#SUNBURST: Africa’s diaspora in a New World!

200 out of 630 Afcon 2023 players were born outside Africa.. Are the diasporans key to Africa’s Revival?

Just about a decade ago, a player of African descent had a battle with his father over the name that should be on his jersey. The player insisted that being born in Europe automatically makes him an European, and therefore must disconnect from everything African including his father’s African surname. But all his father wanted was that honour of seeing his surname prominent on his son’s jersey.

In this years Africa Cup Of Nation’s AFCON, a third of the participating players were born outside African continent. The huge success the tournament has recorded is partly attributed to the quality, culture and the personalities of the diaspora players.

Players of African descent are not just amassing interest in their origin and culture but have established fierce hunger to relate with and even represent in competitions their distant cousins living in Africa.

This desire to connect with their roots has also transcended beyond sports, and into other areas like entertainment, education and economic development.


According to President of Africa Development Bank Group: Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, $96 billion was remitted to Africa by Africans in diaspora in 2021 alone, significant growth from $37 billion recorded in 2010, making them Africa’s largest financiers.

Some countries on the continent are re-purposing their pre colonial history to feed new enthusiasm and drive tourism. Ghana makes almost $1 billion annually on slave heritage tourism that has seen influx of blacks around the world especially African Americans.


Of course, hypothesis and theories constantly fly around on the reasons behind what I refere to as rise in Neo-Pan Africanism. Personally, I think it boils down to three major causes:

First, the rise of the internet and social media shattered barriers and made information more accessible. Interests can easily be fed.

Secondly, new wave of mass migration has displaced a huge population of Africans across the world as migrants, whom also migrated with their culture making it easier for old generation diaspora population to reconnect with the contemporary Africa.

Lastly, deciphering people’s ancestral ties through DNA tests has become very popular recently. The more people know of their origin the higher their interest to relate with their ancestral culture and lineage.


On the other hand, not everyone views diaspora’s infusement with such excitement. There are talks of unpatriotism, erosion and demotivation of home grown talents, engendering culture of quick success and complacency at the expense of strong, sustainable foundation.

These are valid points but not enough not to integrate one’s kith and kin sparsely dispersed but willing to return to the only ancestral home they know of. Africans in diaspora, however must eschew mercenary mindset and totally immerse in the culture and love of their real continent. They must become real stake holders in the Africa’s project by being integral to institutional development and education of the people. He or she must be an African at heart.

May Lights Shine On Our Paths.

(#SUNBURST is random thoughts of EoR published every Saturday)


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Feb 10 - 16 2024


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