Happiness, a 40-year-old immigrant woman, has worked as a domestic worker in South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg, for most of the 19 years she has been in the country. To escape abject poverty, in 2003 she left Zimbabwe without a passport, paying smugglers who bribed border police and who carried her across the crocodile-infested Limpopo River into South Africa. She has no recollection of the crossing: ‘I fainted,’ she says.
Happiness – not her real name – is not alone in making this arduous journey. Most African migrants don’t travel between continents to the Global North, but migrate within the African continent.