Panel 2

Exploring the causes and consequences of irregular migration in contemporary Africa

Panel organisers: Adebusuyi Isaac Adeniran, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria and Shanta Balgobind Singh, University of KwaZulu- Natal, Durban, South Africa.


Across varying epochs, the movement of individuals within and beyond distinct cultural and geographical entities has continued to be one of the most resounding platforms for depicting human interconnectedness. However, contemporary manifestations of such practice in the likeness of irregular mobilities /migrations by Africans, within Africa and beyond the shores of Africa, calls for an in-depth scrutiny. Apparently, the growing trend of irregular human movements across all regional groupings in Africa is directly linkable to the failure of particular political leaderships to expand the limits of socio-economic opportunities. For instance, the unwholesome introduction of ‘structural adjustment programs’ (SAPs) by various governments in sub-Saharan Africa during the mid-1980s had, thenceforth, implied a remarkable escalation in the volume of irregular movement of Africans towards Europe via the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea. Meanwhile, it should be noted that most migrations of Africans have continued to occur at respective sub-regional levels relative to trans-continental pattern. A good reference is the case of the ‘Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS), whose free movement protocol has tended to make cross-border movements within the sub-region seamless. Engaging the ‘theory of transnational social field’, this panel will seek to analyze specific causes and consequences of irregular migrations in contemporary Africa. Besides economic consideration, what are the other non-monetary/symbolic determinants of emergent patterns of irregular mobility/migration in Africa? What have been the impacts of budding migratory trends on the receiving societies (for instance, in terms of identity integration and multiculturalism) and the sending society (for instance, in measure of capacity building in the productive and in the service sectors)? These and related inquiries will be given adequate space in the panel. We therefore invite papers that analyze the determinants, patterns and outcomes of irregular migrations in contemporary Africa; from both participatory and empirical backgrounds. 

Approved abstracts panel 2

1. Climate Change and Bourgeoning Herders-Farmers Conflict in North-Central Nigeria: A Cross-Border Environmental Deterministic Appraisal

Authors: Adedotun Afolabi, Migration and Development in Africa Monitors (MDAM), Ile-Ife, Nigeria & Adebusuyi Isaac Adeniran, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

Although the skirmishes between the indigenous farmers and migrant Fulani herders within the North-Central geo-political zone of Nigeria have remained recurrent, the dynamics of recent outbreaks, which have had both cross-border and environmental connotations, call for an in-depth scrutiny. With the aid of ‘theory of environmental determinism’ (which postulates the centrality of such physical variableness like climate change in understanding associated process of social change) and a mixed-method design (survey approach, observation technique and symbolic FGD), this research investigates the transnational/sub-regional outcomes of budding deforestation of land-space within the Sudan and Sahel Savannah zones of West Africa. In all of the study locations (that is, Benue and Nassarawa States in North-Central Nigeria and Kaduna in North-West Nigeria), cultivation and destruction of farmlands have routinely served as the causes of all brawls between the migrant Fulani Herders (from Northern Nigeria and other West African countries) and the indigenous farming populace. Essentially, the herders and the farmers have merely presented a ‘face-value’ reflection of ongoing imbroglio in North-Central Nigeria. The actual determinants (though undercurrents) have been changing climatic conditions within the Sudan and Sahel Savannah zones of West Africa and continued porosity of Nigerian borders on the Northern flanks with Chad, Niger Republic and Benin Republic. The Fulani, as a major ethnic group in Nigeria (and across its Northern borders), requires fertile land in order to sustain its existence, which it presently lacks in its traditional abode; dispersed all over the Sudan and Sahel Savannah. Lands in these zones have been battered by nascent deforestation largely due to changing climatic conditions. The only thinkable option for the Fulani herders, therefore, is to move southward, even if it requires the application of archaic, militant methodology.

2. Migration, Integration and Inter-community Development in West Africa

Author: Kabran Aristide Djane, Peleforo Gon Coulibaly University, Korhogo, Côte d’Ivoire.

Unhindered mobility across borders has been identified as a productive medium for spreading development initiatives to various communities, especially at the realm of regional functioning. Nevertheless, ineffective implementation of associated regional ‘Protocol on free movement of people and goods’ by concerned member-states has remained the greatest threat to cross-border migration, integration and inter-community development in West Africa. Extant colonial undercurrents and inherent political instability (and policy inconsistency) within member-states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have presented vast clog in this regard. Engaging the postulate of transnational simultaneity, which de-emphasizes the usefulness of physical barriers in the process of cross-border relation and an exploratory design, this study unravels how informal practice of ‘transnational subsistence dualism’ along the Nigerian-Ivorian migratory corridor has presented a veritable leverage to the sub-regional integration project, which has remained largely elusive within the realm of formal configuration. As a case reference, regional cross-border transporters, who are usually of varying ethnic and national backgrounds, has been noted as the most visible facilitators of inter-community development intents/projects across the West African borders, though at a rather inverse manner. As they have been relevant in obliterating extant cultural and colonial differences; so also, they have been useful in the process of enabling individual and communal development intents/projects among the ECOWAS’ member-states.

Keywords: Cote d’Ivoire, Integration, Inter-community development, Migration, Nigeria

3. Regional migration management in West Africa: exploring the place of human rights within ECOWAS supranational borderless initiative

Author: Aluko Ayobami O, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.

