Sulayman S. Nyang*
Department of Africana Studies

Howard University

Washington, D.C.





The Africans who migrated into the United States of America in the 20th Century came unencumbered by the strictures of enslavement and bondage. Unlike their predecessors who were enslaved, and came to the United States via the Middle Passage, these Africans came to the U.S. to some degree, voluntarily, being only compelled by unrelenting economic crisis, political turmoil and the deleterious effects of natural disasters.  There were also a few who were not compelled by such dreadful strictures, and these immigrants had widely disparate motivations.  Even without any reliable data from interviews of these men and women who left their homes in Africa in search of education, fortune, refuge or adventure, one can identify four categories among them.  The first were the students who came in the late nineteenth century, sometimes with the support and assistance of American missionaries who hoped that they would later return to establish Christian missions, and collaborate with like-minded Christians to extend the message of Christ to their fellow Africans.  This group of Africans went primarily to historically Black colleges and universities.  Many came from West and Southern Africa.  There were also a few from East Africa.  The second group was African students who came during the 20th century for both secular and sacred education.  Some of these entered into conjugal relationships with White American and African-American women and decided to stay permanently in the country.  The third group consists of seamen and stowaways who found their way to American seaports such as New York City or New Orleans, Louisiana.  Many of these men who sailed on American or foreign ships settled in the New York-New Jersey area.  Their activities in Harlem attracted the attention of some of their contemporaries.  The fourth group of Africans who entered the history books, as part of the growing African immigrant community, are the political refugees.  Most of these African immigrants are the victims of the civil wars fought, either   as a result of the Cold War, in pursuit of national liberation, or in pursuit of national or sectional interest in border conflicts, or on the domestic front.

This paper will address the challenges and opportunities facing the African immigrant community and the African immigrant family.  Its first objective is to identify the building blocks that contribute to the development of the African immigrant community in the United States of America.  The second is to explain how changing times, conditions, and circumstances have combined to define the nature of the relationship between the African immigrant and the larger American society.  The third is to identify the main issues facing the African immigrant communities around the United States of America.  Working on the assumption that the African immigrant community is not monolithic, and that cultural background has differential impact on immigrants, this paper argues that African immigrants could either embrace or eschew assimilation.  For those that desire it, the assimilation process would depend on several critical variables: the ease of functioning in a society that speaks an intelligible language, the social class, and the socio-cultural origins of the immigrant, the immigrant’s political and psychological position, as well as the level of interest and dedication to the idea of settlement in a host country.  Even where settlement is desired, increasingly, there is the realization that immigrants could be transnational and thus disinterested in assimilation.   The fourth objective is to give a synthesized conclusion based on my assessment of the evidence gathered while investigating this subject matter.

The Making of the African Immigrant Community

 African immigrants began coming to the United States of America voluntarily not long after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery.  During the first thirty years after the Civil War, the number of free Africans who ventured to this part of the world was very small.  The accounts of Africans from the continent who visited the United States during the last three decades of the nineteenth century show that many of these men and women were Liberians and other West Africans from other points along the coast.  There were also African-Americans who settled in Liberia and established linkages between the two African peoples (in the continent and the U.S.) and created travel opportunities for many continental Africans who previously had neither dared nor were welcome as free immigrants to this part of the Atlantic in the era of the slave trade.[1]  One African immigrant, whose activities have now become a significant chapter in the history of Pan Africanism and African immigration to the United States, was Chief Sam from Ghana.  Professor Jabez Ayodele Langley’s book on the Pan African movement in West Africa tells the story of how Chief Sam came to the United States in the late nineteenth century and settled in New York.  His business ventures enabled him to prosper and to establish networks of friendship with African-Americans.  In the early part of the 20th century, when race relations between Blacks and whites in the United States were at their worst, and lynching was prevalent in the South, Chief Sam offered his services to Black families in Oklahoma and Kansas, who wished to emigrate from the United States to the African continent.  His efforts failed not because of his inability to organize and lead his followers into the Promised Land, but because the colonial authorities conspired to stymie his efforts.  They saw as clear and present danger, this massive migration of New World Blacks, into their newly pacified colonies.[2]

