By George Njung. Africans’ lack of knowledge about our own shared refugee experiences continues to fuel hate and discrimination on the continent. For far too long, the global refugee situation has been misconstrued as static, with certain parts of the globe generating disproportionate numbers of refugees and others perpetually faced with the burden of hosting displaced peoples.
Category: Histories of Refuge
This series looks at how people have migrated, sought refuge, and settled, in and out of Africa. Who gets to be called a refugee, and why? We investigate historical and present-day examples from all over the continent. Essays are from the participants of the Rethinking Refuge Workshop at the Forum Transregionale Studien, convened in 2019 by Marcia Schenck. Contributions in this series are also published on the Africa is a Country Blog and are edited by historian Madina Thiam.
By Alfred Tembo and Jochen Lingelbach. While World War II was ravaging Europe, thousands of Polish people found a safe haven in British colonial Africa. This forgotten history shows us that migration patterns are constantly changing.
By Christoph Kalter. The year is 1975, and the footage comes from the Portuguese Red Cross. Who, or maybe what, are these people? Returnees or retornados is the term commonly assigned to more than half-a-million people, the vast majority of them white settlers from Angola and Mozambique, most of whom arrived in Lisbon in 1975.
By Rose Jaji. African “refugeeness” in the media, policy, and academia is an essentialist physical image conflating material deprivation and multiple victimhoods. Historically, African refugees were capable of political participation even to the point of building vibrant states in the new lands they fled to in precolonial Africa.
By Adérito Júlio Machava. During the period prior to the setting up of the Portuguese colonial administration in southeast Africa, there were important waves of forced migrations caused by, firstly, the Mfecane, and secondly the defeat of King Ngungunhane in 1895, and the subsequent overthrow of the Gaza Empire.
By Lazlo Passemiers. Not all people seeking refuge in Africa have been black. One group of white refuge-seekers in Africa consisted of whites who fled from their African countries of residence after the fall of colonial and white minority rule.
By Madina Thiam. On February 17, 1907, a brief note went out of the Dakar office of the Governor-General of French West Africa, addressed to subordinates. The governor had learned through French newspapers that: “According to a report on Northern Nigeria … thousands of Fulanis from the Middle Niger might be migrating from the French territory and heading towards the Nile valley.”
By Keren Weitzberg. Mahad was born in Kenya – a fact that neither his passport, nor carefully scripted biography suggests. For decades, Kenyan Somalis (citizens of Kenya who also identify as Somali) have faced discrimination in accessing legal documents, including national identity cards, passports, and birth certificates.
By Marcia C. Schenck. In 1969, the OAU proposed its own refugee convention to reflect African values. Why did it not become policy across the continent?
By Marcia C. Schenck. Are you interested in the history of refuge seeking in Africa? Please check out the recent blog series on Histories of Refuge. This series looks at how people have migrated, sought refuge, and settled, in and out of Africa. It also examines issues such as who gets to be called a refugee, and why?