Pedro Alonso Niño, a Spaniard of Africa descent, served as the captain of Christopher Columbus's ship on his voyage to the Americas in 1492. The first slave ship to Africa was called Jesus of Lubeck. It belonged to Queen Elizabeth I of England who, in 1540, hired it out to John Hawkins. Hawkins led voyages to Africa and the West Indies to acquire slaves. That is how the forced migration of Africans out of Africa to the west began.
Africans' contact with the rest of the world dates long before the advent of Christopher Columbus. There are three recorded Popes of the Catholic church who were Africans. They led the church from Rome in the early days of Christianity. Pope Victor I served for 11 years, Pope Miltiades served for four years. Pope Gelasius was African but was born in Rome. All the three former African Popes are saints.
Today, there are about 350 million Africans in the diaspora. Most of them are descendants of slaves but a good number also migrated voluntarily after the abolishment of the slave trade. The African diaspora is the “third country” in the world in terms of population after China and India. It is good to note that Africans intermarried with other races over time which has led to varied definitions of Africans in the diaspora. There is the one-drop rule in the USA where a “drop” of the African gene makes you black.
There are about 12 million Africans across the Atlantic. Out of this number, about 645,000 were shipped to the British colonies in North America and the US, which has the largest population of Africans in the diaspora with about 47 million. Brazil has about 18 million and the third country is Haiti with about ten million.
There are about 100 million people of African descent living in Latin America. Some 67 million of them are in South America. In terms of a percentage of total population, the Caribbean countries composed of the islands around the Caribbean Sea has the highest number of Africans as a fraction of their population. Countries such as Dominican Republic have 96 per cent, Jamaica 95 per cent and Bahamas 91 per cent of their populations being of African descent. In Cuba Africans make up 35 per cent of its population.
In South America, Brazil leads with eight per cent of its population being “official” Africans. The city of Salvador in the Bahia Region to the northeast of the country has a majority of its inhabitants being Africans. Generally, Afro-Brazilians make up 28 per cent of Brazil’s population. This includes multiracial mulattos. If all the multiracial Brazilians are included, people of African descent make up a majority of the country. Argentina has the least number of Africans at about fifty thousand making one percent of its population.
France leads in Europe with Africans making up eight per cent of its population. The UK follows with five per cent and Spain is third with 2.5 per cent. In total Africans make up about one per cent of Europe with a total of about eight million. Greece and Poland have the least number of Africans in Europe with about 4,500 and 5,500 Africans respectively.
Israel leads in Asia with about 200,000 Africans, or three per cent of its population. Ethiopian Jews form a majority of this population. The rest of the countries all have Africans making up less than one per cent of their population. Turkey has about 15, 000 people of African descent who trace their migration to Turkey during the time of Ottoman Empire. They were moved to the region via Zanzibar from places such as Niger, Arabia, Libya, Kenya and Sudan. There was a population exchange between Crete and Turkey in 1923 which brought more Africans to Turkey. Ahmet Ali Çelikten, an Afro-Turk, is regarded as the first black pilot in history. He was one of the first people of African descent to become a fighter pilot in 1914. He flew fighter jets during WWI.
Russia was not involved in colonizing Africa which made Africans migrate there mostly after WWII. Abram Petrovich Gannibal was sold to the Ottoman Empire as a slave while a child. He was sold to a Russian who presented him as a gift to Peter the Great. He was freed, adopted and raised in the Emperor as his godson. He later became a military engineer and General-in-Chief, as well as a Russian nobleman.
The Dutch were also not involved in colonizing Africans which limited the early migration of Africans to Netherlands. There are about 70,000 people of African descent living there today and most of the names came from Dutch overseas territory Suriname where the Dutch had slaves.
Africans are the least in terms of immigrants to Chinese despite Chinese making contact with African coastal region before the Europeans. By 2020, there were an estimated 500,000 Africans living in China, with the majority residing in Guangzhou.