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Sudanese Diaspora in Canada Essay

Sudanese Diaspora

Most of the Sudanese living in Canada went there in the year 1980 in search for refuge after their country was involved in a political turmoil (Yossi & Barth, 2003).However, prior to that, there was a small percentage of the Sudanese who had gone to Canada so as to pursue their studies and for work. This study shall discuss how the Sudanese live in Canada and how they relate with their home country.

Sudan being a very large country is very diverse in terms of its culture, and affiliations. Thus, the Sudanese in Canada can not claim to have common beliefs, attitudes or practices , language (Orlando, 1994).As a result of this, the Sudanese in Canada end up grouping themselves in relation to “their geographic origin, ethnicity and cultural practices” (Nigel & Dawson, 1998).

The Sudanese in Canada group themselves depending on whether they come from North Sudan or South Sudan (Yossi & Barth, 2003). For instance, you will find that in the Western part of Canada, more Southerners are located there while the northerners are located in the central Part of Canada (Yossi & Barth, 2003). You will also find that the northerners and southerners hardly mix, apart from “in one metropolitan centre called Winnipeg” (Nigel & Dawson, 1998).

Although the Sudanese in Canada usually have different ethnic affiliations, they do come together whenever there are issues to do with politics of their home country and the like. It is also important to note that people in Canada usually have different religious beliefs.

Some are “Muslims, others are Christians and Copts” (Hall, 1989).Thus, you will find Sudanese in Canada grouping themselves depending on their religious beliefs. The places of worship usually serve as good venues whereby the Sudanese can meet and even organize community activities. In general, we can say that the diverse nature of the Sudanese determines the groupings of the Sudanese, though at times, the groups’ come together so as to address matters of political interests in their home country.

According to Orlando (1994) most of the Sudanese in Canada have occupied large metropolitan cities. In Ottawa, there are several Sudanese offices. Here, most of the Sudanese are either employed by the government ,pursuing their studies or are working in the Arabic embassies (Orlando, 1994).Most of the Sudanese in Canada are concentrated in Toronto (Orlando, 1994).

Most of the Sudanese who live in Toronto are usually refugees who are supported by the government. Among the reasons that make Toronto the preferred city for refugees include: presence of large job market, family connections and the fact that Toronto practices “multiculturalism” (Orlando, 1994). In Hamilton, most Sudanese who live there were initially refugees but over time, they were able to earn a gainful employment. Orlando (1994) notes that both the “southerners and the northerners” are present in Hamilton.

The Sudanese who went to Canada as “refugees or immigrants several years ago are more integrated into the Canadian system than those who went there recently” (Kenneth, 2002). In Canada, one needs to have gained lots of experience in their country set-up so as to be employed.

Thus, those well educated Sudanese who arrived recently can not compete successfully with those Sudanese who are not very well educated but those who haves been in Canadian employment set-up for some time. The lack of employment for the newly arrived Sudanese in Canada explains the reason as to why there is need for community based organizations that helps in integrating the Sudanese into the Canadian system.

It’s important to note that the Sudanese in Canada maintain very close ties with their relatives in their home country (Tettey & Pumplampu, 2005). This is because most of the Sudanese who are in Canada were brought up in Sudan, before they migrated to Canada.

Thus, you will find the Sudanese in Canada striving hard to assist their relatives back at home with finances. The Sudanese in Canada organize on how to build education centres and community-based programs that are aimed at improving the standards of living of their relatives back at home.

The Sudanese in Canada stay abreast of the happenings in their home countries by closely following the Sudan news on “Sudan TV” (Kenneth, 2002). All that the viewers require is a satellite dish so as to enable them to get the news clearly.

By watching this television, the Sudanese in Canada are also able to maintain close ties with their home culture. They are also able to associate themselves with certain political parties in their home countries through a close follow up of the news and events.

The Sudanese in Canada have been able to “use ethnicity for instrumental purpose” (Tettey & Puplampu, 2005). This in other words means that “Diaspora communities have appealed to ethnicity or nationalism as a means of mobilizing financial, political and diplomatic supports for causes in their homelands” (Tettey & Pumplampu, 2005). According to Tettey & Pumplampu (2005) Sudanese in Canada frequently organize forums and groups with the sole purpose of ensuring that the larger Canadian society develops interest in the political growth of their mother country.

An example of this was in the year 2003, when a statement that was aimed at condemning the visit by Sudan’s foreign affairs minister to Canada was issued by Ottawa (Tettey & Pumplampu, 2005). It is also important to note that the political actions of Sudanese living in Canada are not solely controlled by the government of Canada, as at times, the policies in Canada could turn out to be very unfavorable to be followed by the Sudanese people.

