I stumbled across a fascinating documentary on the Caribbean diaspora experience entitled Forward Home: The Power of the Caribbean Diaspora.
Directed and co-produced by the Trinidadian media specialist Lisa Wickham, the film covers a range of topics including how the internet and other forms of new media help diaspora communities connect with those back home and shines some much needed light on the significance of the Caribbean’s diaspora to their nations of origin.
One of the interviewees cites an interesting statistic that on a per capita basis the level of remittances that the Caribbean receives is among the highest in the world. It’s small wonder that the argument is made that Caribbean economies need to be reconsidered to include global economies in Europe and North America.
Consider the fact that 87 per cent of Grenadian who complete tertiary education emigrate to cities such as Toronto, New York and London. Their linkages with domestic economies are of key importance. (The significance of the barrel could be worth a blog post in itself).
The documentary raises important questions as to how Caribbean nations can capitalise on the diaspora economy. When you’re away from home the world becomes your oyster – you can hop on a plane to Mexico or take a train ride to Paris for a fraction of the price that it takes to return to the Caribbean.
It seems that like them or loath them the diaspora do need to be marketed to, enticed and planned for. Keith Nurse, director of the Shridath Ramphal Centre at the University of the West Indies gives a great take on the value of the ‘diaspora tourist’:
“This target market provides a crossover into other target markets. Through people’s linkages, their colleagues, their friends etc, they are able to bring other people into the Caribbean space so that they enjoy it in a more authentic way and in a more meaningful way. So diaspora tourists are like our Trojan horses; they provide us with an in into various market spaces which probably wouldn’t be accessible to us otherwise.”