African Immigrant Traders, Food Security, and Xenophobia in Johannesburg, South Africa




African immigrant informal traders, food security, xenophobia, Johannesburg, South Africa


The role of African immigrant informal traders in enabling food security for families throughout Africa has been explored in the literature. However, little has been published on the relationship between African immigrant traders, food security, and xenophobia in the City of Johannesburg, South Africa. A lack of information combined with negative attitudes among researchers and policymakers has led many to undervalue African immigrant informal traders, often dismissed as peripheral to the food economy and food security in Johannesburg. Therefore, in this article, I analyse the role of African immigrant informal traders in making food accessible and affordable for customers despite constant harassment arising from xenophobia.


Akinwumi, O. 2000. “Women Entrepreneurs in Nigeria: Notes on the Yoruba ‘Alajapa’ and ‘Alarobo.” Nigerian Culture and Society 7(3): 23–56.

Akinwumi, O. 2000. “Women Entrepreneurs in Nigeria: Notes on the Yoruba ‘alajapa’ and ‘alarobo’.” Africa Update 7(3).

Battersby, J., Marshak, M., and Mngqibisa, N. 2016. “Mapping the Invisible: The Informal Food Economy of Cape Town, South Africa.” In Urban Food Security Series. Edited by J Crush. African Food Security Urban Network.

Benit-Gbaffou, C. 2016. “Do Street Traders Have the ‘Right to the City’? The Politics of Sreet Trader Organisations in Inner City Johannesburg, Post-Operation Clean Sweep.” Third World Quarterly 37(6): 1–28.

Berger, I. 2016. Women in Twentieth-century Africa. Cambridge: University Press.

Bernstein, A. 2020. South Africa’s Informal Sector in the Time of COVID-19. The Centre for Development and Enterprise.

Betts, J. B. 2005. “Western Perceptions of African Women in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries.” In Readings in Gender in Africa. Edited by A Cornwall, 20–25. New York: Indiana University Press.

Bjornlund H, Zuo A, and Wheeler S.A. 2019. “The Dynamics of the Relationship Between Household Decision-making and Farm Household Income in Small-scale Irrigation Schemes in Southern Africa.” Agricultural Water Management 213:135–145.

Bosch, A., Rossouw, J., Claassens, T., and Du Plessis, B. 2010. A Second Look at Measuring Inequality in South Africa: A Modified Gini coefficient. Durban: University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Chen, M. 2012. “The Informal Economy: Definitions, Theories and Policies.” Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing 32(1): 72–78.

COJHB. 2019. “Integrated Development Plan 2019/20.”

Crush, J., and Frayne, B. 2011. “Supermarket Expansion and the Informal Food Economy in Southern African Cities: Implications for Urban Food Security.” Journal of Southern African Studies 37(4): 781–807.

Fasanya, I., and Onakoya, A. 2012. “Informal Sector and Employment Generation in Nigeria: An Error Correction Model.” Research on Humanities and Social Sciences 2(7):1–8.

Freidberg, S. and Goldstein L. 2011. “Alternative Food in the Global South: Reflections on a Direct Marketing Initiative in Kenya.” Journal of Rural Studies 27(1): 24–34.

Hart, K. 1973. Informal Income Opportunities and Urban Employment in Ghana.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 11(1): 61–89.

Hart, K. 1985. “The Informal Economy.” Cambridge Anthropology 10(2): 54–58.

Heinz, J., and Valodia. I. 2008. Informality in Africa: A Review. Women in Informal Employment, Organizing and Globalizing (WIEGO) Working Paper No. 3.

Honwana, A. 2012. A Time of Youth, Work, Social Change and Politics in Africa. London: Kumarian Press.

Horn, N. E. 1994. Cultivating Customers: Market Women in Harare, Zimbabwe. (Ebook) Lynne Rienner Publishers.

JFPM. 2020. “South Africa’s Premier Food Hub.”

Machethe, C.L. 2004. “Agriculture and Poverty in South Africa: Can Agriculture Reduce Poverty.” Proceedings of the Overcoming Underdevelopment Conference 28(1): 29.

Mbaye, A.A., and Benjamin, N. 2014. “Informality, Growth, and Development in Africa.” In The Oxford Handbook of Africa and Economics: Context and Concepts. Edited by J. Lin and. C. Monga. 1–20. London: Oxford University Press.

Oladejo, M. T. 2021. “Ibadan Market Women and Lebanese Traders in Southwest Nigeria 1900–1960.” African Identities 00 (00): 1–16.

Rogan, M. and Skinner, C. 2020. The COVID-19 Crisis and the South African Informal Economy: ‘Locked Out’ of Livelihoods and Employment.” NIDS-CRAM.

Skinner, C., and Haysom, G. 2017. “The Informal Sector's Role in Food Security: A Missing Link in Policy Debates.” Hungry Cities Partnership Discussion Paper 6(6): 1–17.

Stats SA. 2017. “Poverty on the Rise in South Africa: An Examination of Absolute Poverty between 2006 and 2015.”

Stats SA .2019. “Towards Measuring Food Security in South Africa: An Examination of Hunger and Food Inadequacy.”

Stats SA. 2014. “General Household Survey 2012.” Statistics South Africa.

Wegerif, M.C.A. 2014. “Exploring Sustainable Urban Food Provisioning: The Case of Eggs in Dar es Salaam.” Sustainability 6(6): 3747–3779.

Wegerif, M.C.A. 2018. “An Ethnographic Exploration of Food and the City.” Anthropology Today 34(5): 16–19.

Wegerif, M.C. 2019. “The Ride-along: A Journey in Qualitative Research.” Qualitative Research Journal 19(2): 121–131.

Wegerif, M.C.A. 2020. “Informal Food Traders and Food Security: Experiences from the COVID-19 Response in South Africa.” Food Security 12(4): 797–800.



How to Cite

Bamidele, Seun. “African Immigrant Traders, Food Security, and Xenophobia in Johannesburg, South Africa”. Journal of Law, Society and Development, 13 pages.



Received 2024-01-04
Accepted 2024-05-09
Published 2024-05-30