Africans on the Move: Transnational, Intranational, and Metaphorical Migrations
generated that not only enables migrant community associations to build cross-national relationships, but also reinforce the power of transnational elites on the political, social and economic planes. Some of this power is deployed toward the funding of community development and philanthropic projects both in the migrant community abroad and in the home community back home.
Adéyanjú gives various examples of philanthropy and community development derived from his study of Yorùbá transnational associations in Toronto. He also argues that ethnicity becomes more, rather than less entrenched among transnational Yorùbás whose leaders “seized on the Diasporic experiences of ordinary members of the community to construct a Yorùbá nation ‘socio-biologically’” and discursively, the notion of ‘Yorùbá nationhood’ emerges which makes common-sensical differentiation between the Yorùbá and ‘other peoples’. Adéyanjú suggests that ethnic particularism emerges which reproduces class and gender inequalities. He recommends that such particularism should be eschewed in favor of emancipatory politics which propels enlightened transnational practices that are based on mobilization on the basis of gender and class in a manner that transcends ethnicity and race. How possible is this? To the extent that transnationals face racial and ethnic hostility in their host countries, the tendency is that they will reflexively use defense mechanisms that reinforce tried and tested strategies for empowerment rather than explore optimal strategies for community building that would guarantee intra-group equality, equity, democracy and transparency. For the transnational aggregations to become democratic, those who are oppressed within the groups would have to mobilize and challenge the entrenched power structures. When this is attempted, those in power will use all possible measures to force them not to break ranks. Such measures may include banishment or excommunication or being ostracized from the group.
Saadia Izzeldin Malik’s paper, “Displacement as Discourse” considers the rural-urban migration that followed the 1983 and 1990 drought and famine in the Western Sudan, a process that caused the dis-location and re-location of affected populations who fled from the after-effects of drought and desertification in Darfur and Kordofan. She argues that the conventional portrayal of these migrants as “displaced” in scholarly literature forces them into one of two pigeonholes is wrong. These populations are either portrayed as negatively impacted by socio-economic forces that make them into urban food consumers whereas they were previously rural food producers or they are portrayed as just victims of natural disasters whose move to the urban areas is a quest for non- agricultural sources of sustenance. Instead, Malik argues that while rural migrant women in Greater Khartoum, in the Sudan are labeled in state and scholarly discourse as “displaced”, they have their own counter-discourse that both respond to and resist such characterization of their situations and identities.
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