Understanding the African Diaspora
Defining the African Diaspora
African diaspora is a new term that many people do not know about. It is not used frequently in human speech and writing.
Transatlantic Slave Trade: Historical Origins
The term refers specifically to the large dispersion of Africans during the transatlantic slave trade from 1500 to 1800. In this diaspora, millions of people from West and Central Africa were forcibly displaced and adopted different cultures.
The Meaning of “Diaspora”
The word Diaspora comes from Greek. The term is also used in the academic world to refer to new immigrants from Africa.
African Union’s Definition
The African Union defines the African diaspora as “a person, regardless of race or nationality, who is indigenous or of partial African descent outside African countries, who is willing to contribute to the development of African countries and the construction of the African Union.”
Historical Migration Patterns
People of African descent have been dispersed throughout history. Between 1965 and 2021, approximately 440,000 people migrated from Africa each year. In 2005, it was estimated that there were as many as 17 million homeless people in Africa.
Implications of Migration
The figure of 440,000 African homeless people per year pales in comparison to annual population growth of approximately 2.6%. This suggests that approximately 2% of Africa’s population growth is paid for through transfers.
Diversity of African Diaspora
Slave trade in Africa also exists in many parts of the world. Immigrants from different religions created different cultures, food combinations, and lifestyles.
Arab and Atlantic Slave Trade
At the beginning of the 8th century, Arabs plundered African slaves in the central and eastern parts of the African country, dispersing millions of Africans throughout the Americas and the Caribbean.
The Scale of the Atlantic Slave Trade
The largest forced migration in history involved approximately 11 million Africans dispersed through the Atlantic slave trade in West Africa. From the 15th to the 19th centuries, the slave trade extended to the Americas, Brazil, and Haiti, with an estimated 10 to 80 million slaves coming from the Arab slave trade.
Neglect of African History
African history did not begin with slavery, and Africa’s contribution to the development of various fields of knowledge has been largely ignored.
The Diversity of African Cultures
Africa is home to many countries and cultures, each with their own unique history.
Black Identity and Migration
This diaspora is also a black identity. Black Africans migrated more because of their dark skin. White Americans moved them to different places.
Overcoming Limitations in Research
Research in the twenty-first century is trying to overcome the limitations of past studies. The historical African diaspora can be divided into four groups according to their distribution places: intra-Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, and Atlantic diaspora.
European Role in Slave Trade
Beginning in the 15th century, Europeans captured or purchased African slaves from West Africa; and brought them first to Europe and then to the Americas when European colonization began in the 15th century.
Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade
The Atlantic slave trade ended in the 19th century, representing the largest forced migration in human history and having a devastating economic impact on the affected communities.
Surviving Descendant Communities
Many communities of descendants of African slaves survive today in America, Europe, and Asia. In other cases, Africans intermarried with non-Africans and their descendants blended into the local population.
The Study of Diaspora in Africa
Diaspora in Africa is studied on its own. Apart from trade diasporas and slave diasporas, and the term diaspora is not often used.
Beyond Africa: The Global African Diaspora
Recent research shows that the African diaspora has a long history in Asia and that Africans have deep roots in Asia.
Diverse Roles of Africans in Asia
Africans in Asia went on to become merchants, sailors, soldiers, policemen, clergymen, guardians, sex workers, servants, and slaves.
Forced and Free Migration in the Indian Ocean Diaspora
Unlike the original Atlantic diaspora, the Indian Ocean diaspora consists of both forced and free migrants. In India, for example, a number of African diasporic rulers and dynasties were established in the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries.