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Reviewed by:
  • Transnationalism and New African Immigration to South Africa
  • Akim J Mturi (bio)
Jonathan Crush and David A McDonald (eds) (2002) Transnationalism and New African Immigration to South Africa. Cape Town and Kingston, Canada: Southern African Migration Project (SAMP) / Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS)

This book comprises eight chapters by different authors.1 It focuses on three main questions: who are the new African immigrants to South Africa? what conditions shape their migration patterns? and what is the nature of their relations with South Africans?

Fieldwork for these contributions was conducted in five areas in South Africa (Mizamoyethu, Marconi Beam, Winterveld, Durban, and a site located close to the South Africa/Lesotho border) and one in Mozambique (the Machaze district). Participants were selected using the snowball sampling technique and, hence, as the authors correctly suggest, these studies cannot be seen as representative of either the study areas or South Africa as a whole. Nonetheless, the book contains much rich information relating to African migrants and immigrants in South Africa, the majority of whom (at least in the sample areas) come from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, and Namibia.

The volume opens with an introductory chapter by the editors which summarises the contributions while exploring in some detail the concept of 'transnationalism'. In Chapter Two, Sally Peberdy and Chris Rogerson examine the rise of African migrant and immigrant entrepreneurship in South Africa. The only chapter in the book which contrasts a South African [End Page 110] setting (the Vaal area) with one outside South Africa is presented by Stephen C Lubkemann. In it, he compares lifestyles, especially the marriage strategies of Mozambicans who migrate to South Africa and settle, with those of non-migrants in the Machaze district. He argues that '...intensification of transnational polygyny (marriage of a man to multiple wives when these wives reside in different countries) during and after the war has changed the balance of social power and the meaning of social roles and relationships within Machazian households' (2002:62).

In Chapter Four, Theresa Ulicki and Jonathan Crush2 discuss the movement of contract women migrating from Lesotho to work on farms in South Africa. This pattern of migration is referred to as new because until recently only Basotho men migrated to South Africa to work in the mines. What the authors show is that these women are usually either heads of poor families or their husbands are unemployed. In Chapter Five, Maxine Reitzes and Sivuyile Barn examine the relationship between black South Africans and immigrants from neighbouring countries, and discuss how this relationship has changed over time. The study was conducted in the Winterveld area near Pretoria. Immigrants report that before the 1994 national elections there was no noticeable discrimination against, or feelings of hostility towards, black foreigners but that since then the general and official attitude to non-South Africans has changed negatively, quickly and dramatically.

David McDonald (Chapter Six) presents a study conducted in Marconi Beam, a new informal settlement near Cape Town occupied primarily by non-South Africans. He examines the social interactions between the locals and foreigners and concludes that it is intense but not particularly conflictual. By contrast, Belinda Dodson and Catherine Oelofse examine (Chapter Seven) the issue of xenophobia in Mizamoyethu, Cape Town, and conclude that there is conflict in the area between insiders and outsiders fuelled mainly by job competition. The final chapter by Brij Maharaj and Vadi Moodley examines patterns of migration into Durban. They highlight the rapid increase in number of immigrants from other African countries and that the source countries of these migrants now encompass the entire continent.

In conclusion, the book is a useful and interesting source on the African migrancy phenomenon in post-apartheid South Africa. What I found particulary useful was the differing circumstances under which migrants, both legal and unauthorised, have made the choice to uproot and move to [End Page 111] a new and sometimes hostile environment. It was also interesting to read about how and why black South Africans have changed their attitudes towards foreign nationals in at least some parts of the country since 1994. Overall, I would recommend this book to those seeking information on transnationalism and immigration...


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