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The Globetrotters, The Pros & The Wanderers: Types of Nigerians living in South Africa

Nigerians with travelers bag with passports

Wole Soyinka, the first African recipient of the Nobel Laureate in Literature, is a respected Nigerian academic. He once said, “It is the human potentials that interests me. I travel and everywhere I go I am amazed at the presence of Nigerians. The intelligence, integrity, productivity, [and] initiative”.

Just as there are Nigerians everywhere, there are also several thousands of Nigerian residents in South Africa, many of whom fly to the rainbow nation for several reasons which range from temporary to permanent stay.

According to, a fact finding Organisation, ‘The Nigeria Union South Africa (NUSA) put the figure of Nigerians living in South Africa at 800,000 while Statistics South Africa (StatSA) 2016 Community Survey data shows that 30,314 people are from Nigeria. Furthermore, National census figures from 2011 in South Africa reveals that 26,341 Nigerians reside in South Africa. The United Nations also put their estimate at 17,753 Nigerians in South Africa’.

Unfortunately, available figures of Nigerians living in South Africa are conflicting to form a general idea of the number of Nigerians residing in South Africa. However, an attempt is been made to categorize the different types of Nigerians who have taken up residence in South Africa.

Motive for traveling to South Africa forms the deciding factor for the categorization of my fellow compatriots living in South Africa. Three different categories: ‘The Globetrotters, Professionals and the Wanderers’ were formed based on personal observation. Their intentions set them apart. They fall into distinct classes.

However, have you ever wondered why so many Nigerians are flocking to South Africa? What are they doing here? And what are their plans? To answer these questions, we first need to differentiate between three types of Nigerians living in South Africa.

(1) The Globetrotters – Widely travelled Nigerians 

The Globetrotters fall into the first category of Nigerians in South Africa, these individuals have travelled and/or  lived in developed countries such as the USA and UK.
This set of Nigerians see South Africa as a rebound or Plan B. Having lived in a developed country, they have become accustomed to the comfort and convenience that comes with living in a developed country. As a result, they do not see themselves being able to cope with the harsh living conditions in Nigeria. Having had an uninterrupted supply of water and electricity, they can no longer tolerate not having either one of these, regardless of how much they love their country. They see South Africa as the best of both Africa and the Western world. With its world class infrastructure and relatively stable governance, South Africa is perfect for this category of Nigerians.

(2) The Pros – Highly skilled Nigerian professionals

The Pros usually relocate to South Africa in pursuit of personal and career growth. These individuals are typically self motivated and have a solid plan for achieving success in their chosen career.
This category consists of highly skilled professionals such as Doctors, ICT Professionals, Project Managers, Lecturers, Academics, and Doctoral candidates.

As sought after professionals in their respective fields, they are good at their jobs and are in South Africa to advance their careers. Their goal for relocating to South Africa is to make a better living for themselves and their families. These talented Nigerian professionals love the African continent and are proud to be part of a thriving African country. They enjoy the orderliness and opportunities that South Africa presents to professionals. Their long term plans are to stay permanently in South Africa and make a name for themselves while also developing the country and its people.

(3) Wanderers – Nigerians who drift from one African country to another with the aim of settling in a developed country.

Wanderers see South Africa as a gateway/transit point to travel to a developed country. This third category of Nigerians have no desire to officially settle in South Africa. They have their heart set on ‘bigger and better’ countries and have applied to or tried to obtain visas from the likes of  USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Wanderers spend months or even years accumulating just enough funds to leave South Africa for ‘greener pastures’. They usually have no set career and are self-employed.

The full article can be found on, an online community forum developed to primarily support Nigerians living in South Africa with fact based information on self development, general information, etc instead of relying on undependable and often dodgy street information.

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