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Identity and Belonging

The African Others in South Africa

by Vivian Ojong, Stephen Basure

“Migration and the politics of belonging has become buzzwords in the last quarter of the Twentieth and the first decades of Twenty-first Century. Countries and human beings, the world over are on the move. Government institutions in Africa, Europe and elsewhere are investing billions of their currencies to check migration flows. Those who navigate and crossed the international borders are scrutinized with derogatory terminologies. Taking South Africa as a case study and with the use of an interdisciplinary approach, the authors of this book have carved out yet another new fillip which adds to the budding scholarship. The authors have done justice to the topic. The inescapable attraction of this volume is the erudite verve/vitality, scintillating language and the engaging style which they employ to tell a complex story in a very simple way.” 

Associate Professor Walter Gam Nkwi, Institute of History, University of Leiden, The Netherlands

 This book approaches the issues of belonging from several perspectives. Utilising an historical approach and policy review to understand the past and current dynamics of belonging, the book provides a basis for understanding the contemporary picture of belonging and citizenship for African migrants in South Africa. Firstly, the historical development of the discourse of citizenship from the pre-apartheid era in South Africa is discussed, highlighting major shifts in perceptions towards African migrants in South Africa. Secondly, the book analyses access to citizenship and how it has implications for the belonging of African migrants in the country. Utilising ethnographic fieldwork, the book makes use of narratives and experiences of African migrants in selected spaces to gain an understanding of how issues of citizenship have structured their relationship with place and space in their migration destinations. It is a major observation that issues of citizenship and belonging are complex and subject to various processes which bring together both the migrants and host communities. On the side of host communities, it is evident that issues of legality structure access to citizenship, and legality is used as an important tool of inclusion and exclusion of foreign African migrants. The second important aspect is the interaction between migrants and the hosts which brings out a discourse of inclusion and exclusion based on identities and competition over access to resources and space. Citizenship and belonging are therefore not clear-cut processes but create complex situations in terms of theorising and managing the practicalities of migration. These complexities stem from the ambiguous processes of inclusion and exclusion of African migrants in South Africa. The tools which are meant to guarantee management of who belongs and who does not are incapable of functioning properly due to human innovativeness, which results in different forms of access mediated by social networks and other extra-legal means.

ISBN 9789956553099 | 112 pages | 216x140 mm | 2024 | Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon | Paperback




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