• Today is: Wednesday, April 26, 2017

SLICE OF LIFE: Loving our African people

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Nokuthula Zwane
March12/ 2017

SLICE PICTURE

African people have become hostile towards each other over the past couple of years, and there have been quite a few people who have remained silent about the impact it has on the relations between African countries and its people.
Following the xenophobic protests and attacks against foreigners in Tshwane over a week ago, I had my daily check-in from social media and morning news channels. It honestly did not have any effect on me until a very close friend (partner) from Nigeria said to me; “Thuli, did you hear about these xenophobia attacks? Yah, nor it’s scary. I am not safe in South Africa at all.” That moment “shook” me. I stood still and had no response to his question, comment and fear.
Xenophobia is understood to be the dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries. South Africa has been one of the few countries on this continent that has regularly experienced xenophobic attacks against foreign African migrants for almost 10 years.
Well, this is my response.
How does a South African, like myself, maintain a level of patriotism when my fellow South Africans are involved in deliberate attacks against a fellow African? Why do we (South Africa) have to go through discriminatory violence and prejudice? Who is to blame for this incitement of violence?
In December 2016, Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba made some reckless public statements blaming illegal immigrants for crime and calling on them to leave the city. “Illegal immigrants are holding our country to ransom and I am going to be the last South African to allow it,” said Mayor Mashaba.
Africa is a beautiful and a big-enough continent to accommodate all those who wish to live here. One finds it hard to believe that South Africa is an exception. For instance, during the apartheid regime a number of people escaped to different African countries, and those countries opened borders and homes to accommodate them. How quickly we (South Africans) have forgotten.

How does a South African, like myself, maintain a level of patriotism when my fellow South Africans are involved in deliberate attacks against a fellow African?

On March 5, 2017, Eyewitness News reported that a coalition of organisations had warned government leaders and politicians to refrain from making statements which could incite xenophobia. The organisations, including Sonke Gender Justice and refugee organisation UniFam, marched to Parliament last Saturday to demand that government protect foreign nationals.
As a reaction towards the recent xenophobic attacks, the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, Enugu state chapter, threatened it would fight back if the killing of Nigerians in South Africa reoccurs, saying, “enough is enough”.
The worst thing one can experience when visiting a family member, friend or workplace is to find that your presence is unwelcomed.
Why can’t we live as one community with all our differences of race, nationality, ethnicity and religions? Africa is for all Africans.

I believe that we are African before we are South Africans. My support lies with those who are against the attacks on foreign nationals.

I believe that we are African before we are South Africans. My support lies with those who are against the attacks on foreign nationals.
“South Africa never leaves one indifferent. Its history, its population, its landscapes and cultures – all speak to the visitor, to the student, to the friend of Africa,” wrote Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss-Moroccan academic, philosopher and writer.
Xenophobia and unfair discrimination of human beings is childish and unacceptable and it needs to stop now.

 

RELATED ARTICLES 
Wits VuvuzelaWitsies say ‘no!’ to xenophobia. April 2015.

Wits Vuvuzela,  New website to blow the whistle on xenophobia. August 2016.

Wits Vuvuzela, Youth league marches against xenophobia. April 2015.

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Nokuthula Zwane