Negotiating belonging: the case of Francophone Cameroonian migrants in Pretoria


  • Gallous Atabongwoung University of Pretoria



Selected: Francophone Cameroonian migrants, locals, transmigration, transnationalism, belonging, indigenous languages, international migrants


Francophone Cameroonian migrants in Pretoria face challenges such as language barriers. The migrants are not easily accepted by locals and often face discrimination and harassment that influence their sense of belonging in the host society. This is accentuated by negative perceptions that see African migrants in South Africa in general as an economic threat to locals. South African policies on migrant labour are also control-oriented to deter immigration. For example, to employ a migrant, an employer must sufficiently convince the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) that there is no suitable South African available to do the job. In the midst of these challenges African migrants must live in cities like Pretoria where the cost of living is high, as opposed to townships where the cost of living is low, for fear of being attacked by locals. The complex relationship between African migrants in South Africa and locals stretches Francophone Cameroonian migrants to belong ‘here’ (Pretoria) and ‘there’ (Cameroon) – “transmigration/ transnationalism”. This article therefore seeks to answer the following questions; how do Francophone Cameroonian migrants negotiate belonging in Pretoria? What is the role of indigenous languages in the process of negotiating belonging?


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