The African continent is made up of African indigenes who although have different cultures are united with their similarities like food, clothes, music and most importantly, slave trade and colonization.
Over the year, indigenes have been displaced due to migration, the slave trade, and brain drain, however, in a bid to keep all persons of African descent united, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) named the communities of Black Africans in various European and American countries the diaspora and named it the sixth region of Africa leaving Africa to comprise of the east, the west, the north, the south, central Africa and now, the diaspora.
The sixth region, the diaspora, was established in 2003 to promote participation among Africans with roots outside of the continent. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which has 15 members, is the region with the most nations.
The diaspora makes up about 170 million people who are not of African descent but just about anyone who is willing to push the African cause and help build the African Union.
Every day, we hear the phrase ‘those in the diaspora’ and when George Floyd died, a funeral was even held in his honor as a result of ties with the diaspora, but as to who makes up the diaspora and where exactly they are located no one really knows.
The over 170 million people in the diaspora are spread across different continents; Europe, North America, Asia, but they are predominant in Europe and North America.
Over the years, the diaspora has ceased to just exist by staying outside of Africa. Persons of the diaspora troop in and out of Africa on a daily basis. What started as a journey every now and then and during occasions and festivities has now turned into people coming to Africa and staying months unending.
While they are recognized and seen as the diaspora and join the continent in celebrating it is important to know their culture and how to identify them.
Culture of the diaspora
Communities have spread over the globe, either as a result of forced migration or for other historical reasons, leading to the emergence of diaspora cultures. Diaspora communities symbolize and uphold a culture distinct from that of the nations in which they live, frequently maintaining close relationships with their actual or imagined country of origin, their own culture, and other groups of a similar origin in order to keep that culture alive. This is primarily a cultural phenomenon and is not always connected to migration.
People of the African diaspora have an array of things they connect with that have now become their culture. When it comes to food, music and even clothing, you can easily identify them by the streaks of African pieces you see them wear, their excitement when afro beat and afro beats are played and the sheer excitement they feel when talk of African food comes to play.
People in the diaspora can be seen adorning themselves in African-inspired and designed jewelry, attires like the popular Dashiki or the now very common Ankara design.
It is also culture for them to speak passionately about Africa and they are quick to dispel ignorant notions about Africa being home to ‘monkeys’ and people leaving on trees and not houses.
Another predominant culture among the African diaspora is the spiritual connection they practice with ancestors. Often times they could be heard saying something along the lines of ‘I just want to connect with my ancestors’ or ‘that’s how I connect with my ancestors.’ They own who they are so much that they yearn to have a semblance of connection with their ancestors, which explains their visits to historical sites in Africa.
The Year of Return and the diaspora
In 2019, the President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo launched the year of return initiative in line with the mark of 400 years since slavery. He encouraged and called on all black people outside of Africa to take a journey back home and visit the sites where colonization and slavery took place and also learn about the culture and life of the African people.
The initiative saw a lot of people from the diaspora troop in including the likes of Boris Cudjoe, Michael Blankson, Steve Harvey, Idris Elba and so many more.
Eventually, beyond the return, people from the diaspora now yearn to make the trip down to Ghana and other parts of Africa to connect with their ancestors and learn more about the history of their ancestors.
While the world knows about Africa and what the people are about, because of the ‘scattered’ nature of people in the diaspora their cultures are most often not regarded as one, but all the things listed above are ways to identify a person who pushes the African agenda and is a supporter of the African Union.
The sixth region of Africa continues to be the fastest growing region of Africa and its people, the most exciting and those who are just eager to make a trip back home and learn a thing or two.
Many of them who returned for tourism and the sheer excitement of getting to know more about Africa have continued to stay on and have found themselves migrating back home.
Whether or not they fully partake in indigenous African culture or not, just like any other region in Africa their culture is distinct, and rightly so.