The effects of diasporic migration amongst youths in Nigeria

The effects of diasporic migration

Topic: The effects of diasporic migration amongst youths in Nigeria


This project focuses mainly on exploring the effects of diasporic migration amongst youths in Nigeria both positively and negatively based on arguments and theories made by theorist in the field and how this relates to the history. The literal meaning that one can say for the word ‘Diaspora’ is ‘Dispersal’. Nicholas Van Hear says, “Dispersal may also result from a combination of compulsion and choice, and diaspora emerges as a result of cumulative processes and crisis”. This project focuses on the effects of this forced or chosen migration on the young adults. How the concept of starting a new life in a new environment affects the Nigerian youths, both in their way of life and in other daily situations


The word diaspora comes from the ancient Greek dia speiro, meaning “to sow over.” The concept of diaspora has long been used to refer to the Greeks in the Hellenic world and to the Jews after the fall of Jerusalem in the early 6th century bce.

The concept of diaspora did not figure prominently in the social sciences until the late 1960s; the use of the plural form of the word came later still. Despite its Greek origins, the word was referred primarily to to refer to the Jewish experience (the Babylonian Exile) as well as the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple.


The term “diasporas” has no definite definition, and its meaning has changed significantly over time, which makes it very difficult to measure. IOM defines diasporas as “migrants or descendants of migrants, whose identity and sense of belonging have been shaped by their migration experience and background.” (IOM Glossary on Migration, 2019) While the term was originally used to describe the forced displacement of certain peoples, “diasporas” is now generally used to describe those who identify with a “homeland”, but live outside of it. Definitions of “diasporas” also include not only first-generation emigrants, but also foreign-born children of these individuals, as long as they maintain some link to their parent’s home country. Diasporas are sometimes referred to as expatriates or transnational communities

According to the OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARIES, diaspora is defined as the movement of people from any nation or group away from their own country; people who have moved away from their own country.
A diaspora is a population that is scattered across regions which are separate from its geographic place of origin.

Diasporic refers to the dispersal of a people from their original homeland to other parts of the world. In the context of migration, diasporic refers to individuals or communities who have left their home country and established themselves in a new location, often as a result of political, economic, or social factors. The term is most commonly used in reference to populations of African descent who have been dispersed around the world as a result of the transatlantic slave trade and colonial expansion.


Youth is the time of life when one is young. The word, youth, can also mean the time between childhood and adulthood (maturity), but it can also refer to one’s peak, in terms of health or the period of life known as being a young adult.[1][2] Youth is also defined as “the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, etc., characteristic of one, who is young”. Its definitions of a specific age range varies, as youth is not defined chronologically as a stage that can be tied to specific age ranges; nor can its end point be linked to specific activities, such as taking unpaid work, or having sexual relations.

Around the world, the English terms– youth, adolescent, teenager, kid, youngster and young person, are interchanged, often meaning the same thing, but they are occasionally differentiated. Youth can be referred to as the time of life, when one is young. This includes childhood, and the time of life, which is neither childhood nor adulthood, but rather somewhere in between. Youth also identifies a particular mindset of attitude, as in “He is very youthful”. For certain uses, such as employment statistics, the term also sometimes refers to individuals from the ages of 14 to 21. However, the term adolescence refers to a specific age range during a specific developmental period in a person’s life, unlike youth, which is a socially constructed category.

The United Nations defines youth as persons between the ages of roughly 15 and 24, with all UN statistics based on this range, the UN states education as a source for these statistics. The UN also recognizes that this varies without prejudice to other age groups listed by member states such as 18–30. A useful distinction within the UN itself can be made between teenagers (i.e. those between the ages of 13 and 19) and young adults (those between the ages of 20 and 29). While seeking to impose some uniformity on statistical approaches, the UN is aware of contradictions between approaches in its own statutes. Hence, under the 15–24 definition (introduced in 1981) children are defined as those under the age of 14 (someone 13 and younger) while under the 1979 Convention on the Rights of the Child, those under the age of 18 are regarded as children. The UN also states they are aware that several definitions exist for youth within UN entities such as Youth Habitat 15–32, NCSL 12-24, and African Youth Charter 15–35.



