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Why are white people expats when the rest of us are immigrants?

Reading this at a time when I'm still savouring the pages of Chimamanda Adichie's Americanah, only opens my eyes once again to unending issue of White Privilege. This is a very interesting question, one that I'm certain must have arbitrarily flitted through my mind once or twice but which I never gave much thought to. Have you ever thought about it; why white people are Expats and the others "immigrants"? Read this The Guardian article below and tell us what you think. 

In the lexicon of human migration there are still hierarchical words, created with the purpose of putting white people above everyone else. One of those remnants is the word “expat”.

What is an expat? And who is an expat? According to Wikipedia, “an expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of the person’s upbringing. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (‘out of’) and patria (‘country, fatherland’)”. 
Defined that way, you should expect that any person going to work outside of his or her
country for a period of time would be an expat, regardless of his skin colour or country. But that is not the case in reality; expat is a term reserved exclusively for western white people going to work abroad. 
Africans are immigrants. Arabs are immigrants. Asians are immigrants. However, Europeans are expats because they can’t be at the same level as other ethnicities. They are superior. Immigrants is a term set aside for ‘inferior races’. 
Don’t take my word for it. The Wall Street Journal, the leading financial information magazine in the world, has a blog dedicated to the life of expats and recently they featured a story ‘Who is an expat, anyway?’. Here are the main conclusions: 
“Some arrivals are described as expats; others as immigrants; and some simply as migrants. It depends on social class, country of origin and economic status. It’s strange to hear some people in Hong Kong described as expats, but not others. Anyone with roots in a western country is considered an expat … Filipino domestic helpers are just guests, even if they’ve been here for decades. Mandarin-speaking mainland Chinese are rarely regarded as expats … It’s a double standard woven into official policy.”

The reality is the same in Africa and Europe. Top African professionals going to work in Europe are not considered expats. They are immigrants. Period. 
“I work for multinational organisations both in the private and public sectors. And being black or coloured doesn’t gain me the term “expat”. I’m a highly qualified immigrant, as they call me, to be politically correct,” says an African migrant worker. 
Most white people deny that they enjoy the privileges of a racist system. And why not? But our responsibility is to point out and to deny them these privileges, directly related to an outdated supremacist ideology. 
If you see those “expats” in Africa, call them immigrants like everyone else. If that hurts their white superiority, they can jump in the air and stay there. The political deconstruction of this outdated worldview must continue. 


  1. Lmho at they can jump in the air and stay there. It's the same racial, ethnic & social class divide in practice from the beginning of time. No surprises there. The world will get better is our eternal prayer.

  2. Alas!!! The problem with us as African's is that we worship every darn thing that comes from the western divide, even when it's obviously total bull sh**.

    Until we begin to appreciate ourselves and dignify our selves, the status quo is bound to remain.

    Let's first emancipate our selves from the mental slavery that holds us bound.

  3. Alas!!! The problem with us as African's is that we worship every darn thing that comes from the western divide, even when it's obviously total bull sh**.

    Until we begin to appreciate ourselves and dignify our selves, the status quo is bound to remain.

    Let's first emancipate our selves from the mental slavery that holds us bound.

  4. As much as the writer raised factual points, we cannot deny the obvious. The Wall Street Journal mentioned that the terms used on different races are dependent on social status, country of origin and economic status.

    Till we get the basics/fundamentals of running a society the right way by ourselves, we'd continue to see ourselves in an inferior way as compared to the western world. I'd bet that the average Nigerian moving to/working in South Africa or Ghana would more likely be termed an immigrant but I doubt the reverse would hold.

    I feel we shouldn't strive for nominal equality when intrinsically we as a nation have made mockery and continue to make mockery of ourselves through substandard daily living (lack of electricity, health care, education, infrastructure, law and order etc).

    When we get the basics right, naturally we'd be accorded due respect in appellations. That's the way things are done and not vice versa.

    P:S - I believe all men are born equal and they should all be treated equally with respect to dignity.

  5. Have you seen the way Nigerians treat these expatriate as against fellow Nigerians? compare with the way Nigerian's are treated abroad ? Like Clare said, we have to emancipate ourselves first SMH. j

  6. Lol @'they can jump in d air and stay there'. It's sad that Africans have accepted the fact that they're inferior bcos of our skin colour, rather than disagree with the term. it's too bad that this has always been the case since the beginning of time ,and mental slavery has been the order of the day. Sadly, Our economy doesn't even help issues at all in proving the world wrong. Oh well!..We can only pray that things get better.

  7. When they come here, its to help us better our companies and economy, but when we go there oys for greener pastures

  8. Lmao at this rant. I am black and i was an expatriate.

    The writer needs to get themselves together. Migrating to canada to live and gaining access because you are a nurse etc makes you a highly skilled migrant. Going to Canada from your home country attached to a company while still paying taxes etc in you home contract and returning after your contract makes you an expatriate. Big fat difference.

    Baseless write up.

    1. Exactly...
      Being sent by company to work in a foreign country don't make u an immigrant but going to hustle in a foreign country makes u one.
      Now if ur intimidated by someone's skin color,that one is on you...

  9. On second thought if the writer was to say Nigerians treat foreigners way better than they treat us, i am inclined to agree.

    My mother has a spousal visa in Nigeria, there is nothing expatriate about that despite her being a foreigner. And yes she gets treated better than even my father most times. Call it colonial mentality or reverse racism, its one of those phrases.

    Not all Oyinbo people in Nigeria are expatriate abeg.

  10. Like Miss Pynk said in her 1st comment, I know some Nigerians who are working in Oil servicing companies abroad as "expatriates" but just a few days ago, Kabuoy and I were trying to figure out if they pay them in our Naira or dollars. Isn't that what happens? You go and work outside your country and you get paid in your national currency?

    Anywaiz, I don't think about such things often.


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