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What is the African diaspora?

Are you an African American? Have you ever wondered what the terms African diaspora mean? Do you want to learn more about your history and culture without having to flip through large history books? Did you answer yes to all the questions asked? If you did, then this article was written for you and in this article, we’ll be taking a look at what the African diaspora means.

What does diaspora mean?

The term “diaspora” originates from a Greek word that means to scatter about. Diaspora is used to refer to a large group of people that have a similar homeland or heritage who have moved out to places all around the globe.

Types of diaspora

Initially, diaspora was used to refer to people of dominant countries who emigrated voluntarily from their home countries in order to colonize countries that have been conquered. Today, there are different types of diaspora but scholars only recognize two of these types which are the forced and voluntary diaspora. 

Forced diaspora 

Forced diaspora occurs as a result of traumatic events which include war, enslavement, imperialistic conquest, or natural disasters such as extended drought or famine. 

Voluntary diaspora 

Voluntary diaspora on the other hand refers to a community of individuals who left their home countries to search for economic opportunities (greener pastures). A good example would be the massive emigration of people living in the depressed regions of Europe to the United States in the late ’80s.

What is the African diaspora?

The African diaspora is a worldwide collection of communities where natives of the community are dependents of native Africans, in order words, you can say that they are people from Africa. The term is majorly used to refer to descendants of the central and west Africans who were enslaved, traded, or shipped to Africa through the Atlantic slave trade.

The Atlantic slave trade was predominant in the 16th and 19th centuries, with the largest populations residing in Brazil, the United States of America and Haiti. The term African diaspora does not only refer to descendants of western and central Africa, it can also be used to describe the descendants of North Africa who migrated to other parts of the globe.

It’ll interest you to know that diasporic communities do possess or share a certain number of characteristics. What do we mean? Despite their current location, members of a diasporic community do share emotional attachments to their ancestral countries, they are well aware of their dispersal and in certain conditions, they are also well aware of the alienation and oppression they experience in the countries they now reside in. Additionally, members of a diasporic community have a sense of ethnic, religious, and racial identity which transcends geographical boundaries. Many times, members of these communities articulate the desire to return to their original homeland but are unable to because, during the immigration, records were not kept, so the people living in such communities may never truly know their origin and by true origin, I mean the particular African country where their ancestors lived in.

Jennifer Alex

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