Although we do not know much about the lives and times of the other African contemporaries of Chief Sam in New York and in other spots within the borders of the United States, there is circumstantial evidence from the writings of others that point to an African immigrant presence in Harlem during the first three decades of this century.  Ras Makonnen, a Trinidadian activist of the global Pan African movement, spoke of some African residents in New York during the inter-war period.[3]  Many of these Africans were Somali men who reached this part of the United States, either as seamen or stowaways.  Many settled in Harlem and started new lives.  In my investigation of Islam among the African-Americans, data from my interviews with some of the earliest Muslim activists in Harlem, suggest some Moroccan, Somali, and West African presence among the Blacks settling in New York.  Moving Westwards from New York, we have records on the appearance in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, of Muhammad Majid, a Sudanese who came to the United States to work with African-American converts to Islam.  According to FBI records obtained under the Freedom of Liberation Act by Professor Robert Hill of UCLA, Editor of the Marcus Garvey Papers, Muhammad Majid attracted the attention of the authorities who saw him as part of a Japanese propaganda campaign against the U.S.  He had to leave the United States in 1928.[4]  Details about Muhammad Majid and his activities are presented to the scholarly community by Professor John Hunwick and a Sudanese collaborator.  The two scholars stumbled upon a scholarly gold mine when they located a box of files relating to the life and times of this Sudanese immigrant who had settled in Pittsburgh some seventy years ago.[5]

Besides the records on these immigrants, there is also the story of Duse Muhanutiad Ali, a Sudano-Egyptian journalist, playwright, and activist who came to the United States of America in the 1920s and settled for some time in Detroit before his relocation to West Africa, where he founded newspapers and contributed to the Pan African discourse.  Prior to his appearance in the United States, Duse Muhammad Ali was the editor and publisher of the African Times and Orient Review in England.  Because of the nature of this publication and the manner in which it dealt with the events of the times, one can make the case that Duse was the doyen of Afro-Asian journalism in England.  One of his protégés, who would later enter history as a great Pan Africanist, was Marcus Garvey.  This Jamaican immigrant crossed paths with many Africans in Europe and in the United States of America.[6]

Besides the figures who made history, there were many unknown African immigrants who melted into the ocean of names and faces in America.  Their stories are parts of anecdotes told by individual family members, and passed from one generation to the next.  Today, modern families can reconstruct their past with the aid of official documents and even scientific innovation.  However, those whose ancestors never experienced the horrors of degradation and humiliation of the Middle Passage, may be able to reconstruct their histories more easily.

The composition of the African immigrant community changed in the 1930s and 1940s, when a growing body of African students began to come to the United States for higher education.  Among these men and women, those from former British colonies were breaking with tradition by choosing American schools over British ones.  The vast majority of these students of the interwar period returned to Africa.  Some of them made a significant impact on world history; others simply faded away into the mist of historical time.  We learn much from the autobiographies of several of these men and women who wrote about their experiences in the United States.  In many respects they portrayed a picture of life in the U.S. as experienced by continental Africans.  One early account came from the pen of Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria, who had studied at Lincoln University and later became the first President of Nigeria.[7]  Some of his contemporaries from West Africa who came to America remained in the United States.  Of these, particularly remarkable is the saga of Dr K. W. Aggrey of Ghana, whose activities in the United States are legendary.  Married to an African-American, and being one of the first generation of African professors in America, this educator from Ghana returned home to teach at Achimota College.  He also straddled the continent and its  Diaspora in his family relations.  Aggrey’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are now a part of the African-American community.  One of his children rose to the rank of U.S. ambassador in the State Department and also served as the Director of the Howard University Press in Washington, D.C. for many years.[8]

The generation of Kwame Nkrumah followed the first wave of Africans coming to the United States in the 20th century.  Like the earlier cohort, the students who came at the same time as Nkrumah, also witnessed the settling of some who decided to remain permanently in America.[9]  The African students, who for one reason or the other, stayed on, became part of the Black community.  Their descendants have now become an integral part of Black America.  The composition of the African immigrant population has become more complex in the post colonial period.  Two factors were responsible.  In the first instance, African independence opened the floodgates of Americanism in the continent, and African peoples saw this as a new opportunity to seek firsthand experience of the U.S.  Many belong to the category I have called elsewhere “The children of the Cold War.”  In essence, they were the beneficiaries of the ideological rivalry between the Soviet Union and the West.  These two contending powers offered generous scholarships to young Africans for higher education.  Chosen purposely, to serve as ideological proxies in the Cold War, most returned home to obtain lucrative jobs in their countries of origins.[10]  However, a tiny faction decided to remain in the U.S.  This body of Africans gradually made up a significant building block in the house of “Samba Africa” in America.

