Many people are still asking, what is Diaspora? Who are the Diaspora? These are great questions to start a discussion. However, they are primarily asked by people exposed to the word, who want to use it, but are uncertain of its origin and how to apply it to Jamaica.
The term Diaspora (always capitalized) is the movement, migration, or scattering of a people away from an established or ancestral homeland. In our respect, from Jamaica to other parts of the world. We popularly use “every weh yuh guh, there is a Jamaican”. As accurate as it is, all Jamaicans who live in foreign lands are a part of the Jamaican Diaspora.
We can spin the meaning in various directions. For example, as Jamaicans, we are of the African Diaspora. Since Africa is the motherland of black people, this is a fact about most of the rest of the Caribbean. Additionally, Chinese-Jamaicans are of the Chinese Diaspora, and so on.
For Jamaica, a subset of the African Diaspora, the major Diaspora regions are the USA, UK, and Canada. All the outlying countries and regions also have smaller clusters of Jamaicans who are all members of our Diaspora.
All Diaspora, Not All Jamaican
Note, however, that there is a big difference between people who are part of the Jamaican Diaspora and persons who can apply for citizenship as Jamaicans. There are centuries of generations of Africans who left Africa via slavery still considered a part of the African Diaspora. As much as they are descendants, they cannot go back to claim citizenship from those countries legally. Similarly, limits arise when figuring out who is Jamaican and a part of the Jamaican Diaspora. We should not use the term Diaspora loosely to mean Jamaicans. There is a limit to who can claim Jamaican citizenship. As members of the Diaspora, we should check with the Jamaican consulates, embassies, or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in Jamaica.
During June each year, Jamaica and its Diaspora celebrate Diaspora Day on the 16th of the month. In 2004 at the inaugural Diaspora Conference in Jamaica, the participants agreed that a Biennial Diaspora Conference would invite Diaspora members to Jamaica to refresh, re-energize, plan, and shape a path for future partnership between the Diaspora and Jamaica for national development. This year (2022), Jamaica will host the 9th such conference, dubbed 60th, to coincide with Jamaica’s 60 years of independence.
The Jamaican Diaspora has become an essential instrument for development. First-generation Jamaican, friends of Jamaica, and other Diaspora members are all passionate about the country’s growth and the development of the people in Jamaica and engage with Jamaica through philanthropy, business, remittances, investments, partnerships, and collaborations. The movement is growing. The love for our island nation stands paramount in the people who help daily to make a difference in the lives of the needy. Continue your work, colleagues. It means a whole lot to many people.