Young Migrants

Migrancy and immigration are two highly contentious and divisive concepts in modern democratic societies. In Western Europe and North America, migrancy is a national debate, which in certain instances has become an important election decider. South Africa as a young democracy is no exception to this sensitive topic. The apartheid past has engineered a complex type of internal migration which is unique because it was purely socially engineered, due to large separate development, many people, mostly young; had to migrate and settle in areas of development seeking employment. This type of migration could be categorised as pseudo-urbanisation; meaning people are moving into cities due to poverty, however cities not designed to accommodate such large influxes.

Migrancy first and foremost can be simply defined as a condition or phenomenon of habitual movement from one place of residence to another. In an African and South African context migrancy and economics are inseparable. Migrants in most cases are young people who are economically active, who establish themselves in a foreign nation/culture on a temporary basis, and commute between the two societies. Friction is common with such movements, particularly in homogenous societies like South Africa, xenophobia and violence being the common feature of these conflicts.

As a means of addressing this challenge, it is important to first and foremost to view young migrants as an identity, a counter-culture and a society rather than a group of foreign nationals. Furthermore mainstream society needs to be educated about the value of migrants in society, the amount of contribution they make to the economies they participate in; good examples in this regard are cities like New York, which is known as the city of migrants. South African society need to be socialised to embrace cosmopolitanism; an ideology that regards all human groups as belonging to a single community; a concept which is very similar to the ideal of Ubuntu. Young migrants are not in competition with the indigenous population, but are vital in the creation of dynamic and progressive societies.

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