Italian emigration to the African continent has always been very limited. Even during the colonial period the flow was a trickle in comparison with the trend of other western Countries.

Between 1876 and 1976 some 460,000 Italians emigrated to Africa, a figure which is approximately only 2% of the total of emigrants (Favero-Tassello, 1978, page 12.)

Table 2.1 - Italians emigrated in Africa (1876 - 1976)

           Period                 Emigrants              %        

        1876 - 1900                 91,046              1.7       

        1901 - 1915                146,920              1.6       

        1916 - 1942                133,324              3.0       

        1946 - 1961                 52,375              1.1       

        1962 - 1976                 36,477              1.2       

Source: Favero-Tassello, 1978

As one may note the two periods of main emigration to Africa coincided with the conquest of the colonial territories. In the first fifteen years of this century the highest flows are recorded. Nevertheless it is significant to note that between the two wars the percentage of the arrivals reached 3% of the total emigration. It is a known fact that during the fascist period, emigration suffered a strong decline, but the flows towards the colonial territories in Africa were encouraged. After the Second World War emigration to Africa suffered a drastic reduction and in recent years reached the values reported in Table 2.2. It is evident that the main migratory destinations continued to be other European countries and the American Continent. The flows towards Oceania were also notable, while the movements towards Africa and Asia were only marginal.

Table 2.2 - Consistency of the Italian communities abroad - 1975-1985

Area                       1975         1980         1985    % (1985) 

Europe                2,352,148    2,243,708    2,169,811       43.68 

Asia                     18,537       22,701       19,479        0.39 

Africa                  106,061      110,559       95,333        1.92 

America               2,445,870    2,340,959    2,139,266       43.06 

Oceania                 303,803      450,582      544,124       10.95 

Total                 5,226,419    5,168,509    4,968,013         100 

Source: Elaboration on data Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The size of the Italian communities in the different continents confirms the preference for Europe, America and Oceania of our emigrants. Only 2% of the Italians abroad favour the African continent and this percentage has remained substantially unchanged.

In fact it was 3.03% in 1911 (out of a total of 5,805,126 Italians abroad) and 2.06% in 1927 (9,168,867.) The phenomenon is even more limited if we take into account only the geographical area of south east Africa where Tanzania is located, as clearly shown in Figure 2.1.

In fact Italian communities in African countries seldom exceed one thousand persons. The main Italian communities in Africa are situated in some of the North African countries (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia) or in those countries of the sub Saharan area with a developed economic structure (Nigeria and South Africa). For the countries of south east Africa the estimates of consistency are shown in Figure 2.1.

Figure 2.1 - Consistency of the Italian communities in Africa (1986/87)

Italians in Africa

Source: Elaboration on data Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Apart from South Africa, the Italian presence is limited to a few thousand people. The first possible observation is that in all the countries the presence of our fellow-countrymen presents a negative trend. It has to be underlined that looking at Table 2.3 in three countries out of the seven , the total size of the Italian community is about one thousand. Such a coincidence may cause us to have reservations about the validity of the data provided by our consulates and embassies (2) that consists in the expatriation of "workers, technical employees and also managers and entrepreneurs, for a limited period of time, directed in new areas with regard to the classical migration flows of the past" (Bacchetta-Cagiano 1990, page 16).

In actual fact while the "permanent" Italian community, meaning those resident fellow-countrymen who have established their main intererests in the country, has decreased, the "technological" emigration has become progressively the main component of our community in Tanzania. Such a change in the composition has always made it more difficult to calculate its precise consistency. In fact the "technological" emigration, because of its nature, is not always easy to verify.

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