Does Africa Want Us Back?


(The Root) — The theme of this week's Leon H. Sullivan Summit in Equatorial Guinea is "Africa Rising," but the conversation about improvement, innovation and growth isn't limited by any means to the continent. It extends to people of African descent throughout the world, a Diaspora that the African Union in 2005 deemed "Africa's sixth region." 


And some want the inhabitants of that "region" — black people in the United States, the Caribbean and wherever else they may live — to be able to live and work in African countries with all the rights and privileges of those who were born there.

The issue of creating a continent-wide platform of dual citizenship infused conversations throughout the conference, with Wednesday's "The Return of the Diaspora" plenary session bringing government, academia and business leaders together to discuss this proposition, in addition to "where the greatest synergies between Africa and the Diaspora have been shared."

For Khamis Suedi Kagasheki, Tanzania's minister of natural resources and tourism, who explained that dual-citizenship legislation is "held up in parliament" in his country, it can't pass soon enough. Although he predicts that a law of permanent residency will precede it, Kagesheki already has his eye especially on African Americans — not just as vacationers, but as citizen investors in a growing tourism industry. Why? Because of our enormous (in global terms) wealth.

"I remember reading something whereby the African-Americans in the United States, if they were constituted as a country, could be almost the 16th largest economy in the world. I think that means quite a lot as far as what is available within the hands and the powers of the African Americans and what could be done in Tanzania if they could operate here as citizens," he told The Root.

Kagesheki, who also talked at length about development and opportunities for entrepreneurship in Tanzania, has his pitch to African Americans ready, when and if a policy of dual citizenship is implemented in his country. "At the end of the day, I think we spring from the same root," he said. "We are looking forward to a day when this could bring forth something meaningful. I tend to believe the world of tomorrow is very much in Africa … I think the time has come."

Jenée Desmond-Harris is The Root's staff writer. Follow her on Twitter.