Xenophobia and the role of immigrant organizations in the City of Cape Town
The aim of this study is to develop an understanding of Cape Town's foreign African immigrants by looking at the profile, character and role of immigrant associations and how they shape survival strategies as well as possible paths to the integration of African immigrants. The thesis seeks to develop an understanding of the mediating role played by Cape Town's African foreign immigrant organisations. I also look at the transnational activities of these organizations. I selected Cape Town because it prides itself on liberal values of toleration, diversity and non-racialism while at the same time branding itself as an African City. The City of Cape Town has no comprehensive policy that protects or promotes the immigrants’ interests. The study of the agency and organisations of foreign African immigrants has been singularly neglected by scholars who have been mostly concerned with understanding why South Africans are xenophobic. This study is largely qualitative with life stories interviews that shed light on the context of exit and reception of African immigrants in Cape Town and reveals the hardship immigrants endure and the problems they face in their efforts to integrate into South African society. The thesis shows the different kinds of exclusions African immigrants face in both private and public spaces and highlights also the role of immigrant's organizations in negotiating space and dealing with xenophobic attacks on their community members. My findings concur with the work of key scholars such Alejandro Portes. Immigrant organisations have a variety of activities and sub-organisations that promote both transnational and local collective action. The thesis documents types of immigrant organisations, their characteristics, location, membership, objectives, activities and their efforts in assisting their members in cases of xenophobic attacks. In Cape Town, immigrants have formed organizations that help them to network with one another in order to negotiate space in this hostile environment.