The politics of identity, belonging and the integration of African professional migrants in post-apartheid South Africa

  • M.N. Otu
Keywords: Belonging, foreign African academics, identity, Integration, and South Africa


Since the fall of apartheid and South Africa's emergence into a democratic state, there has been an unprecedented influx of migrants of various professional backgrounds, from the rest of the African continent. This influx constitutes a major challenge to defining the demographics, and understanding their implications on notions of belonging and integration within the state. This article will be looking at the political and institutional structures in place, which either facilitate or constrain a sense of belonging and integration of professional migrants of African origin into the new democratic state of South Africa. Discussions in this article are based on a qualitative in-depth study conducted among established and emerging foreign scholars of African origin at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The research was premised on the perceived problems of identity, belonging as well as integration that are generally affecting foreign nationals in the country. In connection with this, the researcher sought to explore the extent to which migrants are utilising the opportunity structures that are in place (both within the academia and broader the national community) to negotiate their belonging and integration within the institution and South Africa. The findings portray that as much as there are structures and policies in place both institutionally and nationally that determine the status quo of migrants' belonging and integration, the outcomes usually do not resonate with such policies or structures. Most migrants regardless of whether they are citizens, permanent residents or are on work permit, still face resistance from local South Africans who see them as a threat, and above all as strangers in the land.

Keywords: Belonging, foreign African academics, identity, Integration, and South Africa


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1012-1080