The Wide Divide
It was our sad misfortune to be visited by the Washington Post a few years back, during which time some repatriates were interviewed by a typical journalist, who listened closely for the snip bits and all the little sparks that he might fan into a fire. Amongst the hardships mentioned was the existing divide between Africans born on the continent and those born in the Diaspora. The article had a wicked backlash, with repatriates recanting their words and local Ghanaians taking offense and getting quite defensive.
We tend to think of Africans as tribalistic, and though it is true, it is not a unique trait. All over the world we are witnessing massive tribal division within all walks of nationalities, religions or cultures. Tribalism can be considered a human trait, apparent as early as when Cain killed Abel. In as much as we all come from the same mother, we all bring our unique experiences/bones to the soup. So to the question 'is there stress between the Diasporas and the indigenous Africans?' YES, shit yes! Undeniably, however it will not serve as an obstacle in the reunification of Africa only a challenge to be dealt with directly and honestly, then pushed aside as we deal with the real enemy that posses a threat to the work at hand.
The biggest and most prominent of issue for Diasporas returning home, is this air of rejection. Upon arrival every flattery is given and every courtesy offered to ensure you enjoy your visit. That hospitality lasts about as long as your visa and then a new sense of reality seeps in. Contrary to the open-door policy, there are no programs to assist the various groups of repatriates (families, elderly, single mothers, etc.) in their transition, no government recognition. In line with this neglect, there has been institutionalized denial of who we are and why we are. From elementary to high school there exist virtually no courses required or offered detailing the vast impact of slavery on African peoples of the world. With the masses ignorant of historical facts, very little overstanding is afforded Diasporas, instead repatriates are met with insolence and disdain when demanding our basic rights as Africans who were horrifically exported and are now returning through the doors of 'No Return'.
On the other hand, those born on the continent lament bitterly about the imposition of western ideals (isms and skisms) being perpetuated by black faces. An experiment was carried out where those held in slavery were returned to Africa and sent to Liberia in the 60's. After convincing the African of his inferiority then placing him back into his 'inferior' homeland, with the 'blessing' of some 'superior' blood, they watched as we established rule, with their support (financing) in the same fashion as their hierarchal order, placing them as god, we as their intermediaries and the natives as everyone's subjects. What resulted was bloody war. Today, although repatriates coming to Africa are doing so of their own free will and most are not clones working for the beast, many still bring along their 'bones'. Well imbedded are the doctrines of slavery, capitalism, imperialism and democracy, for god's-sake. All to often, when the oppressed get a chance to sit at the table of the oppressors they forget the taste of their old meal, as has been the case with many African leaders and is becoming the practice of many incoming Africans born in the Diaspora. Though Africans born in Africa have suffered endlessly at the hands of countless invaders, be it European, Asian, Muslim or Christian, there seems an absolute resistance against being maltreated by their own kith and kin. I believe some of the refusal to accommodate repatriates has a great deal to do with protecting the rights of the indigenous African, against an African from the Diaspora, who, if not purged of poisons inflicted by their captor, will only impose greater hardships on their hosts, our brothers and sisters.
But that is just the first sip. Who could have imagined the numerous ways our different experiences would set us apart? How mores would evolve and dissolve, how religions would erupt and disrupt and how time would erase all memory of our most common denominators such as language, tradition and custom. Those of us on the ground have all met with the more common parasite that finds opportunity in need, but with time we also encounter true brethren and sistren with whom we embark upon relationships of all kinds. It is usually within these relationships that we find our greatest challenges. A worker is relegated to the status of worker, with which there are basic expectations, but with a friend, one endeavors to share and experience life with the added strength of a companion. Though you may embark upon business ventures together, you take a sincere interest in the family of that person and he or she in yours. It is during the inevitable obstacle courses that all relationships pass, that the presence of a gap in thinking, stemming from core differences in logic, reasoning and up-bringing become obvious. When effort isn't made to bridge the gap, the divide is widened and lines are drawn, with ones retreating, each to their own 'tribe.'
If you know anything about our plight as Africans, you are aware that the slightest of our differences have been capitalized upon to give greater strong-holds for the real enemy. When we are too busy fighting amongst ourselves, we neglect to rally our forces in unison, rather we divide, clan from clan, village from village, parting the sea for our oppressors to triumphantly march in and consume the spoils on both sides. Repatriation is still in its early stages and so the hitches are to be expected and not to serve as discouragements. However, there are things we can do immediately and individually, that will turn this division around. Mainly, those of us Africans coming from the Diaspora must submit to the humbling process of reintegration with the land and the people. Put away old notions and accept every lesson as a babe would breast milk. While Africans at home must prepare to strengthen those coming, employing their resources for more than today's chop (meal). They must also recognize that the restoration of Africa to her glory will not happen independent of all of her children. Repatriation is a mandate of the Most High, not to be taken lightly. Bandwagoners will lose their footing and distracters will be discarded, it was written, so shall it be.