The gradual but significant development of an African immigrant community, was due to the state of African governance in the post colonial period.  Although the arrival of political freedom in Africa spelt success for many of those with Western education, the political battles for a piece of the African pie soon led to political instability and conflict.  The challenges of nation-building meant that many Africans found their countries transformed into battlegrounds, and their careers stymied by the political breakdown and chaos in their countries.  Many of these men and women fled to abroad, and some of them returned to the Western countries where they had received higher education, including the U.S.  Most of them have engaged the struggle to become acclaimed and as a result the African immigrant population became diversified, because those who had stayed behind due to marital ties were joined by refugees from political crises and conflicts.[11]

The diversity of the African immigrant community has been manifested in several ways, including gender, regional origin, and socioeconomic class.  Until the postcolonial era, the African immigrants were overwhelmingly male and single.  This distribution pattern changed with political independence.  By the time Africa achieved her political freedom, a large and growing body of women had Western education.  They were also beginning to compete with their male counterparts for opportunities to study in colleges and universities abroad.  Some of these women returned home just like their male counterparts; others were married to African men who decided to remain in the United States; a small percentage also decided to stay due to marriage to American men.[12]

The attainment of political independence also contributed to the diversification of the population of African immigrants.  Until the early 1960’s, these men and women were mainly from the English-speaking African countries and were interested in navigating the stormy waters of American society.  The post independence period created many opportunities for Africans from other colonial territories to venture outside the continent, mostly in quest of higher education.  Owing to the diversification process that resulted in increased settlement of migrant Africans in the U.S., the African immigrant community now includes permanent residents from virtually every country in the continent regardless of the language inherited from their experience of colonization.  The numbers vary from country to country.  The African states that have experienced political stability since independence are less likely to have many permanent residents in the United States.  When such African countries combine steady economic growth with political stability, the numbers of their indigenes that choose permanent migrant status in the U.S. is even more minuscule.  Thus, the largest concentrations of Africans in the United States are the Nigerians, Ethiopians, Ghanaians, Sierra Leoneans, Liberians, South Africans, Somali, Senegalese, and Kenyans, (all citizens of countries that have experienced considerable political turmoil and/or conflict since their independence).  There are also sizeable numbers of Zairois, Sudanese, Egyptians, Eritreans, Ugandans, Cameroonians, Algerians, Moroccans, Libyans, Malians, and Cape Verdeans in the U.S.  The African immigrant population also includes immigrants from smaller states like the Gambia, Togo, Mauritius, and Lesotho.  Many of these are students who initially came to study, but have decided to stay on in the U.S.  Some of these African immigrants had at some point returned home to take lucrative jobs, but because of changed political fortunes in their countries, relocated from their original home countries.[13]

The most recent additions to the growing list of African immigrants are the Somali and Rwandans.  The collapse of the Somali state and the much televised bloodletting that followed the crisis attracted the attention of many Americans.   Thousands of Somali now live in the U.S.  They are scattered in various parts of the country. Some are in the Greater Washington area, especially in northern Virginia; others are in the West Coast, especially in San Diego, California; yet others are in the Mid-West, particularly in Minnesota and parts of Illinois.  In the northern Virginia region of the U.S., according to figures from the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS), three thousand Somali took up residence in the jurisdiction.  Many of these are women and children seeking reunification with their husbands and fathers.[14]

As with the Somali case, the Rwandan genocide triggered a series of migrations to other countries.  The  Hutu were the largest number of migrants to flee Rwanda.  Majority took refuge in other African countries, and a small fraction sought refuge in the U.S.  However, African refugees have not benefited from U.S. immigration as much as refugees from other countries.  The Rwandans who were in the U.S. at the time of the genocide managed to stay on in the U.S. because they made a case for their continued stay.  In return, they received the U.S. government’s bureaucratic wink, rather than an open invitation to remain in country until the political situation improved in their home country.  This was the same response given to the Ugandans and Liberians when their countries became embroiled in turmoil.

The African Immigrant Family: Challenges and Opportunities

             Several issues confront the scholar studying the African immigrant family in the U.S.  However many such issues are not peculiar to Africans.  Most immigrants contend with them.  The first issue concerns identity and self-definition.  Coming to a White and Christian majority society, how have African immigrants fared thus far?   This question cannot be answered conclusively.  There is need for more research on African immigrants from each of the continent’s countries.  There are already studies on the Nigerians, Ethiopians, and Senegalese living in various parts of the U.S.  These studies show that the new immigrants are juggling with multiple identities.  Their American experience has made both the individual and family members take a hard look at their circumstances and conditions in American society.  In a society where people define themselves racially, ethnically, economically, and linguistically, members of African families have multiple identities, and each is meaningful depending on the context in which they find themselves.  At one level, she/he is a Black person in a sea of whiteness.  At another level, there are religious and denominational differences with other Africans and Americans.  The same African may be in one instance, the only restaurant owner at the Parents/Teachers Association meeting, and in another instance, a parent from Ethiopia as opposed to Gambia or Ghana.  Within the smaller universe of continental Africans, the immigrant may be one out of thousands of Nigerians, Sierra Leoneans, South Africans, or Kenyans living within a given city.  Under these conditions, the African immigrant may find out that the process of splinterization of the original African community in that city, has reached what I have called elsewhere the “islandization” process. This is to say, at this juncture, the immigration now witnesses the clustering effects of culture, language, and the increase in the number of “homeboys” and “homegirls.”  This process of islandization may lead to the rediscovery of their ethnic, subethnic, and African high school affiliation as the bases of the identities they choose to embrace or reinforce as new immigrants.  Many African organizations were created as a result of such acts of self-definition among the African immigrants.

