Gender contestations in the migration site : the case of Nigerian migrants in Durban, South Africa.
Hingston, Claudine Anita Cassandra.
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At the end of the apartheid era in 1994, South Africa attracted a large number of migrants from other parts of Africa such as West Africa. The declining political and economic situation in the West African country Nigeria after the early eighties, led to increased migration of Nigerians to post-apartheid South Africa, where they either pursued higher education or sought employment in both formal and informal sectors. However, like any other migrants, they found themselves positioned in a new gender regime as gender regimes differ across countries. As such, they were faced with gender specific problems and challenges and their prior gender roles, relations and identities underwent some transformation. It became even more complicated as men and women are affected differently by these challenges and they respond differently as well. They therefore had to frequently contend with gender issues and they struggled to either adapt to or resist their new gender regime. Very little research however had been done in this regard and there was a need to provide knowledge on this subject. To this end, a qualitative methodology was employed in this research to explore the gendered lives of Nigerian migrants in Durban, South Africa. The research explored the ways the migrants adjust in their new gender regime and the gender issues they had to grapple with. It also examined the gender challenges they encountered and their responses to them. Significant findings from the research are that Nigerian male migrants in Durban use religion to keep their women subordinated and that even though the migration site generated new gender perspectives for some of the migrants, the realities involved were complex. Further findings showed that migration impacted greatly on the gender power relations in the households of the migrants and that Nigerian migrants were more prone to xenophobic attacks than other African migrants and there were gender dimensions to it. This research advance that gender cannot be separated from the migration process. It further advances that the migration site is one of struggle and contradictions in which the migrants gender identities are constantly being challenged, negotiated and reinforced.