In the Ancient Greece, the word referred to migration and colonisation. In Hebrew, “the term initially referred to the setting of colonies of Jews outside Palestine after the Babylonian exile and has assumed a more general connotation of people settled away from their ancestral homelands” (Shuval, 2003).

It is possible to identify at least three definitions of diaspora, based respectively on the concepts of ‘forced migration’, ‘mass scattering’, and ‘connectivity’ respectively. These 3 definitions were pointed out clearly in the work of William Safran, Robin Cohen and Roza Tsagarousianou.

Scholars have created various typologies of diasporas. Different persons see the diasporas as a similar thing but each of them gave a different definition which in turn gives a different approach to the term. Each frames diaspora differently, leading to the inclusion and exclusion of different population groups and as a consequence the cultivation of different ways of thinking about strategies towards diasporic populations. In some situations, diasporas may be classified as victim, imperial/colonial, trade, or labour diasporas, according to the main motives for original migration—namely, expulsion, expansion, commercial endeavours, or pursuit of employment, respectively. Other typologies emphasize historical or political factors, such as traditional/historical (Jewish, Greek, Phoenician) or stateless (Palestinian, Roma) diasporas. Most scholars accept that massive population movements since the middle of the 19th century have generated multiple diasporas that became especially visible in the late 20th century.

Willian Safran definition of diaspora sees diaspora as only one one particular form of mass migration, involving force exile and long period of resettlement and planting down of new roots in new regions of destination.

Robin Cohen, a social scientist working in the fields of globalisation, migration and diaspora studies added to Willian Safran’s definition. He argued that diaspora should include the groups who scatter voluntarily as well as those who move as a result of aggression, persecution or extreme hardship, should only be applied to groups who have settled in a new destination for a relatively long time period.

However, Roza Tsagarousianou saw a flaw in Robin Cohen’s definition and pointed out that according to modern communication and transportation technologies which has made movement so efficient, migration is barely permanent anymore and there is need to resist thinking of diaspora as a permanent settlement.


The terms “brain drain”, “brain gain”, “brain bank” and “brain circulation” are often mentioned in the context of understanding and studying diasporas. IOM defines “brain drain” as the “emigration of trained and talented individuals from the country of origin to another country resulting in a depletion of skills/resources in the former.” “Brain gain”, also called “reverse brain drain” refers to the benefits gained from the immigration of skilled individuals into a country. It has long been understood that when highly skilled or educated individuals emigrate en masse, it can pose problems for their country of origin. 
However, in most circumstances the continued involvement of diaspora groups in their countries of origin can provide a solution to brain drain. Since the late 1990s, the positive effects of emigration have given rise to new terms such as “brain circulation” and “brain bank”. “Brain circulation” refers to those emigrants who transfer new skills and knowledge invaluable for development to their home country. Even when skilled emigrants do not return to their countries of origin, they often provide the skilled professionals that remained behind with access to the valuable knowledge learned abroad, referred to as “brain bank.” (Kapur, 2001).


Many geographic investigations use the term diaspora as a descriptor of movement. Rather than exploring questions of identity, modernity, violent exile, collective histories and ambivalent nation-making, diaspora is simply synonymous with migration and immigration.

Though they are similar, the vary in certain areas- migrants can not be used to everytime to replace the word diaspora, it all depends on the context. This is because migration doesn’t really look deep into ones nationality, but the notion “diaspora” covers a broader population in which, in theory, includes all persons who maintain ties of some kind with a specific country of origin in relation to their migration background. Therefore we can say that diaspora is a type of migration, because diaspora also involves movement from a certain place to another

After Roza Tsagarousianou’s definition of diaspora, one can argue that diaspora and migration do not seem to have much or any difference since displacement may not be permanent.



Just like everything has a good and bad, the effects of diasporic migration among youths in Nigeria can be both positive and negative.
These effects one way or the other affects youths in their various lives, some are able to live with it, some cannot. In a case like this, the youth should seek help from reliable sources if under the bad effects of diaspora.


Diaspora can have a positive impact on youths by opening up new opportunities, a path to participate in higher education, a better and decent job, a chance to gain professional experience or to pursue personal development, by building self-confidence, and allowing them to acquire skills and competencies beneficial to themselves and their countries and communities of origin as well as destination.