With the intent of transmuting the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) from ‘ECOWAS of States to ECOWAS of People’, all hindrances to productive cross-border socio-economic interactions among over 300 million inhabitants of the sub-region are projected for obliteration. Such impediments have included different immigration policies and multiple monetary zones. Previous studies have considerably neglected imperative nexus between human rights and migration, which constitutes the building block of related interests between individuals who are insistent on the defence of human rights and individuals/institutions focusing on better management of people (including immigrants) within their socio-economic space (methodological nationalism). This study investigates the ‘missing link’, examines its causes and impacts, and proffers useful policy recommendations for protection of human rights and better management of regional migration within the ECOWAS framework on a ‘borderless’ sub-region.

‘The Rights of Man’ and ‘Transnational Simultaneity’ theories; guided by an exploratory design, are adopted. Primary data were collected among Nigerian immigrants in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and returnee migrants in Ejigbo, Nigeria. Data were collected through non- participant observations, 8 focus group discussions, 20 in-depth interviews and 6 case profiles. Data were subjected to content and ethnographic analysis.

This study suggests that a better understanding of the place of human rights in the migratory process, especially as it pertains to the West African sub-region, could establish a concrete and proactive point of commonality to which States, human rights advocates and migrants’ communities can all productively contribute while they still pursue their individual goals or responsibilities. Indeed, by bringing the basic rights of migrants to the fore within the sub-region, an enduring lifeline would be presented to the sub-regional ‘borderless’ initiative.

Key words: borderless, ECOWAS, human rights, regional migration, UN

4. Transnational simultaneity: exploring African emergent model of regional integration

Author: Esther Tolulope Adebusuyi, Faculty of Education, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

This study basically examines the implication of dual identity cleavage for Nigerian immigrants in Cote d’Ivoire. Ostensibly, various studies have attempted to explain the phenomena of trans-border relation and identity construction as separate concerns, none is observed to have established a formidable relationship between them in recent past. As such, the specific impact of simultaneous attachment to two nations by a migrants’ group is explored in this research. The study’s specificities are situated within the confines of Charles Tilly’s ‘Urban Sociological Postulate’ in which communities of participants are treated as social networks, while the research design combines four principal qualitative methods, that is, non-participant observation, focus group discussion (FGD), in-depth interviewing (IDI) and case study. Information from archival sources complemented the primary data. Data are subjected to content and ethnographic analyses. Two communities in West Africa (that is, Ejigbo, Nigeria and Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire) serve as the study locations. Although vagaries of colonial rule had tended to discourage interactions across the borders, especially along the Anglophone-Francophone dichotomy, (uncensored) pre-colonial interactive pattern had outwitted such tendencies. Routinely, two identities are kept alive by the immigrants (that is, an Ivorian-propelled image; for sake of acceptance within the host community and a Nigerian-propelled image; for sake of interaction with ‘home’ and for convenient re-integration). In Ejigbo, Nigeria, most of Ivorian goods are freely retailed using the Ivorian CFA; so also in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, many Nigerian goods are sold using the Nigerian Naira. This study surmised that the implication of related cross-border processes is the production of a people engaged in transnational subsistence dualism (that is, transnational simultaneity) wherein border, distance, language, government and associated variables are no longer barriers to interpersonal and intergroup relations.

Key words: transnational, simultaneity, African perspective, cross-border, lifestyle

5. Intra and Extra Continental Migration in Contemporary Africa: Patterns and Drivers

Author: Maryisabella Ada Ezeh, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State – Nigeria.

People migrate all the time from one country to another for different reasons. These differences affect the overall migration process. Different causes for migration will produce different outcomes observable from a sociological perspectives. This paper explores the trends and drivers of irregular migration in contemporary Africa. It particularly analyses Ernest Ravenstein’s Law of Migration to determine how relevant the ‘Push and Pull factor’ is today in driving the migration trend in Africa. The migration of Africans into Europe and America can be traced back to the 1960s, when large number of Africans migrated in pursuant of higher education across Europe and America. Irregular migration has been accelerated by poverty, unemployment, crime, violence among others which have made many young people eager to leave Africa and seek out new opportunities. The above factor is complicated by high level of visa and other immigration restrictions put in place by the destination countries. It is estimated that hundreds of thousand Africans each year attempt to enter Europe clandestinely, crossing multiple borders and major geographic obstacles while evading official detection. However, in the last decades, there has been an increase in immigration within the continent, thus there is an evolution of immigration intensity in African countries for neighboring African countries and non-neighboring African countries. Coastal West Africa and southern Africa are larger, historically well established migration hubs, but recently, the oil economies of Gabon and Libya have risen as major African migration destinations. International migration is an ever-growing phenomenon that has important development implications for both sending and receiving countries. This paper offers an in-depth look into the trends, drivers and consequences of intra and extra migration in contemporary Africa.

6. Omoluabi in a Transnational Space: Defamiliarizing the Narratives of Yoruba Irregular Migrants

Author: Owoeye Omotayo Idowu Oke, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria.

Recently, there has been an increasing focus of the international community – scholars and policy makers on the predicament of irregular migrants; often focusing on the motivating factors and a mere description of migrants’ narratives without recourse to the associated symbolic outcomes of their migratory acts. Hence, since migration is local and symbolic; with the aid of narratives and humanistic anthropological perspectives, I argue that narratives of irregular migrants possess symbolic elements with transformative abilities that are significant to the migration process. Specifically, this study examines the narratives of Yoruba irregular migrants to determine the symbolic conception of migration, symbols attach to their actions, and the meanings assigned to these symbols – in order to determine the associated symbolic consequences and transformational process of such migration of the Yoruba irregular migrants.

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