This chapter explores representations of diasporic black African foreigners’ identities in David Mutasa’s novel, Nyambo Dze Joni (Stories from Johannesburg) (2000), and in Welcome to Our Hillbrow (1999), written by the South African author, Phaswane Mpe. The two novels expose the hypocrisy of the South African officials and masses who scapegoat African black foreigners for crimes ranging from snatching of local jobs, taking local girls and drug peddling. For most African black foreigners and some local black South African citizens, diasporic experience in the new nation is a paradoxical physical space and spiritual experience in which stories of milk, honey and bitter bile might be authorised to capture the fact of being doubled as both potential subject and citizen. Despite experiencing bare lives characterised by nervousness and precarities, most black African foreigners in Johannesburg or Joni command, recall and deploy multiple identities whenever required to confront the ugly underbelly of the physical and verbal violence of xenophobia. Thus, an irony inherent in African diasporic experiences is that most black foreigners appear to retain some semblance of humanity and organise their worlds relatively creatively, and becoming successful by immigrants’ standards, in the most hostile circumstances.
Part of the book: Indigenous, Aboriginal, Fugitive and Ethnic Groups Around the Globe