The process of self-definition can also take on a religious character.  In their study of the Ethiopian communities in the United States of America, the husband and wife team, Professors Gactachew Metaferria and Maiginet Shifferew demonstrated how the Ethiopian Coptic Church now plays an important role in the adjustment of Ethiopian immigrants to American society.[15]  The Nigerian, Ghanaian, Sierra Leonean, and Liberian Christian churches are also playing similar roles in their communities.  One of the African Protestant leaders that has received a lot of media attention is Rev. Dr. Darlingston Johnson from Liberia, who now serves as the Apostolic General Overseer of Bethel World Outreach Fellowship, with its headquarters in Liberia. Dr. Johnson is a founding Senior Pastor of the Bethel World Outreach Ministries in Silver Spring, Maryland.  According to a piece written in the April, 1998 issue of The Christian Times International, a monthly published by Nigerian-born journalist, Chuks Anyanwu, Rev. Dr. Johnson’s Church in Washington was established in 1990 when the Liberian crisis forced some of the Christians to pray for peace and stability in their country.  The Christian pastor told this Africa-oriented Christian publication that he and seventeen others gathered to set up this ministry among their people.  They saw themselves not as refugees but as missionaries.

The African Christian communities include the highly organized Nigerian Catholics, whose organization has led to the offering of religious services in Igbo, and some Eastern African Catholics who have their services in Swahili. There are also various branches of the Christ Apostolic Church, Aladura and Celestial Church of Christ whose services are held in Yoruba.  These steps are taken largely because, the congregations that introduced these innovations have reached a critical mass as linguistic communities in the U.S., and they are responsive to the demands of their congregation for worship in their indigenous languages.

Among the Protestant groups that are also organizing are the African Initiated Christian churches, which have also responded to the challenge of aiding African family adjustment to American life and culture. The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) was founded in Nigeria in 1952 by Pa Josiah Akindayomi, is and now led by Pastor Enoch A. Adeboye, as the General Overseer.  With over 6,000 parishes worldwide, 431 of them in the U.S., the RCCG has its North American headquarters in Dallas, Texas[16].  The Brotherhood of the Cross, founded by Olumba Olumba Obu in Calabar, Nigeria (OOO), [17] now has a branch in several American localities.  With about two million followers worldwide, this religious group caters to its African flocks in those U.S. cities where sizable populations of Nigerians and Cameroonians live.  The Cherubim and Seraphim Church, International House of Prayer for All People also has a chapter in Washington, D.C.  Founded by Reverend (Dr.) Fred O. Ogunfiditimi, this church now has followers all over the U.S.  According to Chike Anigboh, the church has staked a claim for itself in the realm of healing and spirituality.  With the ever-growing challenges of daily stress and pain, many African immigrants, including those with limited financial and emotional means, are drawn to these churches.  The churches are socializing agencies that respond to the material and spiritual needs of tormented humanity in the jaws of city life.  For example, Reverend (Dr.) Ogunfiditimi’s church states its mission as sheltering stranded Nigerians, and first-time Nigerian sojourners to the United States.  These stranded Nigerians could stay at the church for two months, to enable them to sort out their problems.  These efforts of the African Initiated Christian churches are also evident in the activities of the mainline Protestant African Christian Churches.[18]  The news report on Rev. Dr. Johnson of Liberia cited above stated that the “building hosting the church is concise and spiritually uplifting.  The outside does not easily tell the hidden treasures inside.  It has a day care center, a Bible College, Computer Learning Program, and Christian books and supplies.”  The paper enumerates other agenda items of this African Christian Church in the Greater Washington area.  Among the projects planned is the dream of establishing a Daily Bread Community Action Program to help the homeless and the needy and counseling programs to rehabilitate drug addicts and alcoholics.  According to the newspaper article, they also plan to establish a cafeteria, and have set up a facility to handle the financial, immigration, legal and other problems of their members.

