Hidden migration, livelihoods, identities and citizenship : Malawians in the city of Durban.
Vawda, Mehmood Shahid Essop.
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This thesis is an investigation into the undocumented migration of Malawians to the city of Durban, and the influences on their livelihoods, identities and continued links to Malawi. In this context the thesis raises the issue of migration and citizenship. In the past Malawians were involved in contract migration system tightly controlled by the mining industry and the state, and in which their freedom of movement and association was circumscribed. This thesis argues that there is a new, emerging new form of migration, which may be termed transnational migration that has taken root since the early 1990s. It involves a web of links and networks created by transmigrants between Malawi and Durban. For a variety of reasons this transnational migration pattern is less visible, and largely hidden from the official gaze of the state. The reasons for migrating to Durban are mainly, through not exclusively economic ones, that is, about creating a livelihood, or multiple livelihoods. Malawian migrants become enmeshed in a series of livelihood itineraries as part of the chain of migration from towns and villages en route to, and in Durban. In pursuing their livelihood itineraries they begin to use their networks and other resources such as their ethnic and religious identities, family and friendship ties, nationality, accumulated experiences, skills and entrepreneurship to insert themselves in the city, and in the process, seek, find or create work in both the formal and informal sectors of the local economy. In this context they develop a sense of belonging to and being part of the city and begin to institutionalise their presence, contributing in many ways, both socially and economically to the city. The thesis argues that their presence, practices, dispositions and accomplishments in the city of Durban, and continued links to Malawi raise pertinent issues around the question of citizenship and migration.