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Africa: Researcher Discusses How Digital Materials Used to Assert Diasporic Consciousness of Proposed Afro-Brazilian Diaspora

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Africa: Researcher Discusses How Digital Materials Used to Assert Diasporic Consciousness of Proposed Afro-Brazilian Diaspora

In a very attentive and interactive symposium – the Gambian Cultural Heritage Going Digital organised by the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) and its German partners, the University of Hamburg and the Gerda Henkel Foundation, Oluwatoyin Mbachu, a PhD candidate at King’s College London whose research investigates the contemporary discourse that exists between the Nigerian Aguda and their Afro-Latin counterparts: Black Brazil and Cuba discussed the digital materials used to assert ‘diasporic’ consciousness as part of a proposed Afro Brazilian Diaspora.

The three days international symposium on oral history was held at the Senegambia Beach Hotel where scholars from different countries attended. At least 20 academic papers by scholars from the Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Nigeria, USA, UK, Italy and Germany made the forum a truly international academic session.

Researcher Mbachu said the term ‘digital diaspora’ has been employed by Laguerre (2010) to describe the use of IT connectivity by real-life diasporas to engage in virtual interactions for various political, economic, social, religious and communicational purposes that may mainly concern the ‘homeland,’ the ‘host land,’ or the diasporic groups’ trajectory abroad.

This virtual discourse may occur between members of the same diasporic group living in the same foreign country or diasporic members across the globe. However, Mbachu noted that “the internet becomes another site in which disaporic consciousness can be experienced without the constraints of borders and distance.”

“This is evident in the case of the Lagosian Aguda community that has asserted diasporic consciousness physically and has begun to engage with their community worldwide with the aid of the internet and digital technology.”

Given that digital diasporas mirror their real-life counterparts, she related the real-life diasporic situation of the Lagosians Aguda before discussing how they asserted diasporic consciousness in the physical realm and mirrored this in the virtual sphere.

Situating the Lagosian Aguda within the Afro-Brazilian Diaspora, she said despite their transatlantic history, the Afro-Latin heritage of the Nigerian Aguda is not as commonly known as the historic Yoruba influence on the Afro-Latin community.

Despite little discussion about the contemporary diasporic experience of the Lagosian Aguda, she disclosed that her investigation has shown that such interactions between this community and Afro-Brazil appear to still exist today and have been facilitated by digital technology.