Living on the Fringes of Life and Death: Somali Migrants, Risky Entrepreneurship and Xenophobia in Cape Town

  • Pineteh E. Angu University of Pretoria
Keywords: African diaspora, Displacement, Risky entrepreneurship, Xenophobia, Cape Town


Since the 2008 attacks on African migrants, xenophobic violence has become a
form of social agency for responding to increasing unemployment, destitution
and crime in South Africa. Africans living and operating businesses in urban and
peri-urban areas are now objects of different forms of social violence, as they are
repeatedly blamed for unfulfilled political promises by the ANC-led government.
One of most victimised African migrant communities is the Somali community,
whose business activities in cities and townships are perceived as undesirable
threats to locals’ sources of livelihood. This article uses qualitative data collected
from 30 Somali migrants in Bellville and Khayelitsha, Cape Town to examine how
Somalis’ co-existence with South Africans and their business tactics in Cape Town
intersect to influence xenophobic violence. It explores the relationship between
risky entrepreneurship and xenophobia, and the threats that this relationship
poses to Somali lives.

Author Biography

Pineteh E. Angu, University of Pretoria

University of Pretoria