Muslim African immigrants have also embraced their religion to offer security and meaning to them in their new environment.  There are Senegambian, Sierra Leonean, Ghanaian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somali, Sudanese, and various North African Muslim organizations.  The African immigrant Islamic groups are inspired either by the traditional Sufi orders back home, or by the Islamic revivalism that presently hold sway in certain parts of the Muslim World.  According to Sylvaine Diouf-Kamara, in an essay on Senegalese immigrants living in the U.S., particularly in New York City, African immigrant women are increasingly independent.  This she attributed to the influence of the prevalent gender relations in their new environment, part of which is due to the imperatives of the need for daily survival in an industrial society, which make it difficult for families to survive on one income.  In addition the number of highly educated women emigrating from Senegal to the U.S. has increased in recent years.  There is evidence that African Muslim immigrants are changing their attitudes and perceptions.  These changes and the manner in which they are received and perceived by African immigrant Muslims would have serious consequences in shaping family values among African immigrant Muslims.[19]

Another issue that confronts African immigrants is the “myth of return.”  All immigrants entertain the notion of leaving their home countries for countries of settlement, striking it rich, and then returning home with enough resources to live well in their countries of origin.  Often, this does not happen.  Instead the single immigrant marries a local woman or man and ends up with a family and children.  The immigrant may then feel compelled to stay long enough to ensure those children’s education and autonomy, but more often than not, the children establish their own families and what was originally meant to be short term migration becomes permanent.  Due to the myth of return among the African immigrants, there is a serious gap between ideals and realities.  Most have grand ideas about what they would like to contribute to the transformation of their home countries.  Because of their procrastination and ambivalence, they focus on their home countries, while neglecting to socialize their children to cope with life in their countries of origin.  It is owing to this neglect that there is a growing body of young Africans who do not speak any African languages.  Many thought that these languages would be acquired, as if by osmosis, through the child’s interaction with members of the family.  Given these challenges, it is appropriate to raise the question of socialization and the need for social and moral agency in the education of African immigrant children.  There is a serious gap between the ideals of the first generation of African immigrants and the needs of the second and subsequent generations.  However, the research data is still very limited, and more scholarly attention should be devoted to the study and understanding of this phenomenon.[20]

Connection with the embassies of their countries of origin in the US is an avenue through which some support could be garnered in support of the efforts by African immigrant families, both to cope with the adjustment problems encountered in the U.S., and with the linguistic and other cultural resources that could support them in the socialization of their children.  It is not an exaggeration to say that most African immigrants have little or no contact with their embassies.  The only time these immigrants visit their embassies is when they need to replace their expired passports.  Otherwise they try their best to keep them out of their business.  There are several reasons for this ambivalent relationship.  The first is that the political conditions in the immigrant’s home country may be such that he or she does not want to get too close to those in power.  Sometimes this is due to the fact that immigrants belong to a losing party, and the post-electoral political crisis and/or other related reasons decided to seek political asylum in the U.S.  Another possible reason is that African immigrants may feel that their countries’ embassies do not have much to contribute to their welfare, and that the officers running it are ethnically or regionally biased against them.  These ethnic or regional biases have often poisoned and muddied the waters of African solidarity abroad. Besides the myth of return, there is the issue of sending remittances to relatives back home.  Because of the extended family system in Africa, the African immigrant families cannot think solely in terms of nuclear family arrangements.  Since, on the average, the African immigrant hails from a large extended family, the opportunity to live in America is a boon or a bane, depending on the personal circumstances of the immigrant family.  The African immigrants who have close social and familial ties back home have the constant ritual of going to American banks, money transfer agencies, African-managed foreign exchange bureau, and to returning compatriots to deposit monies intended for relatives back home.[21]

Another issue that increasingly affects African immigrant families is the spread of negative values into the African immigrant community.  These include the rise of criminal activity and embrace of the drug culture by some African immigrants.  The drug culture deserves proper historical treatment.  There are many gaps in our knowledge about this phenomenon.  New research is necessary.  Some African immigrants are now confined to U.S. jails and prisons as a consequence of involvement in the narcotic trade.[22]  Some have become homeless due to complications from uncontrollable drug use, mental illness, alcoholism, and spiraling financial downturn.  There remains such a dearth of information about the causes and consequences of homelessness among African immigrants, that scholars must engage in research and share their findings.  Data and information on African immigrants in the U.S. could also be useful in shaping public policies to better meet the needs of the homeless.


