24 May 2024 | Story Precious Shamase | Photo Supplied
Migration and Identity in Southern Africa
New book, Migration, Borders, and Borderlands: Making National Identity in Southern African Communities on display.

In the spirit of Africa Month, the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies (CGAS) on the University of the Free State Qwaqwa Campus was proud to host the launch of a new book, Migration, Borders, and Borderlands: Making National Identity in Southern African Communities. Edited by Munyaradzi Mushonga, John Aerni-Flessner, Chitja Twala, and Grey Magaiza, the book delves into a critical aspect of Southern Africa's social and political landscape.

Reframing National Identity through Borderlands

In her opening address, the Assistant Dean of the Faculty of The Humanities, Prof Diana Breshears, welcomed all the dignitaries present, including representatives of the Royal Households, faculty members, as well as students.” It is always a pleasure meeting for a book launch and to combine it with our Africa Day Memorial lecture. I am very proud to welcome you to the second book launch of our faculty,” said Prof Breshears.

Migration, Borders, and Borderlands challenges traditional views of national identity formation.  The book utilises the concept of a ‘borderscape’ to argue that national identity is not simply determined within national borders, but rather actively constructed at the borders themselves and in the vibrant communities that exist in these borderlands.  Understanding the lived experiences of borderland residents is crucial to comprehending how national policies – often formulated in distant capitals – impact these communities.

Centring Marginalised Voices

In his elucidation of the book, Dr Munyaradzi Mushonga acknowledged the collaborative effort behind the project. He remarked, "This book wouldn't be here today without the contributions of many individuals and organisations. It embodies the African proverb, 'It takes a village to raise a child.' This book is truly a child of the village."

The book goes beyond theoretical discussions.  Migration, Borders, and Borderlands examines e historical, political, and social realities of movement across borders in Southern Africa. It explores these issues from the early 20th Century to the present day, encompassing a wide range of experiences, including gender dynamics and the impact of restrictive policies.  The book prioritises the voices and experiences of those most affected by border regulations, advocating for a more humane border regime throughout Southern Africa and beyond.

The representatives of the Royal Household, who are critical stakeholders and were also very instrumental in providing access to their knowledge repositories in the writing of the book, were also given the opportunity to comment based on their experience and engagements.

Vision 130: Building an Inclusive Future

This book launch directly aligns with the University of the Free State's Vision 130, which emphasises fostering an inclusive and equitable society.  Migration, Borders, and Borderlands promotes a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between migration, borders, and national identity in Southern Africa.  This knowledge is essential for building more just and inclusive societies within the region and globally.

About the Editors

Dr Munyaradzi Mushonga is the Programme Director for Africa Studies at CGAS and the Global Academic Director for the Decolonial International Network (DIN).

Dr John Aerni-Flessner is an Associate Professor and research fellow focusing on development, borders, and Basotho communities.

Prof Chitja Twala is a renowned historian specialising in oral histories and liberation struggles in Southern Africa.

Dr Grey Magaiza is the Deputy Director of CGAS (Qwaqwa Campus) and the Programme Director of the COMDEV programme.

Click to view documentClick here to watch the full launch.

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