the Diaspora; or Those Born in the Diaspora Who Travel to Africa Regularly?

Article excerpt

Lately, I have been meeting a lot of African-Americans who have decided to make their home in Ghana. Looking at some of what these people are trying to do got me thinking about what Africans in the Diaspora owe Africa. And you know it is not so easy because there are so many classes of Africans living in the Diaspora. But for the sake of this article, I decided to reflect on (1) African-Americans; (2) Africans born in Africa but now living in the Diaspora; and (3) Africans born in the Diaspora who travel to Africa regularly.

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So let me start with African-Americans. And I will start with the famous artists simply because they are a wealthy group of people with the power to influence others. Believe it or not, I don't believe any of these artists owe Africa anything. Period. Yes, it is obvious that by their black skin they originated from Africa. But these people were born and bred in America.

They are American in thought, lifestyle, upbringing, and in the way they view the world. They are people whose roots in Africa go way back, but they have never lived in Africa and do not have any emotional ties to the continent. Even if they can trace their ancestral roots and thus locate living members of their families, I don't believe they owe Africa anything.

On the other hand, I think they owe their fans in Africa something. That is totally different to owing Africa the continent something. Some of these artists are "conscious" artists who always sing about going to the Motherland. They lament about how Babylon is treating them and seeking refuge in the bosom of Mama Africa. They chant for the beautiful African Queens and Empresses and dream of raising beautiful black children on sunny African soil.

Other artists sing about their diamonds and care less about what is going on in Africa. Either way, it does not matter. They all still owe something to their fans on the African continent. You see, when event organisers want to bring these artists to their fans in Africa the demands are outrageous. Instead of considering that many of their fans across Africa are the poor youth, these artists demand first-class tickets for their entourage, including parents and grandparents, who see this as a wonderful opportunity to touch their toes on African soil before they depart to join the ancestors!

These artists tend to forget where they themselves are coming from - the ghettos of America. And it is the likes of the ghetto youth in Africa who have made them what they are today. All across the continent, it is commonplace to see young men wearing T-shirts with artists such as 50 Cent on them. Yet if such an artist were to perform in Africa, many of these young men wearing the T-shirts would find it difficult to afford the ticket, it all starts when the artist asks for huge performance fees, then all the extras - airline tickets, accommodation in a five-star hotel, a luxury four-wheel vehicle, you name it, they will want it. The demands are many and it makes it difficult for fans in Africa to see their favourite artists live. With all the wealth these artists have accumulated you can say yes, they owe it to their fans in Africa to humble themselves and maybe even pick up a tab or two.

Hey, it really would not hurt someone like Jay Z to say he would pay out of his own pocket and fly to any African country, perform for the people for a low fee and have all the monies collected be donated to a charity or project in that country. It would not break his bank account. That much we can say he owes his fans.

I think we Africans on the continent sometimes mix our priorities because the only people that owe us anything are the colonisers who tried to take everything away - our strongest men and women, our history, our culture, our spirituality, our food, our music, our science and philosophy, our artefacts etc. These people owe us because they stole what belonged to us! …

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