            Five points are worth remembering about the new waves of African immigrants in the United States of America.  First, Africans have now decided to settle in the U.S. voluntarily over one hundred years after the Civil War, and over two hundred years after the American abolition of the slave trade.  This is a historical watershed in the sense that the diversity of Africa that characterized the first waves underwent transformation in the colonial era.  Whereas the first wave of Africans came as citizens and subjects of ethnic nationalities, kingdoms, and empires, of the pre-colonial era, their brethren who came here during the last one hundred years arrived as citizens of nations that did not exist in 1619 or 1865.  Secondly, the new Africans are transnational, and they carry multiple identities that will affect their relationships with African-Americans, and other Americans, with fellow African immigrants and with persons living in their home countries.  This is part of the new reality of globalization.  The African immigrants who can successfully juggle these multiple identities effectively are qualified to call themselves transnational.  Many are not only comfortable in their culture of origin, but able to operate meaningfully and effectively anywhere in the global environment.  Thirdly, the African immigrant family faces the same difficulties as other immigrant families.  The problems of identity and self-definition will remain issues that individuals and communities must address.  Fourth, the role and place of religion in the lives of the African immigrants is of great consequence.  The African tendency to hedge their metaphysical bets is most evident in the loving embrace of Abrahamic faiths, while simultaneously pouring libations at weddings, baby showers, public events, and funeral rites.  Finally, African immigrants are now a part of American society, and their children and grandchildren will most likely be driven by similar impulses that as propel other Americans.



 Abu Shouk, Ahmed I., John O. Hunwick, and R. X. O’Fahey, “A Sudanese Missionary to the United States: Satti Majid, ‘Shaykh al-Islam in North America,’ and his Encounter with Noble Drew Ali, Prophet of the Moorish Science Temple Movement,” Sudanic Africa, a Journal of Historical Sources 8 (1997): 137-191.

Adogame, Afe. “Contesting the Ambivalences of Modernity in a Global Context: The Redeemed Christian Church of God,” Studies in World Christianity, vol. 10, (2004): 25-48.

Azikiwe, N. My Odyssey: An Autobiography. New York: Praeger, 1970.

Baynham, S. “Narco-Trafficking in Africa: Security, Social and Economic Implications.” African Security Review, vol. 4, no. 6 (1995): 32-38.

Bittle, William E. The Longest Way Home: Chief Alfred Sam’s Back to Africa Movement. Detroit: Wayne State University, 1964.

Brotherhood of the Cross and Star. Christ Universal Spiritual School of Practical Christianity. (accessed January 17, 2011).

Condon, Patrick. “Minnesota leads nation in Somali immigrants,” Minneapolis Public Radio (17 February 2006) (accessed October 31, 2008)

Diouf-Kamara, Sylviane. “The Senegalese in New York: A Model Minority?” translated by Richard Philcox, in Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noir 2. (Summer-Fall 1997): 95-115.

Dosumu-Johnson, T. Reflections of an African Nationalist. New York: Vantage Press, 1980.

Duffield, Ian. Duse Mohamed Ali and the Development of Pan-Africanism, 1866-1945. Ph.D. dissertation, Edinburgh University, 1971.

Ebbe, O. N., “Drug Trafficking, Money Laundering, and Political-Criminal Nexus in Africa,” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Atlanta Hilton Hotel, Atlanta, GA Online (16 August 2003) (accessed  October 23 2008).

Grieco, Elizabeth. The African Foreign Born in the United States. Migration Policy Institute – Migration Information Source: US in Focus (September 2004) (accessed November 1, 2008).

Haddad, Y. Y. (ed.) Muslims in the West: From Sojourners to Citizens. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Kayira, Legson. I Will Try. New York: Doubleday, 1965.

King, K. “James E.K. Aggrey: Collaborator, Nationalist, Pan African.” Canadian Journal of African Studies, vol. 3, no. 3, (Fall 1970): 511-530.

Langley, J. Ayodele. Panafricanism and Nationalism in West Africa, 1900-45, Oxford: Clarenden Press, 1973.

Lennon, C. J. “Historical Census Statistics on the Foreign-born Population of the United States: 1850-1990”, from US Bureau of the Census, Population Division (February 1999). (accessed October 31, 2008).

Navjot, Lamba K., and  M. M. Immigrants and Ethnic Minorities on the Praries: A Statistical Compedium. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: Prairie Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Integration, 2000.

Neal, Ronald V.  “Merchants of Death Target Africa,” Africa Recovery, vol.12, no. 1 (August 1998)

Nkrumah, K. Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah. New York: International Publishers, 1957.

Nyang, S. “Growth of Islam in America,” The Saudi Gazette, October 19 1983.

