Comparing Diasporas: Asians, Jews, Irish and Nigerians

by Paul I. Adujie

Why Do Diasporas Exist?

How Are Diasporas Beneficial to Homelands?

How Fare Nigeria, Compared with/to other Homelands?

What Can Diaspora Nigerians Learn from other “matured” Diasporas?

As you read the article below, I recommend that you ponder these questions above.

Asserting that there are similarities in existential Diasporas is beyond dispute. Asian Diasporas, as in Chinese, Indians and Vietnamese, etc, are a very vibrant lot! They have positively impacted China, India and Vietnam for several years, and in particular, in the preceding ten years. Their European equivalent is, the positive impact that the Irish Diaspora has brought to bear on Ireland. There is an economic renaissance, economic revival and rebirth in Ireland, which is being spearheaded by Diaspora Irish. How about that!

The positive impact that Diaspora Jews have bestowed on Israel, is spectacularly unique and exquisite in quality, quantity and most outstanding, by every measure or parameters. Israel’s creation, support, funding, aid and vigorous lobby attest to all these. There is an American joke, which says that every America politician is “Jewish” and this is because, any American politician worth his salt, and who knows what is good for her or him, identifies with the hopes and aspirations of Israel, as articulated by American Jews! I want to live to see the day, when that same joke will apply to Diaspora Nigerians! I just love it!

As to my first question above, I believe that Diasporas exist due to multiple variables in the home countries or homelands of those, who form the Diaspora of various countries and societies. There are refugees who are either political or economic. These sorts of Diasporas are usually those who flee political upheaval and instabilities, economic depression and political crises or an admixture of both.

There are, those who left their homelands in search of greener pastures or the golden fleeces and advance skills and education, with an eye to return, but, some eventually staying put, and becoming a Diaspora community of the old country/homeland.

The early Irish immigrants in America are known to have famously fled Ireland, to escape the potato famine of more than 100 years ago.

Some immigrants, such as the Vietnamese, Liberians, Sierra Leoneans and Kosovars are known to have fled their country/homelands because of wars, and in the particular case of Kosovars, Afghans and now Iraqis, they fled war and religious persecution or religious/cultural discriminations or racial segregations etc. No person depart his homeland, because he or she is too happy and content with the live there in the homeland. The push to emigrate may vary, but, frequently, it is the absence of satisfaction of some sorts.

1. How Are Diasporas Beneficial to Homelands?

Asian Diasporas have been largely credited with the economic successes of China, India and Vietnam. These successes have been made possible because of economic repatriation, transfer of capital from the Diaspora to the homelands of China, India and Vietnam etc, through a deliberate policy by Diaspora Asians. Money transfers, is the only area, where Diaspora Nigerians are close to Diaspora Asians and Mexicans in Diaspora achievements

India’s Bangalore is the creation of Diaspora Indians and returnee Indians, and its technological marvels are often compared with its cousin or sister technology center in America known as Silicon Valley in California

2. How Fare Nigeria, Compared with/to other Homelands?

Diaspora Nigerians are mostly made up of economic refugees, new immigrants in America, Europe and Asia who are for the most parts, struggling with initial efforts to mix-in and integrate themselves into newly adopted countries and foreign lands of permanent or temporary residencies. New immigrants, as most Nigerians are worldwide, usually focus first and primarily, on self-preservation and daily survivals. Obtaining legal residency, paying bills such as rents, food and taking care to tackle the other basics of life abroad. The lackluster attainments for Nigeria as a collective resource for our homeland, is perhaps attributable to this novelty and newness of the very idea of corralling ideation abroad by Diaspora Nigerians for the benefit our Nigeria, our homeland and country.

3. What Can Diaspora Nigerians learn from other “matured” Diasporas?

There is so much that Nigerians can garner and gather from experienced and “matured” Diasporas. I wrote an article sometime ago, about how the American Jewish Committee provided seminars and workshops for Nigeria in Diaspora Organization in North and South America, to introduce us the rudiments, the challenges and pitfalls and rewards of public spirited selfless service on behalf of homeland/country. The AJC informed NIDO members why Jews never have felt the necessity to choose between their new country and their homeland, Israel. AJC for example does not see the need to choose between being a good Jew and a good American, similarly, Nigerians resident in America or Canada should never seek to create a distinction between being a good American and a good Nigerian, and being a good Canadian and Nigerians respectively. Nigerians can similarly, learn from the Chinese, the Indians, the Vietnamese and the Irish Diasporas, as they have coalesce in formidable efforts to rebuild their homelands for the common good of those who live in those countries and as well for those Diasporas and their offspring that may desire return or become bi-continental in a globalize macro economy.

