I was not born with a “silver spoon in my mouth” and I am eternally grateful that the gods and my ancestors (Mwari, Kimpa Luh, Su ) did not chose that path for me. Because of my rural, village Yotti/Bali up bringing, I have bush knowledge.
Our day to day activities in the village were in of the themselves lessons on how to be self-sufficient. Granted life in rural space is not often glamours particularly in contemporary times when most of our resources are scarce because of natural disasters, governmental exploitation etc. The knowledge that I have sustains me as I pursuit my “formal” education abroad.
Contrary to what many Africans are fed with on mainstream media, living abroad is not easy. Many of us are simply trying to survive and you must have a strong backbone in order to be successful. If you are black/African things could be tougher for you compared to let say poor white Eastern Europeans that migrated to the US. In general you must have strength and wisdom to keep you going when things get difficult.
- Humility, this mostly applies to children of “wealthy” Africans in the diaspora who think they have “arrived”. It would be impossible for you to survive abroad, if you are not willing to get off your high horse and learn from other people in your new destination. The fact of the matter is, no one cares whether you came from money. What will matter much more to them is that you are black.
- Learn about the history and the roles black/ African Americans played in building the US and learn about the black /African contributions in other country that you currently live in.
For example Sidis in India, Kaffir in Sri Lanka, Afrika kokenli Turkler in Turkey, Afro Cubans, African-Iraqis, Afro-Brazilians, Afro-Mexicans and Afro-Ecuadorians etc.This is important because it would help you have a healthy relationship with people of African origin.Many continental Africans have little to no historical knowledge of what has happened to their ancestors that were enslaved and or migrated as warriors to other parts of the world, centuries ago. A lot of continental Africans have the tendency to discredit diasporans because they believe they are not doing enough to earn wealth. I recall being told by a Nigerian woman at her church’s charity event that African Americans are lazy, she went further to say, “president Obama doesn’t have African American mentality, that is why he succeeded in life.” If the Nigerian immigrant knew her history she would know that African Americans made it possible for immigrants from all around the world to live in the US, they are constantly fighting for the equality of all people especially for people of African descent in a white dominated country. Despite hundreds of years of racism, African Americans have fought and accomplished what 160 million Nigerians in a country that is predominately black has not done with all the wealth ( human and mineral ) at their disposal.The Nigerian nation state is often in cohort with white power to subjugate its citizens.
- As Paul Robeson would say “remain loyal to your convictions’ I would say stay faithful to your goals,do not be overwhelm by fast and materialistic life style that many people live. Think beyond here and now. Remind yourself that you are in the diaspora for a purpose, and therefore you have no business “uselessing” yourself.
- Attend African centered festivals/events. For example, in Pakistan Sheedi Mela have annual festival in honor of their African ancestors they, “gather at the shrine of Mangho Pir in Karachi to hold a sacred festival,” in the US there are several events such as National Black Theater Festival (NBTF) that attracts 60,000 black/African people,Juneteenth festival celebrates the end of slavery (June 19 ), Kwanzaa December 26-January 1 etc.This would provide you with opportunities to interact with Africans/ people of African descent and participate in keeping African cultures alive. To parents, your children would learn about their heritage and also see positive portrayal of African people. Research shows black children with strong African/black cultural identity do well in school.
- Exercise, it will help you stay in shape and focus mentally.Below are two ideas, African dance by Werrason congolese girls, and Black Girls Slim
- Do for self, you can make your own shampoo, hair grease, etc.
- Speak up and don’t allow others to exploit you simply because you are black/African!
- Join /create groups that are meant to empower and enlighten you. Cultures in the western world are highly individualistic, so if you don’t have a support system it would be difficult for you to accomplish your goals. You have to be proactive in being part of a community, be pan-african and join hands with other black people to uplift each other.
- Leave within your means
- Cook your own food, fast food is not healthy and it is mostly synthetic. That is to say it is man made with toxic additives that are cancer causing, the food does not digest properly so it sits in your stomach longer compared to natural food. This is one of the reasons why majority of Americans are obese and many Africans after few years in the diaspora they too become extremely fat. You can buy natural vegetables and food items at farmers market, ethnic food stores. If you can’t afford natural foods you could come together with others ( the power of collectivism, village style ) and put together some money then buy in bulk then share.
- If you must buy new clothes, don’t buy anything on full price, there is always sales. Personally I have been doing online shopping for years,they often have sales that are not available in stores, sometimes they have free shipping and handling.And if you don’t have a car this is a great way to shop!
- Buy from thrift/second hand store, this is where they sell used books,electronics, magazines, tables, clothes, kitchen utensils etc. Many times you could find good quality things as cheap as 50 cents. You could even take bus trips to wealthy neighborhoods, their thrift stores are usually great.The things I would discourage you from buying at thrift store are underwear, mattress, pillow and fabric couch/sofa. You have to buy these things new for health reasons.
- Avoid buying cheap food, they are not good for you. The companies that make majority of American foods are only interested in making money so your health is not a priority. For example, fake sugar, salt, flour are often mixed with real ingredients to increase quantity of the product. And they are sold very cheap, advertisements get you to think you are paying less for more but in reality,the food will killing you slowly.
- Attend events/lectures that serve free food ( college/graduate students) this should be on your daily time table. This way when you get home tired, you don’t have to cook.
- Take public transportation this is the cheapest way you can live in the diaspora. You don’t have to bother about gas money, car insurance and monthly car payment. You will live a responsible environmental friendly lifestyle and it opens up a different world for you. You would get to meet people of all works of life. For example if you live in Boston,Massachusetts majority (black, white, Asian etc) of the population takes public transportation, while in small town e.g Winston Salem, North Carolina it is predominately African Americans and Mexicans.
- Do not get credit card, the interest rate is high many Americans live the rest of their lives paying it off. Live within your means, I have never had a credit card and I intent to keep it that way.
10. Ask questions, if you don’t understand something ask for clarification. Yotti/Bali people of Northwest Cameroon and Middle-Belt Nigeria have a proverb that goes,“a person that ask questions will never get lost.”
3. How to Eat to Live by Elijah Muhammad