Historical Mapping of the Global African Diaspora

When I made my first journey to Africa, eminent scholars who with the support of respected institutions studied African Americans as problems were insisting to us and proclaiming to others that we had no culture and definitely no African heritage.

My experiences in Cameroon demonstrated the contrary as well as teaching me about the existence of an African Diaspora in the Americas of which my own community was a part. I became a cultural anthropologist to learn more about Africa and this Diaspora.

After becoming aware in Cameroon of the African heritage and African Diasporan connections of my own African American community, I began, more than a decade later, to learn about our larger global presence from historian Dr. Joseph E. Harris, father of African Diaspora Studies.

Beginning with his groundbreaking research on the African presence in Asia, Dr. Harris created the African Diaspora map above. Throughout the 1980s he gave lectures based on the map, of which I attended as many as possible. Enough to make his map my vision of the world.

I was generally aware of the African Diaspora to the Americas. But I was amazed to see so many arrows going to places I had not imagined. The real shocks were those other arrows crossing not just the Atlantic Ocean to the west, but also crossing other seas and oceans to the north and east of the continent. My goal became to follow all those arrows to experience for myself the Global African Diaspora this map revealed.