An example of this can be seen in a case that occurred in the year 2000, whereby “the Federation of Sudanese Canadian Association organized nation wide protests against the Canadian government’s decision not to sanction Taliman’s Energy for activities in Sudan”(Tettey & Pumplampu, 2005). The Sudanese in Canada claimed that the government of Canada was in favor of an oppressive regime, that’s why there was such an act of omission.

Political activists in Canada have also “targeted non-state actors whose activities focus on the domestic politics of home countries” (Tettey & Pumplampu, 2005). For instance, Sudanese in Canada one time organized campaigns with civil society groups and individuals that would lead to the closure of an energy company.

The Sudanese in Canada try as much as possible to associate themselves with their people at home and even try to lead lifestyles like of those people in the home countries. However, this is not always possible as they have distinct characteristics with the people at home because of the environment.

Tettey & Pumplampu (2005) notes that when most Sudanese travel back to their home countries, they go back to Canada frustrated because of the attitudes and behaviors that they find in their countries(Lal & Kumar, 2007). Some examples of these behaviors and attitudes that make the Sudanese in Canada frustrated when they go back home include “corruption, lax attitudes towards work, and absence of rule of law” ”(Tettey & Pumplampu, 2005).

The amount of culture shock experienced by the Sudanese living in diasporas is usually too much because of their location in an “in between space and double consciousness”(Gilroy, 1993).As much as these Sudanese may feel strongly attached to their homes, they come to realize that the environment that surrounds them and that which surrounds their home of origin are totally different.

The other major challenge that Sudanese in Canada face is caused by the adoption of American culture by Africans (Seteney, 1998). Nowadays, you find that most Africans have adopted the western culture of living. The irony here is that while the Sudanese in Canada are busy teaching their children the traditional Sudanese culture, people at home are trying to adopt the American lifestyles.

This has been brought about by “cultural globalization” (Tettey & Pumplampu, 2005). What happens eventually is that children of parents in diasporas suffer from cognitive dissonance when they visit Sudan, their home country and fail to see the Sudanese culture that they have always been taught. The children also struggle a lot to behave in the Sudanese way as they are taught by their parents since they lack models to emulate because the parents themselves do not live lifestyles worth of emulating.

The other area that causes cultural disconnect among the Sudanese in Canada when they go back to their country is in the area of dressing and attitudes. According to Tettey & Pumplampu (2005) there is “the African setting in public institutions and conspicuous display of status.

”In Sudan, people “wear suits and other formal wears to show status” (Tettey & Pumplampu, 2005). For the Sudanese in Canada, they behave in accordance with the informal culture of the Canadian society.Thus, they do not bother to put on formal attires while attending important meetings or in offices. When the Sudanese in Canada visit their home country with their informal attires, they are treated as less important people, since their attires do not show that they are important people.

This brings a lot of controversy because for the Sudanese in Canada, wearing a suit and a tie in the African weather would look ridiculous (Tettey & Pumplampu, 2005). Another issue that makes the Sudanese from diasporas to feel demeaned in their own country is the way the Sudanese at home treat the whites. For instance, a white from Canada who appears in formally dressed is not treated in the same way as a Sudanese who comes from the same country, as he is regarded to be of status due to the skin color.

Currently, most Sudanese in Canada have dual citizen ship. This is aimed at ensuring that these Sudanese maintain their rights of being regarded as citizens of their home country while at the same time, being citizens in Canada. The Sudanese in Canada claim that they should be accorded the rights and privileges that result due to their representation of their home country in Canada.

In conclusion, a majority of Sudanese who live in Canada went their initially as refugees. Sudanese in Canada group themselves on the basis of geographical location, ethnic groups as well as religions. Most parents try to teach their children the Sudanese culture with little or no success because the children lack people to emulate and whenever they visit their home country, they experience cognitive dissonance because the Sudanese at home have adopted the American styles of living. The Sudanese in Canada usually influence the Canadian government when it comes to making decisions on political and diplomatic relations with Sudan.


Gilroy, P. (1993). The black Atlantic: modernity and double consciousness. New York: Verso.

Hall, S. (1989). Cultural identity and cinematic representation. London: Routledge.

Kenneth, T. (2002). Border crossings and diasporic identities: media use and leisure practices of an ethnic minority. London: Thomson learning.

Lal, M. & Kumar, S. P. (2001). Interpreting home in South Asian literature. Yan: Pearson education.

Nigel, R. & Dawson, A. (1998). Migrants of identity: perception of home in a world of movement. Oxford: Berg

Orlando, P. (1994). Ecumenical America: Global culture and the American Cosmos. World policy journal, 11(2), 103-17.

Seteney, S. (1998). Cercassian encounters: the self as other and the production of the homeland in Northern Caucasus. New York: Oxford University Press.

Tettey, W. & Pumplampu, K.P. (2005). The African diaspora in Canada: negotiating identity and belonging. Calgary: University of Calgary press.

Yossi, S. & Barth, A. (2003).Diaspora and international relations theory: International organization. New York: Oxford University Press.

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