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Migration and diaspora: a case study probing socio-cultural challenges experienced by African migrants in Port Shepstone, Kwa-Zulu Natal.

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Historically, human mobility and blended settlements have been a massive part of anthropological research. This prospect traces back to the era of hunter-gathers and the era of globalization and labour migration. Contemporary anthropologists have contributed to the understanding of globalization, diaspora, and migration patterns all over the world, paying attention to how deterritorialization and reterritorialization, migration pull and push factors, and migration patterns have an impact on humans and until today, new dynamics continue to emerge hence migration and diaspora as research themes in Anthropology have not reached the level of saturation. This qualitative study titled "Migration and Diaspora: A Case Study Probing Socio-cultural Challenges Experienced by African Migrants in Port Shepstone, Kwa-Zulu Natal. This master’s project was conducted on twenty recruited African migrants living in Port Shepstone. The sampling method was snowballing sampling. From face-to-face interviews, data revealed that the movement of people in Africa continues due to economic challenges. The movement of people becomes means of escaping economic hardships that our state leaders have dismally failed to resolve. From the perspectives of the Migration Theory, this study proved that poverty and unemployment remain a prevalent socio-economic pandemic that most people want to escape to make ends meet for themselves and their families. Many Africans migrate to South Africa to benefit from a variety of economic opportunities available in the informal sector of the economy in the country. It emerged from the narratives of twenty (20) participants that many African diasporas are no longer interested in locating themselves in big cities and towns, but they mostly prefer rural communities because there is no economic competition; hence most of them own tuck-shops and other retailing stores. They are also celebrating that they have located themselves where there are less affected by municipality by-laws, which could have troubled their trading in big cities since they do not have citizenships and while others have lapsed visiting permits. The South African economic sector is much easier to penetrate for those without proper documentation. This study contributes to migration studies by revealing that rural communities are the economic hubs for Diasporas who can generate remittances for themselves and their families and escape poverty and other socio-economic hardships. Receiving remittances is another pull factor that led diasporas to leave their origins to South African rural communities called "the promised land, filled with honey, corridors of informal economic emancipation". From the views of Group Conflict Theory, this study noted immigrant economic celebration. Hence, most Diasporas endure constant xenophobic attacks and verbal abuse. The standard pejorative and derogatory label "Amakwerekwere" continue to be their cultural identity shock. They constantly live in fear of being attacked by those who believe they came to steal their economic opportunities. In contrast, they invented new economic corridors that even South Africans could have explored. The support of religious spaces provides psychosocial support for these Diasporas, and they have conducted advocacy awareness that fights against xenophobic attacks. Through the perspectives of the Network Theory, this study also revealed that they have coped with xenophobic attacks. This notion extends to identity shocks and other forms of verbal abuse. As much as they established strong ties, irrespective of their lineage or places of origin, they are still subjected to similar experiences. The demonstration of communal support by immigrant groups has been another psychosocial structure seen in many aspects of their lives. For example, they all contribute to marriage preparations or a funeral; they bury them through their collective money contribution. These highlight elements of solidarity. This study concludes by recommending that Africa be the socio-economic hub of all those born in Africa. This approach will be approved if the heads of States remove border gates that maintain Africa's territorial division. This will allow all Africans to migrate freely for economic opportunities without being socially excluded or categorized as trespassers that need to be apprehended for illegal trespassing. No African citizen should be identically called a migrant, diaspora, a kwerekwere or experience xenophobia and face any other socio-cultural challenges if they locate themselves within the African landscape. The study advances the call to collapse borders in Africa to expand economic corridors that will allow Africans to share their African resources. This call will realize or deepen the African Renaissance Agenda, which is the African treasure of all Africans. By establishing psychosocial ties, the studied population is commended for taking care of each other during trying times. They have proved to be "their brothers/sisters' keepers", which Africans should be known about.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.