Episode 15: Engaging the African diaspora - contributions, under-exploited potentials, and insights from AFFORD-UK


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Hello and welcome to another episode of the Migration & Diaspora Podcast, a show in which we talk about anything and everything to do with migration; with me your host Loksan Harley.

Today I have the honour of being joined by Onyekachi Wambu, Executive Director of the African Foundation for Development (AFFORD-UK), to talk about his illustrious career spent engaging African diasporas in support of the African continent's development.

Onyekachi has had a distinguished career as a print and broadcast journalist, spending time as a senior producer and documentary director at the BBC and PBS. He has also written extensively himself on Africa and the African diaspora, including authoring the books Empire Windrush – 50 Years of Writing about Black Britain and Under the Tree of Talking – Leadership for Change in Africa.

Onyekachi now heads AFFORD-UK, a London-headquartered international NGO with a mission to expand and enhance the contributions of Africans in the diaspora to advance Africa’s development. AFFORD-UK is a real pioneer and innovator in the field of diaspora engagement, and their advocacy work has contributed significantly to UK and international recognition of the importance of African diasporas to the continent's development. Onyekachi has also appeared as an expert contributor to numerous migration and diaspora-related high-level panels and forums.

Having known Onyekachi for a while now, I relished this opportunity to dig into his background to find out what has driven him to dedicate so much of his career to advocating for African diasporas. After talking about his childhood in post-independence Nigeria and his subsequent migration to the UK, Onyekachi deconstructs the "African diaspora", providing his own conceptual framework to define who they are and to explain the different ways (or "transfers") in which they contribute to the continent. We then talk about the role of AFFORD-UK in engaging diasporas, including some of the work they've done to leverage diaspora interest in contributing their time, skills, money, and more. We close with Onyekachi's insights into the key areas of under-exploited potential in African diaspora engagement, as well as his own lessons learned from many years working at the forefront of this exciting field.

I really enjoyed this discussion, as Onyekachi is one of the few people I know who has the vision and wealth of life experience required to draw the linkages between diaspora engagement and broader societal themes of racial injustice and inequality. And it was also great hearing more about AFFORD-UK's work, which has not only fostered the diaspora's contributions to the African continent but has also brought the African diaspora into critical conversations in the UK on the societal issues of our time. I definitely recommend checking out AFFORD's website at afford-uk.org to learn more. And if you want to hear episodes on diaspora engagement, I recommend checking out episodes 2, 4, and 9.

As always, thank you very much for listening and I hope you enjoy the show.

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