On 18th December 2023, Diaspora Africa commemorates the International Migrants Day. In light of the increasing number of migrants across the world, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 18 December as International Migrants Day in 2000. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness about migrant issues, mobilize efforts to address them, and collectively honor their resilience and contributions. In celebration of International Migrants Day, Diaspora Africa organized a 55-minute webinar titled “Technologizing African Migration: A Revolutionary Alternative?”. The virtual meeting featured practitioners from the media sector and welcomed both African and Diasporan audiences. Panel speakers included Johnpaul Rugaba (CEO, Sangyin Podcast), Tosin Taiwo (Founder, Diaspora Talkshow), and Uyapo Majahana (Journalist/Founder, Afro Communities of Hope).
The discussion focused on the vital role of technology in aiding both Africans in the Diaspora and those in Africa. It delved into the challenges faced by African migrants in host countries, shedding light on how media technology can be employed to unravel these issues across diverse geographical locations.
The role of technology in African migration
Technology plays a crucial role in addressing some of the challenges faced by migrants in host communities, such as racial discrimination, language barrier, and social integration. Through digital storytelling, social media, and online forums, technology enables the amplification of migrant voices, helps debunk stereotypes, and facilitates the dissemination of crucial information on legal rights, support services, and cultural integration. Diaspora Africa organised the webinar to emphasize the role of technology in contributing to a more informed and empathetic understanding of African migration, and to use the media to give hope to Africans in the Diaspora and in Africa.
During the panel session, Jasmine Cuevas (Moderator and Research Associate at Diaspora Africa) posed the question: “How do you all leverage the technologies on your platforms – Podcast, Afrobeats TV, and Journalism – to assist migrants as they settle in new locations?” In answering this question, Johnpaul Rugaba shared his experience as the CEO of Sangyin Podcast, which is one of the widest diaspora platforms in China that shares stories of African migrants and professionals in diverse sectors. According to Rugaba, most of the people he interviews on his podcasts have left their countries due to education, economic, or climate change issues. “My podcast tries to show the deep hassles migrants face and how they navigate the migration process and hassles”, he said.
Tosin Taiwo, founder of Diaspora Talkshow, emphasized her use of social media, art, and entertainment to convey African migrant stories. She said, “My talkshow focuses on people that have been in diaspora for a while and how they have successfully built their businesses”. Tosin further demonstrates how she uses her art through songs and theatre in narrating the stories of African migrants, including those belonging to the LGBTQ+ community.
Uyapo, a journalist and founder of Afro Communities of Hope also stresses the importance of social media and digital technologies. He shared insights on how Afro Communities collaborates with other organizations to communicate stories of African teenagers and educate migrants on utilizing technologies effectively.
Using technology to uncover stories of migrants across different geographies
When questioned about their approach to uncovering migrant stories across diverse geographies, Johnpaul shared insights from his podcast interviews. He emphasized the importance of delving beyond clichés, making conversations more human by asking guests personal and context-specific questions, aiming for relatability beyond local geography. Tosin echoed a similar sentiment, highlighting the diversity of her audience. She explained that her show considers a wide range of factors like race, culture, nationality, and ethnicity, intending to inform a broader community on the issue. Tosin’s interviews aim to unveil the genuine realities of African-Americans, shedding light on perspectives often unknown to people in Africa.
Providing hope for African migrants through the use of media technology
In response to the question, “How does discussing African consciousness through technology offer hope for African migrants?” The panelists highlight the importance of meaningful contributions from Africans in the Diaspora to their home countries. Rugaba suggests that migrants who acquire skills should consider returning home to make a positive impact. Tosin adds that even if physical return is not feasible, contributing through music, art, or culture, or visiting the continent remotely, can still be impactful. Uyapo shares, “I use my platform to share engaging and thoroughly researched stories that offer solutions to issues affecting migrants.”
Summing up the discussion, the panelists utilize technology on their platforms to share genuine narratives about African migrants, raise awareness about their experiences, and foster connections within the Diaspora.
Watch the recording below: