A digital leap for inclusivity: This YouTube channel sheds light on migrant lives in SA

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In a significant move to increase support for migrants and their families in South Africa, initiatives were unveiled on Thursday in Cape Town and Monday in Johannesburg.

One initiative introduced the Fusion Avenue channel on YouTube, featuring videos created by migrants for migrants, shedding light on their lives in South Africa.

Additionally, a compelling documentary titled “Through Their Eyes,” collaboratively produced by Simone Zanetti and Maria Rosa Lorini with migrant perspectives, was premiered.

The documentary gave insight into the difficulties in South Africa, including documentation and discrimination they face due to their migrant status.

Most of the migrants said they have Refugee Permits, which officially recognises one as a refugee and is valid for two years.

They also bemoaned the price to get the documentation sorted out, as it can get into thousands of rands.

Criminality in South Africa was also brought up on several occasions. However, it affects them in a slightly different and harsher way.

While most of us have seen or have been affected by crime, one major act of criminality that affects them is the theft of their documentation. This may result in their having to do the process from the beginning and worse case scenario, identity theft.

While crime, discrimination and money were issues, what migrants agree that they love about South Africa is the education and the opportunities. While opportunities may be limited, they still do what they can to get where they need to be.

Digital technology and safety

The newly introduced online resources are crafted to offer guidance to all migrants, with a particular emphasis on improving their lives and ensuring the secure use of digital technology.

By fostering safe practices, the initiatives aim to mitigate the risks of abuse, harassment, identity theft, and other crimes associated with digital technology use.

“I was asked to do this project, but my phone broke. But then I realised that it is not the phone you have, it is how you use it and the skills you learn. With this initiative I found a voice,” said Fusion Avenue member Pascale Kolesha. Kolesha is also an entrepreneur and businesswoman, with a passion in advocating for the wellbeing of natural hair.

This groundbreaking initiative was spearheaded by the Digital Technologies and Migration work package (WP9) under the MIDEQ Hub and funded by the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

Leading WP9 are Professor G “Hari” Harindranath and Professor Tim Unwin CMG, with crucial support from Dr Maria Rosa Lorini, who played a key role in coordinating efforts in South Africa.

The collaborative creation of these resources involved migrants and organisations from both the Cape Town and Johannesburg regions, including the Scalabrini Centres in Cape Town and Johannesburg, the University of Cape Town, Unisa’s Information Systems Department, Stoneintheshoe, and SIHMA. Additional contributors to the initiative include the Adonis Musati Project, Cape Town TV, Ubuntu Bethu, and Philippi TV.


As of 2020, official estimates indicated that 2.9 million migrants were residing and working in South Africa. However, informal assessments suggest the actual number may surpass a staggering 4 million.

The majority of African migrants hail from countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Malawi, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Somalia, and Botswana, with more than 50,000 individuals recorded from each in 2020.

Beyond these, people from various African nations choose South Africa as their home, seeking safety and economic opportunities for themselves and their families.