With all the serious problems facing African Americans in the US, I was not surprised to come across an online petition urging them to relocate to the land of their roots.
The petition first hit the headlines in 2015 and is allegedly from our brothers and sisters in the US.
The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if it wasn’t written by by some racist group that hoped it could rid the US of black people. But assuming it is legitimate, I see a host of problems with the idea.
First, Africa is not a country. The returnees would have to negotiate with each nation over where descendants of former denizens might be welcomed with open arms, and where there’d be no room at the inn.
Also, this could spur other Africans in similar conditions to seek asylum in Mother Africa. Let’s face, it African nations do not have a good record when it comes to refugees, be they internal refugees caused by drought, or victims of tribal clashes, such as Kenya’s IDPs.
When it comes to asylum seekers from other African countries, just look at the overflowing refugee camps in some of the most inhospitable parts of Kenya and other countries. Even countries like South Africa, which the UN High Commission for Refugees says has “liberal” asylum laws, have had well-documented issues with xenophobic attacks on fellow black Africans.
So integrating a whole bunch of African Americans would be seriously problematic, to say the least. The returnees would find themselves competing for scarce jobs, accommodation, food, comparably poorer utilities, health and education facilities with people whose languages they don’t speak or whose cultures they don’t understand.
Back in 1997, Keith B Richburg, a black American journalist wrote a book about his time in Africa as a foreign correspondent in the mid-1990s. The continent was witnessing democracy come to South Africa, genocide destroy Rwanda, floods, droughts, wars and other disasters both manmade and natural.
At the time, many African people were upset with Richburg. As a review in the respected journal, Foreign Affairs, put it:
“Richburg ardently believes that black Americans should struggle to assimilate into the national mainstream rather than seek refuge in a ghettoised, Afrocentric identity. He uses this memoir from his three years as an African correspondent to debunk the idea of Africa as a glorious motherland. Instead, he maintains, black Americans should be thankful their ancestors escaped this chaotic, violent, and ‘strange’ continent.”
I seriously doubt things have changed that much since those days, but anything’s possible i suppose.