diaspora, development, and dual citizenship
Last month, Malawi President Joyce Banda traveled to the UK and US to participate in international summits related to aid and development. During President Banda’s visit to the US, she spoke at a specially convened meeting of the Malawi Washington Association (MWA), an organization of the Malawian diaspora in the US.
There has been a lot of chatter recently about harnessing African diasporas to develop their home countries, and the MWA is no exception. The MWA discussion (at least as seen on the email listserv) focuses on the need for Malawi to offer dual citizenship. Here is a snippet from one such email conversation:
Dual citizenship is the best pathway for global competitiveness … capital, monetary and human can transfer easily from the Diaspora to the home country. The example of Israel underscores this fact. A small country like Israel would not have survived this long without all its citizens spread through out the world coming home to build and sending money home to help it keep it strong and the envy of its neighbors. The fact is everything humans do, translates into money/wealth. And the more they have the better able they are to share it with those they have a common cause…their countrymen. There is no better badge of patriotism than the will to succeed -on a global scale- for self and country.
In his introductory remarks during Joyce Banda’s meeting with the Malawian Diaspora in Washington DC, MWA president Eddie Naming’ona said,
For the past few years, the Malawi Washington Association, together with other Malawian organizations across the globe, have tried to advance a cause dearer to the Diaspora and for the benefit of Malawi, and that is Dual Citizenship. Even though we have not reached a stage to officially submit this proposal through the right channels and eventually to you, we hope that the Malawian Diaspora Office will be helpful in crafting a bill that will address this current lack of dual citizenship, an advantage that countries such as the United States and Israel have utilized to get the best out of its patriots spread across globe. We hope this office is an answer to many of our prayers.
(Read the full statement made by MWA’s president here.)
There is even a Facebook page: Campaign for Dual Citizenship for Malawians.
In a quick online scan for academic research relevant to African diaspora and development, I found mostly articles on remittances (though see this interesting piece on “Return Chiefs” in Ghana; also, the World Bank document linked above on diaspora and development has some discussion of dual citizenship). Do any haba na haba followers have reading recommendations on this topic?