Editor's note

Headlines in several African countries have been dominated by a wave of violent attacks in South Africa targeting migrants from elsewhere on the continent. African leaders and officials have openly condemned the attacks, decrying them as xenophobic. In Nigeria, South African-owned businesses have been targeted in retaliatory attacks. Gilbert M. Khadiagala cautions that the governments of these two nations need to show leadership now more than ever. And Cuthbeth Tagwirei argues that part of the solution to this crisis lies in finding the right words to describe and define what's happening.

These issues are not new: attacks of this nature have swept South Africa on and off for years. In two separate articles which we’ve published previously, Steven Gordon unpacks data that explains why anti-migration sentiment is so high in South Africa. For his part, Loren B Landau suggests it's time to shift the narratives around migrants and migration; in another article, he examines the country's ambitious plan to tackle prejudice, including xenophobia.

Thabo Leshilo

Politics + Society Editor

Top Stories

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, left, with his Nigerian counterpart Muhammadu Buhari in late August in Japan. GCIS/Flickr

Xenophobia: time for cool heads to prevail in Nigeria and South Africa

Gilbert M. Khadiagala, University of the Witwatersrand

South Africa and Nigeria need to lead policy debates on long term measures to address migration in Africa.

Firefighters work to put out a burning building after violence and looting against foreign nationals in Pretoria, South Africa in 2019. EPA-EFE/Yeshiel Panchia

South Africa: a new narrative could tackle anti-migrant crisis

Cuthbeth Tagwirei, University of the Witwatersrand

Faced with the same problem, South Africa is turning to the familiar toolkit to explain a recurrent problem.

What research reveals about drivers of anti-immigrant hate crime in South Africa

Steven Gordon, Human Sciences Research Council

Beliefs about the role played by foreign nationals in South Africa clearly influence how people think about anti-immigrant hate crime.

How fears about jobs drive anti-migrant sentiment in South Africa

Steven Gordon, Human Sciences Research Council

A survey shows 70% of South Africans feel immigrants pose a threat to the country.

Xenophobia in South Africa: why it’s time to unsettle narratives about migrants

Loren B Landau, University of the Witwatersrand

Framing xenophobic violence as a question of immigrant victimisation invites divisions between neighbours.

South Africa has a plan to fight prejudice. But it’s full of holes

Loren B Landau, University of the Witwatersrand

The action plan offers no information about budgets, oversight, clear standards for measuring progress or accountability mechanisms.


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