Tijani writes, saying that this subject is causing great concerns that he can no longer sleep well:

The dialogue about "homecoming" has been interesting and amusing. I
read, think, slept over it, and came to the conclusion that we have
been one-sided in our thought. I'm not dismissing the "Aggreys" or
"Azikiwes" of the Diaspora. I'm not pretending about the relevance of
the past... citing the good deeds of notable Africans that returned to
the continent in the past. However, we have to look at the context. The
context, time, and parameters are totally different. Comparing Azikiwe
or Aggrey to a Master or Doctoral degree holder from the United States,
Britain, or any western university in postcolonial Africa does not
reflect the ideal context. There are many reasons for the fresh
graduates not to return and we all are familiar with such reasons. In
fact, those who graduated from western universities in the 1960s and
1970s are not only disappointed about "homegoing" but are disappointed
about returning. This is the truth. The attitudes of colleagues back
"home" in most cases is totally unreceptive. Let me share a personal
travail. I was educated in Nigeria and began teaching at a State
University in 1989 after a year in one of the Colleges of Education in
the then Gongola State. Between 1994 and 1997 I was a Commonwealth
scholar pursuing a higher degree in London. I was approved for study
leave, but discovered that I was not paid while abroad (because some
folks believe I now earn pounds sterling and make a lot). I returned in
early 1996 to conduct a fieldwork as part of the dissertation. I was
informed that the University had recently been given computers by
UNESCO and should not border to bring a laptop (which of course I
couldn't afford as at the period)... Good news? I arrived with the hope
of smooth and easy days ahead. But guess what, my days were rough to
borrow late Pa Solarin's words. I was told I cannot use the computer
facilities because I belong to history department. A senior colleague
told me that I should have brought my own computer, at least "you are
making lots of pounds sterling" in his words. The head of Computer
Engineering bluntly told me to pay a fee before he can allow me to use
the facility. I eventually paid and was told the clerk opens the room
at 9 am. The clerk was never there throughout my three months by 9 am
as advertised. And when I complained I was threatened and dehumanized.
I was instructed by someone on campus to be careful as many folks did
not like the fact that one of their pioneering students (now a
colleague) won a prestigious scholarship to complete a higher degree
abroad. That is just a bit about my personal encounter. I believe we
all have stories to tell. I'm not against anyone going back "home". But
the truth is, this is home (the US) although my heritage of course is
Nigeria. Did anyone notice that no academic colleague from "home" has
written to support the idea of "homecoming" or un-necessary
glorification of "Aggreyian" or "Azikiwean" models in contemporary
time? The truth is most of them would curse you, stop writing to you or
acknowledge your letter if you raise the idea. I have tried it before,
and the comments was "you must have lost your mind or you do not have
papers to stay any longer." Homecoming is for the older folks thinking
about retiring. They must think twice however given the local situation
in different parts of Africa. I don't think going back to the so called
home would resolve any endemic issue or problem. But I think assisting,
facilitating, and networking with colleagues in Africa is suffice.
Apart from association conferences, institutional conference such as
the annual Africa conference by Professor Falola, and the recently
organized Global Conference by Professor Adebayo (Kennesaw State) are
excellent foray for scholarship and networking. Does anyone in his/her
right mind think Professor Falola would have been able to provide free
accommodation for three/four days during a conference for about 200 or
250 scholars from all over the world at Ife? Or assist young scolars in
developing academic skills through many of his initiatives at Ife? Some
would folks would have alleged by now that he has "chopped" the fund.
Or does anyone think that Professor Adebayo would have been able to
start an annual conference at Kennesaw? Or Would Professor Jalloh
(UT-Arlington) being able to begin an Africa Program had he returned to
Fourah Bay? You cannot solve the mega problems confronting the academia
by returning "home", period. You can assist in alleviating their
problems by creating fora such as Profs Falola, Jalloh, Adebayo etc. Or
e-mail fellowship and conferences notices to them as I have been doing
despite my own personal travails until recently. How many of those
folks in Africa in their hearts of hearts want us to come back "Home"?

Hakeem Ibikunle Tijani
Assistant Professor of History
Department of Social Sciences,
Henderson State University,
Box 7771, Arkadelphia, AR 71999-0001