Human Mobility in Africa

Challenges Beyond Legislative Solutions

Recently, I watched a documentary featuring Dudula, a South African collective actively ejecting foreign individuals, primarily Africans, due to their perception that these outsiders pose competition and seize their opportunities. This situation resonates with the persistent problem of xenophobia in South Africa, an issue that has plagued the nation for an extended period.

This comes when a few days ago, I participated in the national dialogue organized by the Economic, Social & Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) to discuss the ratification of the Free Movement Protocol (FMP) in alignment with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA). During the forum, significant attention was directed toward the legal structures, highlighting the reluctance of nations to endorse the FMP as the primary obstacle.

Also Read: No, African Countries Should Not Have Joined The G20 Independently

For two days at the forum, I repeatedly reminded myself that the primary obstacle in addressing migration challenges in Africa extends beyond mere policies and documentation. This continent, steeped in a profound history of people and goods in constant movement, is grappling with more profound issues than just legal constraints.

It is culture. Norms and prevailing societal attitudes often present formidable challenges for individuals seeking success in foreign nations. Let me give you an example;

Last year, I worked as a research assistant with a renowned international organization in Mathare, a prominent slum district in Nairobi. It was during this time that I became intimately familiar with the challenges faced by Ugandan immigrants in Kenya. Many Ugandan workers accept lower wages than their Kenyan counterparts, leading to job displacement and simmering tensions. As a result, Ugandans often live in close-knit communities out of fear of hostility, with instances of verbal confrontations and even physical altercations between Kenyan and Ugandan residents becoming distressingly common.

The majority, nearly all of the Ugandan immigrants in that region, crossed the border unnoticed by authorities. Movement within Africa persists, regardless of the Free Movement Protocol (FMP). However, this mobility is far from truly free, as it is marred by discrimination, disdain, and derision from fellow Africans.

The Nyamwezi people of West Central Tanzania Practicing long-distance trade before Arabs penetrated the region

Last week, I bought groundnuts from a certain young man in Nairobi CBD. I like taking nuts with strong tea. He was short in stature, with a dark complexion, and a unique accent. I initially assumed he was Luhya or Kisii of Kenya, until my university comrade joined us in the conversation and I discovered the he was from Burundi. And truly, his Mpesa name, I couldn\’t pronounce. I was surprised but deeply told myself, \’We are so the same as Africans that we should live as brothers and sisters and not hate each other\’. Despite his undocumented journey, he aspired to obtain a Kenyan ID and already held a waiting card. We briefly discussed Burundi\’s governance situation and wished him the best on his journey

The economic system implemented in Africa has significantly eroded our social cohesion. Its capitalist nature fosters a sense of competition, causing us to view others as rivals. We support our own but struggle to accept those from distant origins. Monetary and land disputes even lead brothers to conflict.

Different stories have been told by the Somali, South Sudanese & Ethiopian communities living in various parts of Africa.

 Xenophobia riots in the Johannesburg suburb of Turffontein on September 2019. Photographer: Michele Spatari/AFP via Getty Images

On the global front, we observed the Trump administration\’s efforts to restrict entry for individuals of African descent in the United States. Presently, there are reports of Canada exploring measures to limit further African immigration into the country.

Global mobility often seems exclusive, favoring the privileged—those with financial stability, established careers, or businesses. This disparity disproportionately affects marginalized communities, particularly Black individuals, who endure hardships at the hands of both their own communities and other populations. This situation is undeniably disheartening and calls for urgent attention and change.

Hence, as we endeavor to advance legal mechanisms for fostering free movement across Africa, it becomes imperative to advocate for \”Africanacity\” and cultivate the ethos of \”undugu\” or brotherhood. My approach to the young groundnut vendor stems from my firm conviction that we share a common bond, nurtured through years of learning and understanding.

Also Read: Decolonizing or Merely Customizing?

We must prioritize the security of foreign nationals, with a particular emphasis on government initiatives. It is imperative that concerted actions are taken to guarantee the safety and well-being of individuals from abroad within our borders.

Governments throughout Africa need to rouse themselves, stabilize their democracies and revitalize their economies to generate prospects for their citizens. We must significantly reduce the levels of desperation in Africa.

Viva Africa!

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3 Responses

  1. RE: “Governments throughout Africa need to rouse themselves, stabilize their democracies and revitalize their economies to generate prospects for their citizens.”

    Any alleged expert or layperson who talks about “democracies” AS IF a real democracy ACTUALLY EXISTS ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD (or has existed at any time in ‘human civilization’) is evidently a fool who’s repeating mindlessly and blindly the propaganda fed to them since they were a kid and/or is a member of the corrupt establishment minions whose job is to disseminate this total lie because any “democracy” of ‘human civilization’ has always been a covert structure of the rule of a few over the many operating behind the pretense name and facade of a “democracy”: (or

    “There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. […]. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies […]. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable laws of business. The world is a business […].” — from the 1976 movie “Network”

    “We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” — Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice

    Does anyone still not see how the deadly game on the foolish public is played … or still does not WANT to see it?

    “We’ll know our Disinformation Program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” —William Casey, a former CIA director=a leading psychopathic criminal of the genocidal US regime

    “Separate what you know from what you THINK you know.” — Unknown

    1. Hey Morrison

      If democracy isn’t the right system of governance, what option do we have?

      The challenges people are facing, especially poverty are consequences of malfunctional governance. How do we solve them?

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