Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Xenophobia and urban poverty a highly flammable mix

This week, I have published a piece which argues that xenophobia and urban poverty combine to create an explosive mix. The article looks at the central place of urban informal settlements in the strife.

I also point out that the conflict is a struggle between poor and poor (it easier for those mobilizing to lash out at those closest to them and easiest to attack) and anger turned inward.

The article argues, furthermore, that the conflict has its roots in:
- deep-seated identity issues that are linked to conflict flashpoints occurring at various points in our history.
- a clash of expectations where locals are aspirational (they want a better life and good jobs now) whereas many poor immigrants are relatively happy to grab the crumbs that fall off the economic table.
- different approaches to entrepreneurialism (and notes that researchers suggest that immigrants are better hawkers and small traders than locals).

See the complete piece at, a website of the South African Civil Society Information Service. The article is in the right hand column of the landing page.