Postcard from Johannesburg: an immigrant’s tale

South Africa is the preferred destination for the continent’s immigrants, but xenophobia and bureaucracy are making life tough, says Anthony Kaziboni.

The World Today Published 2 December 2022 Updated 1 December 2022 2 minute READ

Anthony Kaziboni

Head of Research, Institute for the Future of Knowledge, University of Johannesburg

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. 

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