Life-stories : ethnographic portraits of victims of the 2015 xenophobic attacks in Durban - South Africa.
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The borders of the Rainbow nation opened up in 1994 after Nelson Mandela became president. Since that time South Africa is faced with immigration issues which have led to an influx of foreigners in search for a better life away from subjugation, civil wars, and extreme poverty. The influx has brought discontent among the local citizens which generated xenophobic violence against many of these foreigners. Xenophobia was largely unknown in Africa and only came to be popular when it first erupted in South Africa. It was previously a term known mostly in academic, government, and social work circles. Although attacks of foreigners have been sporadic over the last two decades, two concentrated waves of xenophobia occurred in 2008 and 2015, leading to many deaths, and widespread looting and destruction of the property of foreigners. Xenophobia is now a general feature in the South African media, and in anti-xenophobia campaigns. The city and province where this study was limited to (greater Durban, KwaZulu-Natal), experienced a great deal of this xenophobic violence. The current study sought to describe and understand the lived experience of xenophobia by African foreigners in Durban (KwaZulu Natal). The study adopted a qualitative approach and the methodology used was a narrative approach. The findings of the study showed that the research participants, as a combined group, have lived through a wide range of xenophobic experiences including physical violence and that the research participants’ personal characteristics influenced their exposure to and experience of xenophobia. The study contributes to the understanding of the lived experience of xenophobia.