Engaging The Moroccan American Diaspora‏

The development initiatives of so-called ‘diasporas’ have gained the attention of policy-makers, scholars, NGOs, and migrants themselves. Migrants and ‘diasporas’ are seen as agents of development, who not only remit money to their countries of origin, but also transfer ideas of political, social, and cultural change.

 

The diaspora isn’t only remitting, they are also returning to launch enterprises and run businesses that stimulate local economies and create employment. More and more we see young Moroccans who have been educated abroad return to launch successful businesses in their country of origin. I think the discourse around diaspora engagement should focus on how those 1st and 2nd generation Moroccans in the United States who can become more politically engaged to better shape public policy that will create an environment that facilitates positive change.

 

There are a variety of ways to politically engage the Moroccan diaspora in the United States : from enfranchisement to representation in national assemblies and legislatures. Right now, Morocco allow for its diaspora to vote abroad. The Moroccan government should capitalize on the financial and intellectual resources of the diaspora and use political enfranchisement as a tool to give those abroad a sense of civic responsibility and ownership of the nation building process. Incentivize them to contribute their time, energy, resources and skills to address the problems on ground. The fact is that while many are returning, many others have been, and will continue to be, seduced by the relative ease and comfort of life in “the United States”.

 

Countries that don’t make a concerted effort to maintain a sense of national/cultural identity and responsibility among this population, and create the foundation for engaging the diaspora in a positive way, risk losing future generations of would-be change makers to the assimilative societies of more developed nations. Make no mistake the diaspora is not Morocco’s salvation. There needs to be a collaborative effort between those based abroad and those based within the country to address issues, transform systems and achieve mutually beneficial goals. One of the big questions I have is how people at home, across all socio-economic levels, view the importance or relevance of the diaspora in governance and change in the country? How can we achieve coordination between these two groups – and where does political participation come into play?

 

An overseas community can serve as an important ‘bridge’ to access knowledge, expertise, resources and markets for the development of the country of origin. The success of this bridge is often predicated upon two conditions: the ability of the Diaspora to develop and project a coherent, intrinsically motivated and progressive identity and the capacity of the home country to establish conditions and institutions for sustainable, symbiotic and mutually rewarding engagement. Morocco is now beginning to recognize the need to pursue and promote the dynamic of the Diaspora to permit it to contribute effectivey to the socio-economic development of their own country. For this to happen, an intellectual elite within this diaspora should take the lead to coordinate all the efforts deployed by Moroccan American NGOs who strive to promote Morocco within the United States but at the same time to promote United States in Morocco.

SAID TEMSAMANI