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.

Leave a Reply

Sign up for our newsletter

Our newsletters are a round-up of the actions, conversations and thoughts of the ACTIVATE! network. Keep up with what’s happening in our network by reading our newsletters. Sign up here to receive them directly in your mailbox and read more stories of South African youth doing amazing work in their communities. This is the fabric of inspiration for a nation, the catalyst of youthful energy, understanding and action.


Co-financed by the Federal Republic of Germany through KfW and the DG Murray Trust.

All copyrights reserved for. The data presented here is from a sample of the Activate Change Drivers Network surveyed in 2017. Though efforts were made to make the sample representative of the Network, normal limits of sampled data should be considered in the use of this data. The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by Siyashesha Leadership Incubator, the managing entity of the A! Change Drivers programmes and A! Change Drivers Network. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or any benefit arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website.