Skip to content

You know, it’s getting harder and harder to just stay here—no matter what. These are indeed trying times when we need to reconsider our options and choices. We can leave. No matter what they tell us, we do not have to stay here.

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child

A long way from home, a long, long way from home

Sometimes I feel like I’m almost done

Sometimes I feel like I’m almost done

Sometimes I feel like I’m almost done

I’m a long way from home, a long, long way from home

—Negro Spiritual

The Transatlantic Slave Trade, under whatever name (and the Arab Trade before that) wrestled away the trunk, limbs and branches of the African roots of millions of captured and enslaved beings. The words of the song above pay homage to that separation. And more than that, the song, when sung in a Black American church or other social gathering, always included a set of plaintive notes that rumbled deep inside all the Black folk in the audience, differently, yes, but also inclusively. That was and is the roots still calling.

Though there were many differences in the experiences and cultural milieus of Black Americans both during and after ante-bellum slavery, the presence of longing for a better, if vaguely remembered, place, has been a virtually universal Black presence.

I’m talking about repatriation here, and it is defined as both the idea and the activity of African descendent people “returning’ to Africa to live, not merely to visit. The return must be voluntary, not forced. Otherwise, it is not repatriation but Black renunciation, also known as forced removal or forced colonization.

Repatriation is often confused with the term Pan Africanism. There should be no such miscomprehension. Pan Africanism is the idea and activity of reestablishing Africa as a decolonized, governmentally and economically sovereign and modern set of either independent African states, or, most preferably, a “United States of Africa.” Repatriation can be achieved without Pan Africanism, but there can be no real Pan Africanism without substantial repatriation.

There are several very viable programs in the United States, and in other countries with identifiable African descendant populations, that seek a standardized set of “Rights of Return” policies that are connected to repatriation efforts. These programs, including one advocated by the Marcus Garvey group, the U.N.I.A.-A.C.L RC2020 (Universal Negro Improvement Association-African Communities League, Rehabilitating Committee 2020), are trying to get agreement among several African countries to establish regular government policies that will allow easier African returnee access to citizenship and lengthy sojourns in African countries without African descendants having to leave African countries every three months and apply for re-entry in order to come back.

Instead, these programs want the kind of process now allowed in Ghana for African descendant visitors to apply for Ghanaian citizenship within a few months of living in the country and to retain the American, French, German or whatever other citizenship they already have. This is access to a dual-citizenship program, which currently seems to be the choice of most African diasporans. They want to keep the rights and access they already have in other countries while gaining citizenship rights in Ghana (and other African countries if they can get agreement on generalizing the process).

Without a doubt, having some sort of viable alternative like this is something African-Americans and other diasporans need right now. Having only one alternative — to stay here and deal with an increasingly weaponized group of White racists who can quite possibly take over the government of this country in a few years — is not really a viable option or one for which we should settle.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

DISCLAIMER: The beliefs and viewpoints expressed in opinion pieces, letters to the editor, by columnists and/or contributing writers are not necessarily those of OurWeekly.