Okome, Mojubaolu. O. “Spinning an African Academy into the World Wide Web: the Liberatory and Democratic Potential of African Scholarship in Cyberspace.” CODESRIA-ASC Conference Series 2006: The Bridging the North-South Divide in Scholarly Communication on Africa: Threats and Opportunities in the Digital Era. University of Leiden, the Netherlands, 6-8 September 2006. (accessed October 10 2008).

Rashad, A., Islam, Black Nationalism & Slavery. A Detailed History. Beltsville, Maryland: Writer’s Inc., 1995.

Rice, Andrew. “Mission from Africa,” The New York Times, April 8, 2009, (accessed January 17, 2011).

Robinson, Bashir. A. and J. Gregory Robinson. “Estimates of Emigration of the Foreign-Born Population: 1980-1990,” US Bureau of the Census Population Division Working Paper No. 9., (December 1994) (accessed October 31, 2008).

Semple, Kirk. A Somali Influx Unsettles Latino Meatpackers, from New York Times (15 October 2008) (accessed November 1 2008).

SULAIR: Africa South of the Sahara. Topics: Education: African Brain Drain. The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University, 1994-2010. (accessed October 31, 2008).

Tebeje, Ainalem. “Brain Drain and Capacity Building in Africa,” from International Development Research Centre: Science for Humanity (22 February 2005) (accessed October 31, 2008).

United States Department of Homeland Security. Yearbook of immigration Statistics. (2004-2007) (accessed October 31, 2008).

Weissbord, R. G. Ebony Kinship: Africa, Africans, and the Afro-American. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwoord Press, 1973.


*Sulayman Nyang teaches at Howard University in Washington, D.C. where he serves as Professor of African Studies. From 1975 to 1978 he served as Deputy Ambassador and Head of Chancery of the Gambia Embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Following his diplomatic stint, he immigrated to the United States and returned to academic life at Howard University, where he later assumed the position of department chair from 1986 to 1993. He also serves as co-director of Muslims in the American Public Square, a research project funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Professor Nyang has served as consultant to several national and international agencies. He has served on the boards of the African Studies Association, the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists. He is listed on the editorial boards of several national and international scholarly journals.

End Notes

[1]For some discussion on the founding of Liberia and the Post Bellum relations that existed between African-Americans and Africa, see the following works:  (Magubane, 1987; Uya, 1971; Weissbord, 1973)

[2] The story of Chief Sam is available in Langley, J. A. (1973). Panafricanism and Nationalism in West Africa 190 (“Growth of Islam in America,” The Saudi Gazette, October 19, 1983 see also Adib Rashad, Islam, Black Nationalism & Slavery. A Detailed History (Beltsville, Maryland: Writer’s Inc., 1995) , pp. 141-42)0-1945. New York, New York: Oxford University Press and Geiss, W. B. (1964). The Longest Way Home: Chief Alfred Sam’s Back to Africa Movement. Detroit: Wayne State University.

[3] Weissbord, R. G. (1973). Ebony Kinship. Africa, Africans, and the Afro-American. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwoord Press.

[4]See Nyang, S. (1983 , October 19 ). “Growth of Islam in America”. The Saudi Gazette, and Rashad, A. (1995). Islam, Black Nationalism & Slavery. A Detailed History. Beltsville, Maryland: Writer’s Inc.

[5]Ahmed I. Abu Shouk, J. O. (1997). “A Sudanese Missionary to the United States: Satti Majid, ‘Shaykh al-Islam in North America’, and his Encounter with Noble Drew Ali, Prophet of the Moorish Science Temple Movement”. Sudanic Africa , 8, pp. 137-191.

[6] For more information on Duse Muhammad Ali, see Ian Duffield’s dissertation on this African journalist and activist, Duffield, I. (1971). Duse Mohamed Ali and the Development of Pan-Africanism, 1866-1945. Ph.D. dissertation, Edinburgh University.

[7] For some continental views on American society and culture, see Azikiwe, N. (1970). My Odyssey: An Autobiography . New York: Praeger. Also see Dosumu-Johnson, T. (1980). Reflections of an African Nationalist (chapters 3&4). New York: Vantage Press, and Nkrumah, K. (1957). Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah. New York: International Publishers.

[8] For some discussion on K. W. Aggrey, see the following:  King, K. (1970, Fall). “James E.K. Aggrey: Collaborator, Nationalist, Pan African”. Canadian Journal of African Studies , 3 (3), pp. 511-530.

[9] Kwame Nkrumah gives some interesting analyses of American society, See his autobiography, Ghana. The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrurnah, op.cit.