These positive effects includes:

  1. Increased income: Many Nigerian youth who migrate to other countries are able to earn a higher income than they would have been able to in Nigeria, which can help improve their standard of living.
    Personally I think this is the main reason Nigerian youths try so hard to get a visa and travel to more advanced country to “make wealth”. Most automatically conclude they would be able to get a better job over there that would pay much better than however they’ve struggled here in Nigeria.
    Some youths are opportuned to get online jobs over there, but due to one reason or the other, they decide they want to be over there too and work physically. This can also be a reason of diaspora, but it is a positive effect because he or she is going for the betterment of his or her life, making money for his or her family.
  2. Improved access to education and training: Diasporic migration can also provide Nigerian youths with access to better educational and training opportunities.
    There are other countries with improved curriculums and educational system, a good percentage of Nigerian youths travel abroad to broaden their range of knowledge, some also go just to acquire a particular skill or to harness it. Some go to study full time or just to short term study on a particular field, examples are the Nigerian architects, some of them travel abroad to learn about the design of a building they haven’t designed before, just a short study or some go to get a good case study. This helps them widen their knowledge and are able to work on the project well and give good results.
  3. Increased cultural exposure: Living and working in a foreign country can expose
    Nigerian youth to new cultures and ways of life, broadening their perspectives and understanding of the world. Youths get more exposed to other cultures, and this actually is an interesting journey. Learning about a new culture can be really educative and fun. It helps you see how other people/ group of people see the world, how they do their things, how they go about their daily lives. Learning this cultures help the youths blend into the new environment and feel more comfortable and welcomed into that new place. Learning a new language can be fun too.


On the other hand, there are disadvantages of diaspora. This is just looking at the effects of diaspora on Nigerian youths from the other side of the coin. These negative effects can get really terrible if action is not taken in time.
These negative effects includes:

  1. Family separation: Many Nigerian youth who migrate are separated from their families, which can have negative psychological and emotional effects. There is this proverb “there is no place like home”, eventually one missing home and family. Being separated from family cannot be fun and this affect some youths, some may end up getting depressed, which later on leads to low self esteem and one looses believe in one’s self. This gets even more terrible to those who cannot so handle psychological problems. The main point in all this is that family matters in all aspects of a youth’s life and when that connection is lost, it is felt, that is, there’d be a significant difference (a noticeable difference).
  2. Discrimination and prejudice: Nigerian youths living in foreign countries may face discrimination and prejudice based on their race or nationality, which can be a source of stress and insecurity. Racism is a very terrible thing and most diasporas suffer this.
    Racism is discrimination based on race. Many youths in Nigeria suffer this, they get isolated from their peers because of the colour of their skin or their background country. This can really damage the youth mentally and physically sometimes, because most of them gets bullied and picked on mostly in schools. This affects the persons emotional and psychological well-being, it can also cause distractions because they keep thinking about it over and over again, which may eventually lead to low self esteem and may further into depression. An example of this discrimination is the Xenophobia issue in South Africa in 2019, and everybody knows about racism in the United States of America.
  3. Cultural disconnection: Over time,
    Nigerian youth who migrate may become disconnected from their cultural heritage, which can lead to a sense of loss and
    identity crisis. As we all know, culture is the way of life and this “way of life” cannot be the same in two completely different places so automatically that “way of life” is disturbed and in most cases ignored or forgotten about.
    Youths therefore have to adapt to a new culture entirely different from the ones they are used to. This a bad in the sense that culture should be passed down generations, so some original cultures are lost completely because of this. An example of this happened in the time of the black slaves, as time goes, their defendants barely know about their original culture.

Overall, the effects of diasporic migration among Nigerian youth are complex and nuanced, with both positive and negative aspects.

3.4 Conclusion

Diaspora has become a major talk in the field of literature as many writers have come forward to pen their works on the theme of diaspora. Migration has a very old origin since the exile of Jews. But theorizing diaspora has become the latest trend in the field of criticism. And of course it has left its mark on individuals and the group of people in general. This project shows how this affects Nigerian youths both positively and negatively. This effects can’t be stopped, it can only be controlled to some extent, and this is for the youths to figure out themselves.

YOUTH AND MIGRATION- the United Nations


Poornima M.D. and Dr. V Unnikrishnan
(Sept- Oct, 2015)
Pune research

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