Panel 35

Africans in diaspora and the Media

Panel organiser: Abiodun Salawu, Indigenous Language Media in Africa research entity, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, South Africa.


Africans do migrate across their continent and to other continents. Whether the migration is within the continent or outside the continent, African migrants are interested in happenings in their home countries. They are also interested in information within the migrant community in their host nation. To gratify these needs for information, they access media based in their homeland. The advent of the Internet has made this very possible as the African migrants can read newspapers published in their home countries online as well as also accessing broadcast media – radio and television – online. They do also visit blogsites covering events and personalities in their home countries. The diaspora Africans obtain information about their migrant communities through newspapers and magazines published by fellow migrants. Information is also made available through both online and terrestrial radio as well as through blogs. This panel seeks to interrogate how African migrants seek information about events in their home countries and within the migrant communities and how they make use of the information. It is also interested in how the migrants use the media to communicate and engage themselves and people in their homelands. The use of the diasporic media for identity formation as well as alternative channel within the host nation is also of interest.

Approved abstracts panel 35

1. Shaping the perception of African conflicts through framing: A case study of the African diasporic press in the UK

Author: Olatunji Ogunyemi, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln, UK.

Framing studies consistently conclude that the international news media represent African conflicts negatively and stereotypically. While some critics blamed it on framing devices and ‘Afriphobia’, another plausible reason is their preferred writing style. Owing to their focus on media content, most framing studies fail to examine the dynamic relationship between what journalists say they do and what they actually do. Using parallel content analysis, this study compares what African diaspora journalists write about African conflicts with what they say about them. The analysis reveals that they show more preference for factual style and governing frame, and less preference for judgmental style which align with what they say, and a slight preference for background context which marginally aligns with what they say. However, low newsroom budget and advertising revenue could undermine their news agenda to effectively de-westernise the portrayal of African conflicts.

Keywords: framing, role perception, diaspora journalists, African diasporic press, African conflicts.


2. Facebook’s group function as transnational public sphere for Zimbabwean diasporic communities

Author: Phillip Mpofu, Indigenous Language Media in Africa, North West University, Mafikeng Campus, South Africa.

Immigrants’ engagement in activities that connect them to their homelands, identity and culture issues, role of media in migration, and the representation and participation of immigrants in print and broadcast media, are some of the ubiquitous and contested questions in existing cultural, media and migrations studies. Evidently, these matters revolve around immigrants’ limited access to, and unfair representation in media outlets of host countries. However, the advent of the Internet, digital and social media has enabled these spatially displaced individuals in the diaspora to converge on online social networking sites and form linguistically and culturally bound communities. Against this background, this study critically interrogates the existence of online diasporic communities of Zimbabweans on the Facebook group function, and shows their function as alternative public sphere where linguistically, culturally and contextually relevant information is exchanged within the host countries and, to or from Zimbabwe. This study is an outcome of a netnographic study of seven Facebook groups of Zimbabweans in Dubai, United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia. Using content analysis, thematic analysis and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), the study critically analyses the thematic content of posts and discussions by group members in the selected online communities. The study deploys strands of alternative media and digital public sphere concepts. The study shows that social media is a significant alternative transnational public sphere for spatially dispersed diasporans that allows them to engage in transactional and transnational information and cultural exchange; in the process strategically adapting to life in the destination country, but remaining connected to their homeland cultural identities and life. However, due to the free entry and participation, the transnational public sphere lacks professional gatekeeping in monitoring social media content.

3. Diasporic Media and Identity Formation among African Academics Working in Foreign Universities

Author: Nnamdi T Ekeanyanwu, CIMARC Scholar, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK, SUSI Scholar, Ohio University, Athens, USA, Department of Communication ArtsUniversity of Uyo, Nigeria.


This paper reviews the media accessed by African academics working in foreign universities and how such media help in identity formation, team building and sub-group cohesiveness in an alien culture. Diasporic media are conceptualized in this paper as minority media that intersect between local, national and international media systems and cultures. They are mostly used for self expression in a hostile cultural space. This makes identity formation, which is the development of a distinct personality in an individual, a critical cultural issue on how African academics fit into job and socio-cultural roles in foreign universities. In essence, identity formation is discussed in this paper as the process that defines individuals to others and themselves thus helping such individuals to become better members of a sub-community and culture in a foreign environment that could be sometimes hostile. The critical argument pushed in the paper finds support in Eric Erickson’s theory of Psychosocial Development and James Marcia’s Identity Status theory. The study will use survey and in-depth interviews as methods to gather data from African scholars in the Diaspora. The survey will be virtual and interview by telephone and Skype. The data will suggest how Diasporic media help or frustrate identity formation among African academics in foreign universities and the implications of such outcome.

Keywords: Diasporic media, Identity formation, African academics, Foreign universities, Culture.

4. Exploring the Nature of Migration and Media Narratives in Ethiopia

Author: Mulatu Alemayehu Moges, Addis Ababa University.

As other Easter African countries, Ethiopia has currently faced immense crises in relation to migration and refugees. In fact, the nature of migration and refugees in Ethiopia is diverse. It can be explained in four different forms. First, the country is one of the main sources of migrants. In search of jobs and looking for better life as well security, many people especially the youth are largely fleeing to Europe, USA, Middle East, and South Africa. Various reports indicate that many of them have lost their lives while crossing the Sahara desert, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Indian Ocean before they reach their final destinations. Second, while the country is the main origin of migrants, paradoxically, Ethiopia is also the major host of refugees in Africa. Currently close to one million refugees who are migrated from Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, and South Sudan are getting shelters and other basic needs in various parts of the country. Thirdly, Ethiopia is presently the main transit to some migrants who come from the neighbouring countries. For instance, Somalis and Eritrean’s exiles use the country to stay for a while to process their migration to move out to the third countries. Lastly, there is high internal displacement of people in its many parts due to the current crises, such as internal conflicts, for instance, ethnic differences and scarce resources, and the population dynamics such as seasonal migration of pastoralists. This presentation, therefore, focuses on looking at the current migration trends, their nature in Ethiopia and their narratives in the local media, which gets scant attention to the current migration and media studies.

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