Understanding Xenophobia in South Africa and Some Other African Countries from the Victims’ Lens: A Systematic Review of Literature

Impact of Xenophobia


  • Akeem Adewale Oyelana Nelson Mandela University
  • Ngcamu, Bethuel Sibongiseni Department of Public Administration and Management, University of South Africa




Economic factors, foreign nationals, local citizens, victims’ experience, xenophobic violence, xenophobia


This study sought to assess the victims’ experience of the causes and extent of xenophobic attacks in some African countries. It employed a qualitative research approach which relies on a historical design. Data were collected from secondary sources, such as books, journals and the internet, among others, and these were discussed in themes using a textual analysis. The available published articles were reviewed and used to argue, debate and discuss the immediate causes and extent of xenophobic attacks in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Zambia, and to arrive at conclusions and make recommendations. The findings of the study show that the causes of xenophobic attacks include interactive factors related to the number of exposures inhabitants have to strangers; cultural factors which include identity and nationalism; material or economic factors related to employment opportunities; and available resources. The experience of xenophobic violence of many foreign nationals has been sad because many lives have been lost, damage and injuries have been sustained, and huge number of properties of foreign nationals have been destroyed during incidents. The study concludes that unless the limitations are addressed and governments provide favourable employment opportunities, quality education, training programmes and service delivery to citizens, foreigners in some African countries will continue to experience xenophobic violence. The study recommends that the government should make every effort to ensure that effective workable plans, programmes and policies are put in places to improve the lives of citizens in communities. This study has significant benefits for the country as a whole, which could boost the economy, government and stakeholders, as it will confirm the impediments and make recommendations on the best way to handle the causes and extent of xenophobic violence in African countries.

Author Biography

Ngcamu, Bethuel Sibongiseni, Department of Public Administration and Management, University of South Africa

Department of Public Leadership Management, Humanities

Senior Lecturer 



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