Francophone African narratives such as Calixthe Beyala's Loukoum: The “Little Prince” of Belleville (1995) and Myriam Warner-Vieyra's Juletane (1987) express and explore the complex experiences of immigrants in the African diaspora. They focus on the problems of learning new cultural codes, on the choice between retaining a native culture or assimilating, and on the conflicts between immigrants and their new host society, particularly those faced by peoples of African descent in the context of postcolonial migration.
Loukoum and Juletane function as “narratives” about cross-cultural movements, cultural memories, and individual and collective struggles for integration abroad, and sometimes at home. They serve as a space for criticism and mediation about migration and otherness, and may also be considered as the voices of disenfranchised immigrants of African descent who long for a hybrid space they can call home.
In recent years, with ongoing unrest in many parts of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, hundreds of thousands of people have migrated to Western countries, fleeing political oppression, religious persecution, violence, and famine, and seeking safety, freedom, a decent living, and a place to call home. However, migration destabilizes identities and communities precisely insofar as it detaches identity from place, though it can also create new nomadic identities and lead to the creolization of global culture (Ahmed, 2003, 1–2).
Immigrants arrive at their destination with many uncertainties and encounter numerous challenges. They must find employment and accommodation; adapt to new laws, cultures, and languages; negotiate obstacles to assimilation and integration; endure loneliness and indefinite separation from their families; and sometimes cope with exclusionary behaviors on the part of hostile elements of the host community who claim that immigrants cause huge population surges and put a strain on infrastructure and services.
In France, the preferred destination for citizens of former French colonies, immigrants, particularly Blacks and Arabs, are victims of harassment, cultural clichés, and discriminatory views resulting from “the notion that immigrants and their descendants are fundamentally out of place in French society,” or for the simple reason that they are “enduringly different from the indigenous majority” (Hargreaves, 1995, 1, 2).