A week ago I had a conversation with a colleague of mine about xenophobia. She told me about a story she was covering where foreign nationals were protesting against the arrest of their friends.
More than 400 foreign nationals, including women and children, were forcibly taken out of the buildings in Johannesburg CBD at 2am. I then recalled the same thing happened the week before in Sunnyside, Pretoria. The similarities sent chills down my spine.
Our government has started a procedure called Operation Fiela, which in Tswana usually means “Sweep the Dirt”. According to SABC, the government started this operation to “target areas, buildings and spaces which are known to be frequented by criminals”.
Now, the problem is not what they may be trying to achieve, but the manner in which they are going about it.
See, I happen to be in a serious relationship with a beautiful young woman from Zimbabwe and I became scared for the safety of my partner. She came to South Africa because the political situation in Zimbabwe is not favourable to those who are from an opposition party. She said she also came here because “unlike in South Africa, there are very scarce opportunities for young bright graduates due to the declining economy”. Now in South Africa, she has experienced mild xenophobic attacks in the past and is scared for her safety considering the recent attacks.
I ask myself, where is our humanity? Where exactly is this rainbow nation that we always speak highly of?
We live in a country where, instead of being our protectors, the police are responsible for brutality towards innocent people. In 2012, there was a massacre in Marikana, North West. Police shot miners with live ammunition resulting in 34 deaths. The shooting has been compared to the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 when police opened fire on protestors and killed 69 people.
Where are our protectors?
We had the police inflicting brutality on our nation’s people during the apartheid regime and it is still happening in this so-called democracy. I am not saying there aren’t any good cops, but our government has not created a safer police force. Our government has failed us.
We recently celebrated Freedom Day and I am asking myself what we are freed from, when we are still shackled by anger and mental slavery. Nelson Mandela probably did not have this vision for South Africa, this was not his aim when he spent 27 years in prison.
Our government has become an enemy to our fellow African brothers and sisters. The recent violent attacks against foreign nationals have given rise to the question: Is South Africa really a united country or are we an angry, pained and divided nation.
Let us heal as a nation, find love in diversity. I, as a black bisexual woman in love with a foreign national woman, would like to take pride in South Africa’s healing as a nation. This goes beyond just having tolerance but means accepting our fellow Africans. Let us show the spirit of ubuntu and be a true rainbow nation that cultivates diversity. We all come in beautiful forms and, essentially, we are all human.
Perhaps one day as a country we will achieve a state of acceptance as described by writer Eckhart Tolle: “Acceptance looks like a passive state, but it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness.”