Hashtags, Waned Generosity and the Unending Black on Black Test of Endurance of Foreign Nationals in South Africa

Adetola Elizabeth Umoh, university of kwazulu-Natal

The study of migration and integration is active and contested in African countries. Contemporary discourse on migration in the Republic of South Africa reveals recurring attacks on foreign nationals over the past decade. Recent literature shows that the attacks have mainly targeted foreign nationals from other African countries. However, this growing literature focuses on physical attacks on foreigners while negating cyberspace ones. This paper focuses on attacks on foreign nationals in virtual space. The paper addressed two research questions: In what way are migration and migrants being portrayed on South African Twitter? In what way are Twitter hashtags being used to perpetuate Afrophobia and xenophobia? A study of two hashtags was conducted. The article drew from the scapegoating theory to interrogate tweets on South African Twitter. Data was generated using an online hashtag tracker. A qualitative content analysis of two hashtags (# PutSouthAfricansFirst,# and NormaliseHiringSACitizens) was conducted. The study noted the omnipresent view that all black foreigners in South Africa were “illegal immigrants” regardless of their migration status. Besides, black foreigners were stereotyped as criminals. The Department of Home Affairs was viewed as complicit in the influx of illegal immigrants in South Africa through corrupt activities, draconian migration policiess. The tweets also blamed the government for its inability to resolve the problem of illegal immigrants. The study established that hashtags were now the new frontier for Afrophobic attacks on black foreigners in South Africa. Couple with locals taking the law into their hands either by confrontation and jungle justice to debar foreign nationals from accessing social services such as healthcare and labour market

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 188. Here, There, Everywhere: Blackness Across the Globe