Africans on the Move: Transnational, Intranational, and Metaphorical Migrations
Unfortunately, the displaced women do not see the invisible hand of the World Bank in providing advice, technical know how and financial assistance that may exacerbate natural disasters such as drought and consequent famine. They do not see the extent to which unsustainable national debt may make the state unable to exercise any meaningful autonomy in the determination of policy. They also experience the government of the United States as a magnanimous aid-giver rather than a manipulative super power that may give or withhold aid according to whether or not its national interests are served. Instead, based on their material interests, both the World Bank and US government are compassionate while the government of their country is harsh, authoritarian, and lacking in compassion. This observation is not meant to dismiss the women’s understanding and explication of their situation, but to point out that this, as with other perspectives, is limited by lack of information, and structured by material interests.
Jalani A. Niaah focuses upon the development of the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica which for him, developed a philosophy based on asserting their identity as Ethiopians and Africans who were torn away from home, but are engaged in a struggle to return home. Marcus Garvey’s Back to Africa Movement and similar organizations believe in the principle of repatriation, with the starting point being the granting of Shashamanie, often conceived as the promised land, to Ethiopia’s supporters during the war against Italy from 1935 to 1941. For Niaah, there is a multiplicity of philosophical, physical and spiritual meanings associated with the notion of going Back to Africa that ultimately imply a subscription to the ideology that Africa’s children must return to the way of the father.
The Rastafarian movement embodies the commitment to the philosophical, physical, and spiritual ideologies of repatriation. Haile Selassie is taken to be a father figure to whom Africa’s scattered, orphan children could look for leadership, spiritual guidance, and refuge as an alternative to morally bankrupt colonial and post colonial political elites and the oppressive discrimination of the Christian churches. Returning to the Way of the Father as conceived by Niaah is derived from the thought of folk philosophers for whom the re-connection with the missing black Ethiopian father would heal many of the wounds inflicted by captivity, enslavement, and colonization. The father is also an elder, a teacher who in Rastafarian cosmology, takes on the responsibility of preaching the message of liberation to oppressed, illiterate orphaned children of Africa.
For Rastafarians, Africa is home, and Ethiopia the center. Repatriation is conceived as a re-connection, a re-establishment of ties with the family, and commitment to the idea that Haile Selassie is the divine leader. These ideas are taught to followers who have been mis- educated to engender their transformation through critical thinking, awakened creativity, commitment to activism, and to the dissemination of knowledge. The message of the
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