Recently, I wrote an article titled 100 CONCERNED NIGERIANS ABROAD? , and in it, I mentioned my wish-list of what I would have wished as the impact of Diaspora Nigerians on Nigeria. Somehow, those wish-list comments, were drowned out, because of the politically emotive nature of the bulk of that article. Hence the need now, to reopen discussing this wish-list of possible positive impacts Diaspora Nigerians can have on Nigerian homeland.

What exactly do we Diaspora Nigerians owe Nigeria?

African Scholarship Students Must go Home By Hakeem Babalola

What can Diaspora Nigerians do by way of lobbying American, European and Asian governments? Or lobbying and interfacing businesses and institutions on behalf of Nigeria? What must do now to benefit Nigeria? I strongly believe that there is a great deal that Diaspora Nigerians can do! We can for instance, establish Think Tanks, Investment Clubs, engage in clandestine activities, including, espionage and more!

I am relatively young and in excellent state of health, but, I want my true feelings about Nigeria to be known, to be recorded, while I still have my life, while I still have the time!

Nigerians cannot be reminded of these issues enough! We should always bear it in our minds, that it is our responsibility to create the developed, the advanced and great nation from the present day Nigeria. And I do know for a fact, that this is quite possible in our life time, as in right now!

Some Nigerians always seem to be waiting for the perfect time to act for Nigeria’s benefit.

I strongly believe that there is no better time than now to think, say/articulate and do, everything that we all should, actively, for Nigeria’s development, advancement and greatness. Nigerians must not keep passions for Nigeria on the shelf. We must act now!

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Cletus E. Olebunne May 28, 2007 - 5:21 pm

Paul, comment #3 came from me. I am responding to some of your questions because I think that people should disagree or argue in the context of what we want to see for the future.

There is no simple and single solution to Nigeria’s lack of united front, and I am not sure what I may say here is a cure all, but I will try. My consultative fee is $1,000,000, just kidding; the fee is united front, if you can deliver that.

Yes, the Irish language, Gaelic is often used in the Irish Diaspora, and the language is a precise indication of its constitutional status as the national language of the Irish or Celtic culture. As they say in Britain, one can be British but not necessarily an English person. David Trimble (Protestant) and Jerry Adams (Catholic) are both Irish “Christians” with different ideological beliefs of where Northern Ireland should belong for reasons best know to them (may be for selfish political reasons). Ireland in the last few years is becoming the technological hub of Europe, particularly the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. Why? Because, majority of pharmaceutical executives, CEOs of large corporations, and business school professors of Irish heritage/culture in the Diaspora (mostly in the US) made a conscious effort to industrialize Ireland.

That aside, you cited the U.S. as a model solution. Well, look at the U.S. in the early 20th century, with segregation, then you will see where Nigeria is today, may be not to the extent of separate infrastructures as was in the U.S. laws.

Lack of united front among present Nigerians I may say is a result of lack of enlightenment, education (not the four walls of a building), and the understanding of the strength in unity in diversity. This also is a result of lack of understanding in the rule of law based on “equal opportunity” in the pursuit of happiness.

Nigerians are facing generational ethnic divide, which will come to pass, may be not in our lifetime, when there is majority understanding that, no society is of like minded people but just a belief in unity in diversity, and experiment in diversity. The understanding that Nigeria is not a homogenous society will go a long way in building a new vision for the New Nigeria. We can’t succeed if we continue to operate as if we belong to a different club.

But you know what? This is the challenge for all Nigerians (home or abroad). We need a model to reconcile our differences and conflicts. If we are going to be faithful in our efforts to find unity in diversity, each Nigerian needs to be a leader to step forward and make his or her very best contribution because this is a new day for Nigeria (in democracy). As long as we are moving from one democratic administration to the next, with new ideas and solutions, we will get there (unity front). To this end, I humbly welcome the next Nigerian government administration.

