Immigrating, with Purpose: Who gets to go and who gets to stay…

African Millennial Concepts
4 min readAug 18, 2020

The idea of moving to another country?

In any form, when you move from a room to a house or a town or village to a city? The more dramatic idea of moving from a country you were born in to a country with a completely different culture and mindset is a story a lot of immigrants find themselves in. Common phrases, and really common scenarios for millennials… And even more common for the African immigrant who identifies as a millennial…

What is often not considered is the stage in a person’s life that a person takes on the title of immigrant. The global shift of millennials redefining who or what drives change and the redefinition of success for many millennials is closely associated to how they take on immigration. So many justifications, factors and scenarios that extend as far as life and death need to be included. There really are immeasurable points that shape life milestones; I could list down if I knew everyone reading this or affected by it.

Unfortunately, that would alter the meaning of a read-bite and have you scrolling for hours.

The idea of moving far and wide appeals to some people; the explorers, the searchers and the exiled, alienated and fleeing. It may have something to do with greener grass and a phrase about it being inserted here somewhere as a quote.

However, the flip-side of it, being comfortable and close to family appeals to different people as well; the obligated, the changers, the leaders, the responsible and the stuck, the helpless and vulnerable. Another phrase about watering the grass where you stay should be quoted here.

One thing is true, these scenarios affect the African millennial; more than you think. Searching for one’s happiness and the bravery to create it at will in one’s life may require a move. For others the social validation from your parents or the figures in one’s life are the motivation behind taking on an immigration .

Yes, them bragging home about you to everyone who asks about you when they meet anyone who is willing to listen. It is a legitimate millennial immigration reason, trust me.

This is actually not unique to Africans, it is an everybody ‘thing’ I am finding.

At this point, you probably don’t believe me. There really has to be other relevant points that are more important and justifiable for a milestone movement; like politics, social security, certainty of income, economic drive, domestic judicial systems, lack of resources or access to them, etc.

All of which I’ve categorised into three; the community perception, relationship outlook, and the individual’s own experience. The joys, advantages, sorrows, and lows that constitute the trade-offs made per category when immigration is discussed are below.

Do follow along to get your worth of a 3 minute read-bite on the three topics.

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading

— Laozi or Lao Tzu, Chinese monist philosopher

  1. Individual: Self care vs Values. Principles and Morals. African Millennials have had tough parenting engraved into their culture. Cultural context often shapes your perspective and the metrics that influence the idea of success and failure. Respect for your parents is most commonly linked to religion and social appearance alongside socially enforced norms are the mines and grenades that African Millennials find themselves navigating around.
  2. Relationships: The Inter-personal Entanglements. When do you say no and yes to people who you ideally would like as friends but do not see as family? It’s a difficult but enlightening journey for anyone; it builds character and shapes one’s being. Imagine a mix of this conflict with professional growth, academic achievements and pivotal life figures taking the stumbling fall from heroes. The drink you have prepared in this swirl of imagination is basically a life cocktail.
  3. Community: The village that raised you. Any African can point out places, pivotal landmarks, songs, events where their own fortune met luck for any opportunity they were given. What is central to our culture is people, story telling and ways of making meaning of the actions that we never forget in our lives. When we could not believe our circumstances having no way out are definitely moments that prompt a change; a move. Growth as a community, as a people, is fundamental to any African, the steps taken behind by people from our past, afford us the future we yearn for. The phrase ‘Ubuntu’ means ‘humanity’. A saying of linkage of a people towards each other.

With that said, African parents continually guide, monitor and imprint their experience and visions onto their kids, regardless of age. I’ll say it again because it’s factual for me, regardless of age. The African millennial can sometimes be at the mercy of their parents’ perspective for years. They also happen to be the only people that an African millennial can turn to when they have nowhere else to go and feel lost in the corner of the vast world they move to.

Because at the end of every story, like that of humankind, there was a beginning.