The African Diaspora and the Motherland
The knee-choking death of Mr. George Perry Floyd, 46, the North Carolina-born African-American citizen, by a 44-year-old white police officer by the name of Mr. Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020 in a dirty city street in Minneapolis, Minnesota, roiled up raw emotions around the world. I personally have relatives born and raised in Minnesota and others who have been living in the famous Twin-Cities, that is, Minneapolis and St. Paul, for some four decades now. So, the brutal killing of Mr. Floyd, described in some news reports as a nightclub bouncer, hit very close to home. It was also no intellectual exercise for me at all; I have been living with first-hand racial discrimination and harassment all 35 years that I have been an African immigrant, and 28 of these years as a bona fide self-elected naturalized citizen here in the United States of America. Which was also partly why I got very interested in the opinion piece authored by Ms. Elizabeth Ohene, the renowned Ghanaian journalist and former editor of Ghana’s foremost state-owned newspaper of record, the Daily Graphic.
In the main, the thesis of Ms. Ohene’s article, which is tersely titled “George Floyd: I Can’t Breathe Here” Ghanaweb.com 6/4/20), appears to be that, somehow, if all the very talented and ingenious technocrats and entrepreneurial African-descended wizkids, as it were, moved back “home” and contributed their mite to the building and development of the African Continent, somehow, all would be hunky-dory for the globally disdained and grossly mistreated African Personality or Person. Well, on the face it, such a well-meaning proposition could not be more visionary and progressive. But, of course, we first need to list and examine at least a couple of some of the salient pushout factors that created the African Diaspora, to begin with, and the recent outward migration of some of us Continental Africans into the Diaspora.
What readily comes to mind here is the fact that one cannot lightly overlook such postcolonial “Derek Chauvins” as the heavily armed uniformed men, for the most part, who forced themselves into the newly European-vacated seats of governance and proceeded to wantonly tyrannize and exploit the defenseless citizenries all over the place, as it were. I find it unnecessary to name any of the individual Strongmen, so-called, and Junta Dictators here. Suffice it to observe, at least in passing, however, that most of the recent migrants and immigrants into the African Diaspora or, properly speaking, the West or countries like the United States of America and Canada and some of the metropolitan ghettoes of the erstwhile European imperialist countries, such as Britain, France and Germany, were, for the most part, primarily motivated by critical and fundamental questions of human and civil rights violations, and the abject lack of the necessary opportunities to develop their aptitudes and talents or human resources, in order to be able to make the sort of socioeconomic contributions and impact that Ms. Ohene discusses in her article.
It is also instructive to “hear” the former British Broadcasting Corporation’s African Service correspondent underscore the “positive” impact of the raging Coronavirus or COVID-19 Pandemic in forcing Africans and our leaders to come to a sobering realization of the fact that we need to come together and studiously develop our local infrastructural resources in order to significantly slow down the massive exodus of our brain trust and human-resource assets that culminated in the sorry infrastructural and socioeconomic level and state of the African Continent which, undoubtedly, is remarkably to blame for the short-shrift treatment meted Africans wherever we find ourselves around the world. To be certain, long before Ms. Ohene made her recent observation, Russia’s President, Vladimir V. Putin, had widely been reported to have made the inescapably cutting statement and observation regarding the fact that the grossly and wantonly irresponsible leadership of African politicians had precipitated a “State of Graveyard Crisis” on the proverbial Primeval Continent.
The fact of the matter is that the salutary realization of the sorts of human-resource treasure that Ms. Ohene talks about in her quite instructive opinion piece, were made possible by the more development-conducive environment of the African Diaspora, the heavy presence hereunto of the brutal and deadly Derek Chauvins notwithstanding. Now, on the question of the “Indigenous African Diaspora,” as it were, these Africans whose ancestors were sold by some of their own African relatives and neighbors as war captives for profit, however insignificant, to European settlers in the so-called New World or the Americas, in our time, owe their Continental African kinsmen and clanswomen absolutely nothing! Which, of course, is not to either say or imply that the compassionate and conscientious decision by some of these Indigenous Diaspora Africans to contribute to the development of their proverbial Motherland, and Fatherland, too, is unwelcome because it definitely is welcome.
Where I vehemently beg to differ with Ms. Ohene is on the rather quaint notion that, somehow, the mere return to the Motherland by some of the Indigenous Diaspora Africans would necessarily extirpate the noxious existence and presence of the Derek Chauvins. It can absolutely not be gainsaid that there are as many Derek Chauvins here, in the United States, as there are on the African Continent; and the sooner we come to a sobering recognition of this inescapable reality, the better would we be served on this critical journey to finding a radical and lasting solution to this very human existential canker.
*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
June 6, 2020
E-mail: [email protected]
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