Recently, Media reported barbaric and xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa. Such attacks resulted from a wrong perception that foreigners–who in this case are Africans–caused the miseries especially poverty and unemployment they are facing. Shops and businesses owned by foreign Africans have been facing a spate of attacks whereby the attackers ransack them thinking that such a criminal act would solve their problems.
Again, such attacks have one lesson: South Africans seem to have learned nothing from their history of being persecuted, exploited and discriminated against by Boers. The victims of yesterday are now becoming the perpetrators of the same crime they were fighting against yesterday. South Africans are reiterating exactly the same by attacking foreigners, especially, Africans. Before South African xenophobic eyes, foreigners are Africans from just neighbouring countries but not others such as Indians, Chinese or even Caucasians coming from afar! If anything, xenophobic attacks seem to have all hallmarks of racism.
Xenophobia is stinking racism that embarrasses not only South Africa but also Africa. The difference from racism we’re used to, is that the current one is perpetrated by Africans against themselves. Ironically, Africans are discriminating against Africans and spare non-Africans in South Africa. If the issue forcing South Africans to attack foreigners is an economic one, they need to know and confront the real problems by dealing with those who own their economy especially land that’s grabbed from their ancestors.
Xenophobic attacks in South Africa, if they work, are at the detriment of the same South Africans perpetrating them. Such attacks will frighten other Africans, especially, small scale traders who operate shops that employ many poor South Africans apart from adding to the government revenues. For, instead of confronting the real problem, they’re missing the opportunity to address their real problems by creating pretext and scapegoatism. Those Africans South Africans are attacking are just innocent and poor people escaping miseries back home. Through their resilience and creativity, they are able to open small business so that they can survive. Their presence can’t be an impediment to their poor colleagues –Africans in South Africans.
Everybody knows that the South African economy is in the hands of a few whites who used to be favoured by the former criminal apartheid rule before being dismantled in May 1994. Unemployment among blacks is high just like in any other African countries due to being ruled by corrupt and thuggish rulers. The freedom that new South Africa got in 1994 seems to be more political than economic. The big chunk of the majority blacks is still suffering from unemployment, ignorance, diseases and poverty while the minority whites seem to do better comparably.
The solution to poverty and unemployment does not lie in attacking foreigners struggling to make ends meet. Instead, South Africans need to take on their government and urge it to create jobs and educate the people to truly address their problems in right ways instead of attacking others wantonly. Singling Africans out is not only racism but also a misguided move that will not solve the problems but exacerbate them.
Shall such xenophobic attacks go on without South African authorities reigning in to stop them; African countries – whose citizens are targeted – should cut ties with South Africa as a means of forcing the authorities to take decisive actions against such criminality. Jonathan Crush in his article, The dark side of democracy: migration, xenophobia and human rights in South Africa 2001, argues that “South Africa prides itself in having one of the most progressive constitutions in the world. A Bill of Rights guarantees a host of political, cultural and socio-economic rights “to all who are resident in the country.” This means security is a human right for every person residing in South Africa.
This is why we urge African countries whose citizens are attacked and discriminated against to take on the authorities in South Africa reminding them to fulfill their obligations under their own constitution. Why have South Africans forgotten so easily this way? It is only yesterday almost all African countries were sacrificing their economies to support them to achieve independence. Now they’re independent yet they act like Boers who used to discriminate against them. Even the nationality they are fighting for and taking pride in was created by the colonizers in Berlin in 1884 during the scramble for and partition of Africa whereby current African states were curved out at that conference.
According to African sociologist Mike Neocosmos (2008), the recent violence was a manifestation not so much of the xenophobic attitudes of the poor at the bottom of society as of a xenophobic discourse that starts at the top, at the highest levels of the ANC-led state, and is prevalent among the elites – the rising black elite as well as the established white elite – whose interests are the state’s main concern.
If anything, this is where the nexus of xenophobic attack is whereby African elites act like neo-nazis, malanites and Kuyperians. South African should stop whitewashing and witch hunting that have resulted into ignoring xenophobic attacks that have culminated in death and loss of property for innocent people whose sin is being black Africans in a black African country known as South Africa. It shocks and pains beyond comparison to find that some South Africans are dueting with the fathers of apartheid. There must be a rim between black South Africans attacking other blacks and criminals and architects of apartheid such as Abraham Kuyper, Nico Diederichs, Piet Meyer, Geoff Cronje, H.F.Verwoerd and Dr. Daniel François Malan (The Prime Minister who officiated apartheid in 1948).The country of Mandela can’t keep on committing such sacrilege.
Source: African executive Magazine 22.4.2014.