Individuals of African descent are eagerly returning to the continent to enjoy, in some sense, a better life than they have had or may ever have in the Diaspora. There is even a movement among sub-populations who on paper, may be considered far removed from the continent, but whose hearts yearn for their ancestral homeland. However, certain fears about returning persist. In an effort to understand them, we randomly surveyed a hundred individuals in the United States, all of whom are perceived to be of African descent to the general public. We list the top anonymous responses to the question If you had to go back to Africa for some reason, what would you be most concerned about?
The usual fear of diseases, poverty and wars “After reading the book Left to Tell that describes life in Rwanda during the Holocaust, I couldn’t get the images out of my mind for a long time”, said one African-American from the state of Louisiana in the United States. An overwhelming number of individuals reported a fear of diseases due to the heightened coverage around the recent Ebola outbreak. Upon further probing, few were asked if they would still go to other parts of the continent, knowing that the outbreak was limited to Western Africa. “No, I really wouldn’t go at all; if it is not Ebola, it will be something else”.
Being out of touch Individuals of immediate African descent expressed their concerns over being out of touch with what is going on in their home countries. “There is a certain level of grustle (grind + hustle) that has to be maintained in order to make things happen for yourself back home…i’m pretty sure I’ve lost it” responded one individual who is originally from Nigeria. Others feared that they had gotten so used to life in their adopted country, that it would be hard to face some of the realities back home. “Things are definitely not perfect in the U.S., but the things I personally need work for me” a lady, originally from Ghana stated.
Limited societal amenities Many noted concerns over safety & security, healthcare services and the lack of a highly organized legal system. “The inability to sue or seek legal justice, particularly if you are discriminated against, fired without cause, sexually harassed or injured at work is still a problem”.
A fear of feeling out of place “The world has placed us in a position where [we] as blacks think that we are all not the same”, reported a lady in her early sixties from the state of Ohio in the United States. “Whenever I encounter someone from Africa and try to interact with them, I am made to feel that I am inferior in some way – imagine being dropped right in the thick of Africa, will I feel at home”?
It is not even an option For many, returning to the continent for whatever reason is not a thought. A little over a third of all surveyed, while black, did not consider themselves African in any way.
The opportunities that exist to re-brand the continent are endless, as well as those to re-introduce the continent to the world. For every fear is a success story waiting to be told, each proving that it is possible to fully integrate into life on the continent.