Manuel Mafakane gives his perspective about South Africans who are currently carrying out violent xenophobic attacks on African foreign nationals acorss various areas in South Africa.
Today I will be looking at the issue of xenophobia in our beloved country, South Africa. This is a very touching and sad issue that has to be dealt with as soon as possible by the South African government as well as its citizens. I say no to xenophobia because it needs to come to an end. Xenophobia is simply the dislike of, or prejudice against people from other countries. This is exactly what South Africans in the post-apartheid era are doing best, that is: detesting Africanforeigners, and especially Blackforeigners.This seems to indicate that South Africans are oblivious about how our fellow African nations helped our own political leaders and activists during the times of apartheid.
Yes, African countries like Zambia, Ghana, Angola, Tanzania and many others played an important role in helping South Africa become the place that it is today. These countries helped South Africa achieve democratic freedom by looking after our political activists and freedom fighters who were in trouble with the apartheid government, by welcoming them into their countries and keeping them safe during their stay there. For example, in 1962, Nelson Mandela left the country for Tanzania to seek support for the liberation struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Tanzania welcomed Mandela with open arms and he consequently received assistance from the country. Similarly, South African refugees settled, built houses and earned a living in Mazimbu, Tanzania. The Tanzanian government additionally provided education for the children of South African refugees in the Mazimbu Camp. During the same year, Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) , led by Robert Sobukwe , received support from Ghana. Therefore, it is evident that South Africa received a lot of support and help from other African countries in the past and we should appreciate that and return the favour .
As the saying goes, “history repeats itself,” and that is the case with xenophobia. South Africa experienced xenophobia during 2008 and 2009, and now again in 2015. History is consequently repeating itself and it will definitely happen again in the future if something serious isn’t done about it soon. However, xenophobia is deeply ingrained in the minds of South Africans, because they believe that African foreigners are stealing their job opportunities; and this is one of the main reasons South Africans keep on attacking them.
In addition, xenophobia is something which will never come to an end if our leaders, like King Goodwill Zwelithini, continue to encourage South Africans to chase away and attack our fellow African brothers and sisters. On the 12th of April 2015, attacks on foreign nationals reermerged in Kwa-Zulu-Natal when shops in Umlazi and Kwa-Mashu, outside of Durban, were torched. An estimated 2000 Malawian, Zimbabwean, Mozambican and Burundian foreign nationals have been displaced, and around five people have been killed. There were also attacks on foreign nationals in other provinces in the country.
Xenophobia is not right at all: South Africans should treat African foreign nationals as fellow brothers and sisters by living together in peace and harmony in democratic South Africa. We, as South Africans, must start treating our fellow African brothers and sisters with respect and dignity, and this includes the government; since I believe our government and political leaders are also disrespecting foreigners by not adequately protecting them. Thus, there is only one enemy in our country and that is the ‘elite’.
The elite are using us, the poor, to fight the poor. The government also blames the poor for all the wrongs, mistakes and crimes that they have carried out. Wake up South Africa; the people you call foreigners are not taking your jobs, your government and your elite are! For instance, who employs foreigners in their shops instead of South Africans? Who is not given the opportunityto go to school for free and study to become anything they wish to be? Who are the most successful and wealthiest people in our country, yet can’t even share a piece of their wealth to feed the poor?
The answer to all these questions is: elite South Africans! They are the problem, but the blame is being shifted to poor, innocent foreigners. Our country will remain in this current state until South Africans change their minds and the way they see things . Wake up South Africa; do something instead of just complaining and quarrelling, because we all know that that is what you are good at. I say no to xenophobia, it must come to an immediate end!