Also, the economic undertone solution is the realization that we as Nigerians are living in the middle of crisis of hunger, unemployment, corruption, lack of healthcare system, lack of quality education, and lack of quality justice system. When all these are about sixty to eighty percent taken care of, most Nigerians will depend more on what they can entrepreneurially accomplish with themselves rather than the dependency on government allocations and contracts.

Finally, I do not think Nigeria experience parallel that of the U.S. the foundation of U.S was already in place, therefore, different culture groups know that to live happily in the U.S., they need to live according to the basic rule of laws and regulations in place. When I look at Nigeria, I see more of European Union, in terms of different cultures and languages, not nations’ independence. I was still living in London during the early days of EU, the Maastricht Conference. There was a EU vision and it is all now coming into place. What Nigeria had was independence in 1960 but no clear vision of the future of Nigeria; may be there was, and it got lost in the several coups and the civil war years. If there was, then we need to revisit that vision. Look at our past successes, take stock of what is going well and decide what needs to go forward. But the beginning is to celebrate what we have accomplished, and work for unity in diversity.

Cletus E. Olebunne, May 28, 2007

Paul I. Adujie May 24, 2007 - 9:55 pm

Question for commentator #3

Irish is the Language brought unity? Even as you allude to Irish religious divide?

Jews have religion to thank? And perhaps persecution?

What unites America? The most plural and most diverse of society… which is in many repect like Nigeria?

Please enlighten us, would you?

I am adamant that Nigerians MUST find what unite Nigerians! We are one… the benefits of Nigeria's unity outweighs whatever disadvantage that anyone can think up!

Most sincerely,

Paul I. Adujie

New York

Anonymous May 24, 2007 - 5:15 pm

Good comment by Ben in #2. the egbe omo yoruba, world igbo congress or the zumunta organizations are based on language and culture. This is the truth about Nigeria, and no quotes by Benjamin Franklin, Mahatma Gandhi, or Johann Friedrich Von Schiller will change that. These guys were from a different environment and those quotes were reflective of the time and their environments.

Best bet is for you Ben to come up with a better quote yourself that fits the Nigeria diverse environment as per culture and language.

Your reference to Ireland makes one wonder if you really understand Ireland. Though, the religious conflict has been in Ireland for a long time, the Irish language is a major uniting factor. For the Jews, it is their religion, and the fact that they were persecuted togther for a long time.

Ben May 23, 2007 - 6:49 am

We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)


Nice Article – a lucid, intelligent, well thought-out piece.

I particular take issue with the term “Diaspora Nigerian”. Sir, there is such a thing but how effective is it in the face of disunity?

The issue of a lack of united Nigerian voice is exactly the same lack of progress in the black community (world over) due to a lack of unity and collective input.

You mentioned the Irish, Jews, Vietnamese but it will be hard (don’t you think) to imagine a “Nigeria”?

Tell me if I am wrong does the majority of Hausas in New York mix with you? Do you not have a world Igbo congress championing the issues of the Igbo of the federal republic of Nigeria? I doubt if the Jew or Irish will have such influence and impact on the American stage if they were say, “Gypsy Irish”, Northern “Irish militia” and South Dublin Diasporas.

Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

Let us go back to the drawing board Sir, we don’t have a Diaspora to work with just yet, there are pieces and segments that cannot function effectively until they are joined together in a powerful union….Then we can join the rest and take our place in Diaspora politics

Even the weak become strong when they are united.

Johann Friedrich Von Schiller (1759-1805)

Anonymous May 22, 2007 - 7:54 pm

Love this article! Well done! Instead of dwelling on the negatives you are looking at 'what you can do for your country'. I once spoke to an African-American man I met in Lagos who came to Nigeria during FESTAC '77 and never went back to the U.S. I asked him how he could give up the Land of the Beautiful and Free for Nigeria and do you know what he said? He said (and I'll never forget this) 'No one will fix your country for you. Only you can fix it. We African-Americans had to fight, march and even die to enjoy our piece of the American Dream. It wasnt given to us on a platter of gold even though we were born there. So you Nigerians have to do the same to see the Nigeria of your dream". I left his presence a very humbled Nigerian.


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