Africans on the Move: Transnational, Intranational, and Metaphorical Migrations
of their conscious and deliberate desire and struggle for economic and social power, but inadvertently, they reinforce old and new structures of class, race, and gender domination. For Adéyanjú, Nigerian- Yorùbá transmigrants’ actions materialize from the attempts by dominant elites within this community to maintain their social positions and ethnic identity, thus ensuring that class and gender inequalities within the transnational community remain largely static, while at one and the same time, the Toronto, and by implication, Canada, remain geographical spaces where white dominance is accepted as a foregone conclusion.
Adéyanjú like Takougang, shows that in the contemporary period, economic and political crises spur migration from the African continent to North America. Although the combined effects of restrictive and ethnocentric immigration laws and the perception among Yorùbá that they owed a duty to their home country of participating in nation- building ensured that most Yorùbá in Canada prior to the mid-1980s were students who wanted to go back home once their studies were completed, many of these same students returned with their children when the Nigerian economic crisis intensified. Thus, global capitalism created high incentives to flee economic marginalization in Nigeria while Canadian political, social and economic relations ensured that settlement there would be at the cost of being incorporated as part of an excluded visible minority.
Adéyanjú’s respondents experience racism at both the systemic and subliminal levels. Racism is encountered both institutionally, and as part of individual casual encounters, thus signaling rejection, and spurring the desire to withdraw into an ethnic enclave which avoids both the opposition and antagonism of the dominant whites. Consequently, the Yorùbá trans-migrants may not feel psychologically obliged to grant Canada their full loyalty. Contemporary migration cannot be divorced from the effects of global capitalist forces such as the penetration of post-colonies by trans-national capital. Migration to the industrialized countries of the Northern hemisphere is just one of the consequences. Indigenous and migrant labor suffer the consequences of the re-location of industries to lower wage, lower cost locales. Yet, migration is unrelenting because the alternative to migration is to accept long term, almost perpetual unemployment as the norm. Unfortunately for migrant Yorùbá and other African labor, racial prejudice and xenophobia further complicates the struggle for gainful employment. For Adéyanjú, this means that these migrants will have great incentive to build “a transnational community with requisite practices.” Several community-based organizations develop that valorize the culture of the migrants. Leadership opportunities that may not have been accessible in the home country, and contact with political elites that are consequent upon the creation of such opportunities open up, and are milked to the maximum extent possible by the migrants. Social, economic, and political power devolves to the leaders of such community organizations, with each form of power being parlayed into building influence in other domains. Transnational economic and social projects can thereby be
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