Mental Migration and Diaspora Cultural Associations: Insight on Traditional Solution Approach for Nigerian Immigrants
Mental migration is often a conceptualization of experiences of misunderstood frustrations. And such frustrations do arise when dealing with issues of migration and diaspora communities. Evidently, diaspora communities serve useful promotional links for people, particularly Nigerian immigrants, who are settling in a new place. This article highlights the critical representation of mental migration in ways in which traditional solution approach and the role of ethno-cultural communities in the question of the settlement of immigrants in a new location need to turn. The paper argues that helping the mentally distressed in view of the challenges they face when settling in a new world requires not only what I call participation therapy but also enabling discourses pertaining to Diaspora Day Celebrations in Nigeria. This will surely allow immigrants to contribute to and be involved in the desired flow of exchange of skills, experiences and developments. In this way, it is hoped that opportunities and growth will occur, which will contribute to the mental wellness of the immigrant, his or her community, and the host at large.
Keywords: Mental migration, diaspora associations, ethno cultural community, development, participation therapy, settlement, opportunity, traditional solution.
July 25 of every year since 2005 is held as The Nigerian Diaspora Day. The Diaspora Day marks as a part of the Federal Government's efforts to mobilize the Nigerians in the Diaspora to be involved in Nigeria's development process. The Celebration Day is also meant to recognize the Nigerian immigrants’ importance as key stakeholders in Nigeria's development. This also involves both the individual and collective successes of the targeted Nigerians in Diaspora. Since this declaration of the Diaspora Day, an annual science and technology conference involving Nigerian scientists and technology experts in the Diaspora, are being initiated. Such a conference is highly premeditated to promote continuous dialogue and interface as well as build partnerships and synergy between Nigerian professionals and experts in the Diaspora and their counterparts at home. Godfrey Okpugie’s report in the Guardian Online Edition of July 20, 2008 highlighted Ambassador Joe Keshi’s view of this year’s conference titled "Nigeria and the Diaspora: Utilizing Science and Technology to Drive Vision 2020" as a means to encourage Diaspora input and role in actualizing Vision 2020 through the transfer of skills, expertise, knowledge and technology to facilitate the country's transformation into a leading global economy. While it is important to pilot and model the diaspora policy on successful Nigerians in diaspora, it will also be relevant to look at the other side of the coin – the less successful ones faced with all forms of mental frustrations. In other words, we need to pose the question and try to find a response to what has happened to the less successful Nigerians in terms of mental migration and related challenges? I argue that there is a critical question of imbalance between being successful and not in diaspora. Should Nigerian immigrants who are less successful not be part of the equation in the discourses for advancing development at home through Nigerians in Diaspora?
To start with, this paper highlights a traditional approach to strengthen participation by immigrants for a better settlement and integration in a new place through Diaspora Cultural connections. And the fact that there exists a challenge in integrating and progressing within the cultural logic and mentality of the host society is, in part, what this paper will underline. In doing so, it draws attention to the particular difficulties faced by migrants who, for one reason or another, shy away from involvement with their community of origin in the diaspora. It is hoped that the information provided in this paper will help migrants consider the cultural values of belongingness and integration into agencies that deal with wider national and international development issues pertaining to settlement.
For the purpose of this paper, I have adopted a descriptive and explanatory approach in order to shed light on some experiences and reports on migration and settlement involving Nigerian migrants as they transact religious, economic, political, social, and cultural opportunities for adaptation and survival in the global scene. Specifically, I want to focus on the Igbo of Nigeria and highlight the mental experiences and challenges Nigerians face in settling down and moving on with life in the global diaspora of today. Throughout this paper, the terms “ethno-cultural associations” and “diaspora associations” will be used interchangeably as appropriate