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Historicising the Nigerian Diaspora: Nigerian Migrants and Homeland Relations | Article Review

Authors: Sola Akinrinade and Olukoya Ogen

Publication: Turkish Journal of Politics

Published: Winter 2011

In "Historicising the Nigerian Diaspora: Nigerian Migrants and Homeland Relations" authors Sola Akinrinade and Olukoya Ogen shed light on the Nigerian diaspora in its historical context. They make a case for a more nuanced study of diasporas, arguing that the unique socio-cultural and political complexities of each homeland, like Nigeria, deserve individual focus.

The authors illustrate the Nigerian diaspora as reflecting Nigeria's diverse ethnic and cultural fabric. They also refute common perceptions linking migration primarily to poverty and inequality. Instead, they argue that factors such as improved income, education, and access to information could inspire migration aspirations. They suggest that progress in living standards and reductions in violence could even lead to more migration, challenging the prevalent poverty-driven migration narratives.

Akinrinade and Ogen go on to discuss the influence of remittances on development, stating that their impact largely depends on their utilization in the homeland. They track the evolution of the Nigerian diaspora from the pre-colonial era through to the post-independence mass exodus for education and better opportunities. They highlight the challenges in quantifying the Nigerian diaspora due to poor record-keeping and the presence of undocumented Nigerian migrants.

The authors move on to explore the variety of formal and informal groups that the Nigerian diaspora forms based on factors like faith, occupation, and ethnicity. They discuss the pivotal role of information and communication technologies, particularly the internet, in shaping the diaspora. The article concludes with an analysis of the roles of migrant associations in aiding migration and integration, and supporting new migrants in host countries.

In another segment, the article analyses the effects of international migration on African development. It stresses the positive influence of diasporas on their homelands, often through support for local businesses, infrastructural improvement, promotion of trade, and upholding of democratic principles.

The authors emphasize the crucial role of remittances in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Nigeria. They argue that while remittances contribute significantly to food security, education, health services, and investments, there can be significant underreporting due to data collection deficiencies and the prevalence of informal transfer mechanisms.

In the final part of the article, the authors examine Nigeria's efforts to engage with its diaspora through the establishment of the Nigerian National Volunteer Services (NNVS), aimed at fostering economic growth and development through a 'brain gain' strategy. They discuss the impact of remittances and the importance of their allocation for the country's development, and conclude with a discussion on the necessity for internal structural reforms, alongside appreciating the diaspora's contribution.

In sum, this research piece provides an insightful exploration of the Nigerian diaspora, its historical context, causes, effects, and the role of various entities in shaping the experiences of Nigerians abroad. It offers a valuable contribution to the literature on diaspora studies, inviting readers to consider the study of diasporas with an appreciation for specificity and nuances.


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