Gender complexities in the context of xenophobia-afrophobia in the transnational space : the experiences of Somali women in Mayfair and Pretoria West in Gauteng province, South Africa.
Waiganjo, Anthony Gathambiri.
MetadataShow full item record
The migration of Somali women into South Africa is a fast growing phenomenon due to migrants fleeing intersecting factors of socio-political and economic nature. As compared to Somalia and Kenya, where they encounter socio- political and economic destabilization, these women arrive in South Africa with many expectations for a better life. Somali women leave their countries of origin due to civil wars, Al-Shabaab menace, economic crisis, a lack of opportunities and the need for the transit route to Europe and America. Despite this, women encounter several complexities within the transnational space, such as Xenophobia-Afrophobia. This study focuses on the Xenophobia-Afrophobia related complexities of Somali women in the transnational space. While Xenophobia is the fear of foreigners, Afrophobia is the fear of Black foreigners of African origin. The term Xenophobia-Afrophobia is adopted into the study because, in South African context, both Black Africans who are non-South Africans and foreigners from outside Africa are soft targets of the antiforeigner’s bigotry. Bigotry among anti-foreigners poses a current problem facing contemporary South Africa, damaging the image of Africa and other counties who are resisting immigrant’s influx into their countries. Due to Somali businesses being established amongst the poorest communities in South Africa, natives brand them as ‘job stealers’ and competitors of scarce opportunities manufacturing them as the main victims of Xenophobia-Afrophobia. (Niyigena, 2013). The upsurge of violence against foreign nationals in 2008 and 2015, and the isolated incidences of 2010, 2013 and 2014, are some of the examples that vividly speak to the issues of Xenophobia-Afrophobia in South Africa. This study ushers in a gender perspective of the complex phenomenon of Xenophobia-Afrophobia, as it centres around Somali women. Existing studies in Xenophobia-Afrophobia tend to categorise migrants as a homogeneous entity. However there is a huge diversity among foreign nationals with reference to their different social locations. This study examines women’s multiple social locations by accentuating the diversity of their experiences of Xenophobia-Afrophobia. It also unearths underlying interconnected power factors that either impede or empower their capacity to navigate a transnational context. This is an empirical qualitative study that adopts in-depth interviews for the data collection of Xenophobia-Afrophobia experiences of Somali women in the Gauteng province. The in-depth interviews were purposively conducted with forty interview participants that comprised 2 Action Support Centre officials. There were 38 Somali participants within and outside SASOWNET that were interviewed. The sample included Somali academics from various South African universities. The analysis of the datum, which was intended to give meaning to the social phenomenon facing complexities amongst Somali women, adopted a thematic analysis that capitalized on the salient themes throughout the analysis process. The study employed the theories of feminist intersectionality, Gendered Geographies of Power, and Social Network. This study found out that within the transnational space, women experienced overt and covert Xenophobia-Afrophobia within the intersections of their nationality, gender, clan, education, religion differently, because their social locations affected how they negotiated their spaces within the context of Xenophobia. Despite the Xenophobia-Afrophoba complexity affecting Somali women, this study rules out that women are helpless victims. However it proposes the thinking that women have agency which facilitates the negotiation within the transnational space. Within the transnational space, women experience covert Xenophobia-Afrophobia in the Department of Health, Department of Home Affairs, law enforcement and educational institutions. Futher, overt Xenophobia is also manifested in the violent attacks that have been prevalent in the province.