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Date Published: 05/10/10

DIASPORA AFRICANS CHANGE TO OPPRESSORS’ VIEW AT HOME By Farouk Martins Aresa  

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We may have always had some form of classes in African history but nothing compared to the class of have and have-no today.  It is so pronounced that we can not deny some foreign and bourgeoisie assimilations. We may have replaced chief- subject relationship with that of lord-serf. Even slaves captured during inter-ethnic wars enjoyed some form of freedom and can aspire to chief in Yoruba land. In other words treatment of our poor, outcasts or even criminals was not as harsh as in prisons, for easier rehabilitation. 

Nobody becomes oppressor out of dire necessity but to take advantage of unearned privilege positions. Some folks were so oppressed growing up, they could not wait to do it to someone else. They may even get some joy and kicks out of it especially if they never dreamed of being in that exalted position. We should always remember that no position is permanent and those we kick on our way up may tramp us on our way down. 

Suddenly many of those matching around Europe and America shouting “I’m Black and Proud” find themselves in a life of contradiction when they get back home to the various countries in Africa. Nobody notices it more than their wives. It does not mean that the wives do not tag along with the new found high class status compared to what they left behind in Diaspora. For dwindling prosperous benefits to keep on rolling, we mimic many colleagues that are the products of Africa’s oldest universities as oppressors. 

We are so pampered in Africa only African wives can understand. Some foreign wives failing to soak up the exalted men status pack up and leave. So are some Africa wives staying back in Diaspora claiming they want to stay with the children while still in school for better education. Oh well, children without parents usually stay with foster parents most of whom do it for money. They are only tolerated and sometimes abused, only to become oppressors at home. It always amazes many of us where our colleagues on the same salaries like us get the foreign exchange to send their children to this foster care. 

It is true that the day of - when I was in London - has become a passé. Equally damaging though, is the mentality of the yahoo boys or fast car racers in Nigeria. They think if all the people they know are doing well, there are no more poor people in their country. The American TV magazine, 60 Minutes once featured the son of the President of oil rich Equatorial Guinea shopping like crazy in France. The kids are worse oppressors than their parents. Tap into their gadgets or internet for their justification on the privileges.  

Of course many of our kids are brilliant enough to secure scholarships, grants and are entitled to loans. Home coming may divide some families that don’t want to submit to the almighty power bestowed on men in Africa as other men enjoy in their respective continents. Though while in Africa, some of the kids virtually grow up on foreign culture. 

One of the touching moments we witness was during a high school graduation. This Nigerian girl got accepted in three top universities in the USA with full scholarships. But there was no parent at the ceremony to share her joy with. One of the parents had to invite her home. Somehow children that struggle out of Africa on their own usually do better than the pampered children of the rich and famous. They are more focus, worry about making grades and working at the same time with little time left for idle activities. 

For those men and women insisting on coming home, it has become more expensive than ever. Apart from the lack of abundant job market factor, we miss those that used to come with housing, cars and helps. Some private companies still provide all these but it is difficult to get a government job these days, unless you want to be a politician. Even without all these, for the African man or women there is no place like home.  

Most of the Africans that hardly go home fear the expense of comfort and cannot generate the money locally. Indeed a friend said the lowest point in his life begins as soon as he arrives at the airport in Diaspora looking for taxi or bus home to spend the next 6 months making money to take back. He makes sure his wife and children are well provided for, with good schools for the children and the best he can afford in Africa.  

As long as you have continuous flow of money to maintain half the lifestyle enjoyed overseas, your family is set and Africa is it. Others split life into two by spending most of their time in Africa and the rest in Diaspora. There are some friends where either the husband or the wife does the shuttle back and forth while the rest of the family stays in Africa. It cannot be the reason they turn into oppressors at home. 

However, our class and behavior in Africa towards the poor people ranges from humble to sheer arrogance. The humble ones complain that they are being taken advantage of many times when they are classless by people who think they have lost touch and can be easily taken for a ride. Others, still humble live a very low key life for fear of drawing unnecessary attention to themselves. In Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe and a few other places, you prevent being victimized by criminals if you keep a low profile.   

These are the people that strive to lay good example and in most cases dedicated to how they can help move the country forward. The women participate in community activities and contribute their training and experience at work to schools, after-school programs and social activities. It may or may not lead them into politics. But once the men join politics, they may be lost to chicanery in order to outdo their opponents. 

The other ones are the arrogant and selfish Africans from Diaspora that think the world of themselves and copy the same type of people they protest against while in Diaspora. Their loyalty is to their pocket and self interest of their families.  The bulk of money they make is never spent in Africa. Their expensive toys like cameras, i-phones, computers, cars, travels etc made outside their individual countries consume most of their income.

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