A CONTACT THEORY ANALYSIS OF SOUTH AFRICANS’ PERCEPTIONS OF NIGERIAN IMMIGRATION

Efe Mary Isike

Abstract


Xenophobia targeted at African immigrants is a recurring problem that has made post-apartheid South Africa notorious around the world. The dramatic and violent nature of this xenophobia which peaked in May 2008 and April and October 2015 has raised questions about intergroup relations between South Africans and African migrants. Although the two spates of attacks assumed a similar pattern, the consequences differed. In 2015, the government took a firmer stand against xenophobia and African countries stood up against the attacks on their citizens. This begs the question of whether contact between the two groups has enabled concord or discord. Scholars have divergent views on the effect of contact between diverse groups. This article explores South Africans’ perceptions of African immigration through the lens of contact theory. A qualitative research methodology was adopted and primary data was generated from interviews with 32 South African respondents. These respondents were purposefully sampled from the social networks of 36 Nigerian migrants resident in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal.  The findings show that contact between Nigerian migrants and South Africans had a paradoxical effect on the nature of the ties that evolved. In most cases, it fostered concord, while in others it resulted in hostility and prejudice.  


Keywords


Contact theory, entanglement, conviviality, exclusion and African immigration.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11564/31-1-955

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