Are Africans in the Diaspora real Africans

or do we cease being Africans when we leave Africa?

As  some  of you will be aware our guest blogger here Teddy Ruge of Project Diaspora is organising a Villages in Action conference in Uganda and he explained how and why he is doing it in his last blog here

Supporters of the VILLAGES IN ACTION initiative have worked and continue to do so in the background to  ensure that the conference goes ahead without a hitch.

But something rather sinister is going on too

What is that? I hear you ask!

The detractors are out in full swing and of all things they are questioning whether Teddy is a real African!

And  this  has led me to ask


When Teddy announced the dates of this conference he received a lot of support from folk in cyber space even the good folk at AID WATCH  posted something about the initiative on their blog and this is where the detractors started

check out this comment on the AID WATCH blog,

Stefano B. wrote:

This is interesting.

But it’s worth noting that the article was written by an African whoif I am not wrong – was educated and actually runs a business in US.

He may not be considered a total outsider, but he’s not even the quintessential citizen of the African continent.

and this was Teddy response

TMS Ruge wrote:

Thanks so much for writing about our project. I see the skeptics our there are already chiming in. It was to be expected.

Stefano – I was educated in Uganda, Kenya and the US. I also run a business in the US as well as two for-profit social enterprises in Uganda. So I am curious which part of that disqualifies me as a “quintessential citizen” of Uganda.

Thanks again, looking forward to

I had pretty much left it at that until this morning when I logged into Twitter to find several Tweets from Teddy aka @tmsruge  and here are those tweets

#via2010 Not a big deal, but think it is worth a discussion at least. Is there some barometer that disqualifies me as part of this village?

I’d like to ask every1 aware of #via2010. Color of blood do I need 2bleed in order to be “authentic” – so far am the outsider & don’t count

Comments: “While Villages in Action is being run to give poor voice, it is still being organized by outsiders” #via2010

I started by teasing him as per usual until I popped over to the blog in question  and you can read  the comments for yourself here

I was astounded by this. It seemed to me that Teddy who is currently on his way to Uganda via Amsterdam has taken to publicly  defending himself  that as a Ugandan Diaspora  he is qualified to start such an initiative and that he is indeed an African  even though he is lives outside of Uganda and speaks with an American accent. And don’t get me started on the stance that the folk at TED took!

I found this hurtful too . Teddy and I collaborate on a couple of initiatives and  I don’t know anyone that is more dedicated to the development of African as he is. I also wondered whether the rest of us African diaspora involved in the development of Africa will soon come under such attack?

Is it really possible that some folk out there do not consider African diaspora as real Africans with a passion about the development of Africa or is it because we have dared to take up roles that are normally taken up by the likes of BONO

What about our fellow  Africans on the ground? Do they view us as outsiders too?

I see our role  as the diaspora amongst other things as a bridge between the African continent and West.

One thing for sure most African governments are increasingly tapping into their diaspora not only as potential investors but also as away  of  attacking suitably qualified people to fill difficult to job vacancies.

This  was recently demonstrated by the Ugandan government, when they sent a whole delegation to address us. On the day the government officials told us that they have vacancies to fill within the infrastructure sector (Roads and Railways) and would especially like to tap into the skills of its diaspora and not only that they would like hire SKILLS ASSESSORS from within the diaspora so that they can establish exactly where the gaps are.

One of the government officials said that he too regards our role as a bridge between the West and Uganda(Africa)

So over to you folk.

ps, if this comes across as a rant it is meant to be! If you are on Twitter follow the hashtag #VIA2010 for more details on this and the conference


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