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September 09 , 2007

Congolese Social Networks

Living on the Margins in Muizenberg, Cape Town


Congolese Social Networks: Living on the Margins in Muizenberg, Cape Town is a closely researched ethnography that focuses predominantly on the lives of three Congolese transmigrants (self-identified as such). This monograph situates them in a cosmopolitan South African space amongst dissimilar South African others, and similar national others. Unlike other contemporary international texts on transnational migrants, this book discusses entrée into the immigration country, and the diverse attempts of Congolese men to situate themselves within social networks.
In the intellectual move to focus on transnational spaces and transnationality, the reality of migration in a specific socio-political context—a focus on place—has been ignored. Migration on the African continent is more similar to the early migrations of Italian, Polish, and Jewish immigrants to the United States in the initial phases of arrival, adaptation, and reproduction of the national self. While these Congolese transmigrants maintain contact with those back home through various social media applications, their very real survival needs force a day-to-day living that secures survival needs, whilst those of a higher class maintain a focus on
lola (paradise)—onward migration out of South Africa. An important aspect of securing one’s survival needs is the creation of diverse social networks. Through these networks, Congolese transmigrants access information regarding employment, information on appropriate educational opportunities for children, information regarding safe residential areas, and a number of other forms of information that support their existence in an oftentimes alienating South African space.
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