[10] For some discussion on the Cold War and its impact on educational programs in the developing areas see the following works: Rowe, R. W. (1961, June 22). “Strangers in Africa”. The Reporter , pp. 34-35. Robert Weissbord, op. cit., chapter 6.

[11] The factors leading to the brain-drain are well known in the literature. For more details and analyses, see the following studies:  Mutume, G. (2003, July). Reversing Africa’s ‘brain drain’. Africa Recovery , 17 (2);  Tebeje, A. (2005, 2 22). Brain Drain and Capacity Building in Africa . Retrieved October 31, 2008, from International Development Research Centre: Science for Humanity: For a comprehensive database of mostly online sources on the brain drain, also see: The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University. (1994-2005). Topics: Education: African Brain Drain . Retrieved October 31, 2008, from SULAIR: Africa South of the Sahara:

[12] For some discussion on African students in the West, especially in the United States, see the following books: Kayira, L. (1965). I will try. New York: Doubleday.Nkrumah, K. (1957). Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah. New York: International Publishers.Azikiwe, N. (1970). My Odyssey: An Autobiography . New York: Praeger.Dosumu-Johnson, T. (1980). Reflections of an African Nationalist (chapters 3&4 ed.). New York: Vantage Press.

[13] For U. S. Immigration & Naturalization Service’s statistics on African immigration since the late 1950s, see the annual reports from 1955-98; also see: Lennon, C. J. (1999, February). “Historical Census Statistics on the Foreign-born Population of the United States: 1850-1990”. Retrieved October 31, 2008, from US Bureau of the Census, Population Division: ; United States Department of Homeland Security. (2004-2007). Yearbook of immigration Statistics. Retrieved October 31, 2008, from; Robinson, B. A. (1994, December). US Bureau of the Census Population Division Working Paper No. 9. Retrieved October 31, 2008, from ESTIMATES OF EMIGRATION OF THE FOREIGN-BORN POPULATION: 1980-1990

[14] For some discussion on the Somali presence in the United States since the fall of ex-dictator Siad Barre, see:  Condon, P. (2006, February 17). Minnesota leads nation in Somali immigrants. Retrieved October 31, 2008, from Minneapolis Public Radio:; Semple, K. (2008, October 15). A Somali Influx Unsettles Latino Meatpackers . Retrieved November 1, 2008 , from New York Times:; Grieco, E. (2004, September ). The African Foreign Born in the United States . Retrieved November 1, 2008, from Migration Policy Institute – Migration Information Source: US in Focus:

[15]Husband and wife team, Getachew Metaferria and Maiginet Shifferew attest to the key role played by the Ethiopian Coptic Church as an agent of socialization.  See: Haddad, Y. Y. (Ed.). (2002). Muslims in the West: From Sojourners to Citizens. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 256.

[16] RCGG North America “Our Legacy” Accessed January 15, 2011; Afe Adogame, “Contesting the ambivalences of modernity in a global context: The Redeemed Christian Church of God”, Studies in World Christianity, Volume 10, Page 25-48, 2004; Andrew Rice “Mission from Africa” The New York Times, April =8, 2009 accessed January 17, 2011.

[17] “Brotherhood of the Cross and Star. Christ Universal Spiritual School of Practical Christianity”. Accessed January 17, 2011

[18] See Chike Anigboh on the role played by Nigerian immigrant churches, Ibid, p. 257.

[19] Diouf-Kamara, S. “The Senegalese in New York: A Model Minority? / Senegalais De New York: Minorite Modele?” Black Renaissance / Renaissance Noir , 1 (2).

[20]There are limited studies on African immigrants regarding language maintenance. For some general discussion of the African immigrant situation, see the following works:  Lamba K. Navjot, M. M. (2000). Immigrants and Ethnic Minorities on the Praries: A Statistical Compedium. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: Prairie Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Integration.

[21]Okome, M. O. (2006). “Spinning an African Academy into the World Wide Web: the Liberatory and Democratic Potential of African Scholarship in Cyberspace”; The Bridging the North-South Divide in Scholarly Communication on Africa: Threats and Opportunities in the Digital era Conference Conference. Leiden: The Netherlands Online <.PDF>. 2008-10-31

[22] For some discussion on Africans and the narcotic trade, see Ebbe, O. N. , 2003-08-16 “Drug trafficking, money laundering, and political-criminal nexus in Africa” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Atlanta Hilton Hotel, Atlanta, GA Online <.PDF>. Accessed 2008-10-23 from; Ronald V. Neal “Merchants of death target Africa” Africa Recovery, Vol.12#1 (August 1998), page 7; Baynham, S. (1995). “Narco-Trafficking in Africa: Security, Social and Economic Implications”. African Security Review , 4 (6).