Diaspora Africa is an independent media organisation dedicated to highlighting stories that centre on the movement of Africans, exploring the intersections between immigration, gender, education, climate change, refugee politics, LGBTQ+ rights and social inclusion. Through data collection, solutions journalism, and evidence-based research, Diaspora Africa is documenting the nuances and dynamics of immigration and remodelling immigration reporting across Africa.

Diaspora Africa comes at a time when immigration issues require urgent attention. The organisation wants to use stories and experiences of African immigrants to drive policy and reforms related to immigrants themselves and the spaces they exist in. The group is committed to producing immigration-related content that is unbiased and non-discriminatory.

Chimee Adioha, co-founder at Diaspora Africa, has over five years of experience in writing and working across a variety of digital media sectors. Adioha has worked for a human rights policy and research organisation in Lagos, Nigeria and has consulted for UNAIDS as a communications lead, designing and implementing communications strategies that serve young people working in the global AIDS response.


1. You are a writer with extensive experience in the media industry and are currently a PhD student in English. What inspired you to become a writer?  


It was not an inspiration, but through reading I wanted to experiment whether that was reading different genres or writing my own stories. I grew up with a lot of reading materials around and my family home was full of books, and I would try to imitate what I had read in books. As I grew older, I wrote more about everyday life, such as my first visit to Lagos or my father’s new car. Newspapers and books were readily available, and as I continued to write, I gradually grew closer to writing, which provided me with a sense of peace and progress. It became clear that writing was my calling, and it would be safe to surround myself with that industry or any industry similar.


2. Diaspora Africa was founded on the premise of documenting stories of African immigrants to drive policy shifts. What encouraged you to choose African migration as an area of focus? 


My co-founder [Amaka Obioji] and I first started having conversations about migration in early 2017. We were aware of migration and its impact but we did not feel its impact until we left Nigeria to live in different countries. When I moved to the United States in 2021, it was personal, particularly when words such as  ‘alien’ were being used to describe immigrants or temporary residents in documents. It is very easy to label a foreigner as ‘illegal’ even when they are legal because of how they look, their hair, or their accent. The media has played a role in how African migrants are negatively perceived and at Diaspora Africa we not only want to record and document African immigration, but we want to know and understand how and why Africans are moving, how many people are moving, and most times, very sadly, how many people get to their destination. We want to understand the impact of these movements as well as use our data and journalism to counter negative stereotyping of African migrants on the African continent. 


3. Diaspora Africa aims to document and drive policy changes. What policies are you hoping will change as a result of your work? 

The United Nations, the African Union, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have received recommendations on migration policies for African countries. Most of those recommendations suggested comprehensive migration research and data, political participation of the diaspora, free movement policies, the establishment of more diaspora institutions, skills transfer facilitation, as well as the facilitation of financial transfers. However, most African countries do not have adequate migration policies, while other countries’ policies are waiting to be processed or under review. Many of the policies are kept from the public, however, these policies need to be made public, available and accessible as these policies are supposed to make immigration beneficial and enhance diaspora engagement. 

Through our work, we are interested in examining the engagement of the African diaspora with their home countries and looking at how these countries value or benefit from their diaspora. It is important to note that the African diaspora population is supposed to serve as a resource centre for development and skills and a huge asset in cases of political uproar and advocacy pressure in their country. We think African governments need to improve or innovate strategic, sustainable migration policies only when they connect and meaningfully engage their diaspora.

These policies should be viewed as a triangle: institution, diaspora, and migration. Most importantly we have noticed that immigration policies continue to be restrictive across the world and it has negatively impacted Africans. It is also important to encourage transnational commitment and relationships between countries. We are looking at those countries where there has been an abuse of rights and neglect especially towards African migrants and are using innovative storytelling techniques, evidence-based data journalism and research to encourage relevant authorities to rethink their actions. 


4. Funding a business comes with its challenges. What advice would you give to an upcoming media entrepreneur on how to fund their business or idea? 


People have different ways and means to survive and make their businesses work and you may have great ideas but sadly you need money to create a business. The important thing with a business is to do the work, if that means you need to stay up all night to write a report, do that. Diaspora Africa is self-funded because we felt that African immigration was urgent and needed to be reported on, and we wanted to start the work immediately. As a media entrepreneur, I would encourage entrepreneurs to focus on their work and their primary goal, whilst looking for funding.


5. What is your career highlight or a career-defining moment for you? 


Co-founding Diaspora Africa which has been the culmination of all the work I have done in the last seven years. 


6. It has been three months since you started Diaspora Africa. What have been some lessons you’ve learned? 


Three months have felt like three years, and it has been challenging as we all live and work in six different time zones and I have to run a newsroom that is fully remote and think about which stories to work on next. The lessons we have learned are from the stories we have explored and as we continue with the work we realise that immigrant stories and reporting are never-ending because people are constantly on the move. It’s been an expository journey for all of us on the team and you never really understand something until you get into it. That is what is happening to us now and it’s a journey we are looking forward to going on. 


 7. Where do you see Diaspora Africa in the coming years?  


We are committed to many things at this time, and one of them is producing immigration reporting that is unbiased, well-informed and non-discriminatory and that is the bedrock of our work. We believe that the stories we tell can be used to change perceptions, people and policies. 

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