Gauteng Premier worries about the people of his province

Reinventing Pan-Africanism in the Age of Xenophobia, a international symposium, was hosted by the WISER Institute last week.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura says he worries about the people of his province as “many of those [people] come from the rest of the continent”. Makhura was speaking at the discusson on pan-Africanism in the age of xenophobia, hosted at Wits University by Wiser, (the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research) and the Ahmad Kathrada Foundation.

Makhura said the the dangers of xenophobia lie not only in the “absence of opportunities” but also in narrow “national interests”. Makhura said that if we want to build a great Africa we can no longer make “catching up” with Western civilization our intention; we must offer something new and unique to the rest of the world.

“If there is something Western capitalism teaches us, is that in fact you can even become more less of a human being as your material needs are met,” said Makhura.

The two-day symposium aimed to fostering dialogue on a number of issues affecting the African continent including xenophobia, racism, tribalism, nationalism and colonial boundaries.

Other speakers on the day included academics Neocosmos and Associate Professor Suren Pillay.

Michael Neocosmos, an academic, stressed that it remains problematic to associate xenophobia with poverty and that research shows that some 65% of South Africans feel that the country’s borders should be secured through electric fencing which is a good indication that xenophobic attitudes are prevalent throughout society.

He also mentioned that people live in subhuman conditions and the assumption is that poor people can’t think, this means that we exclude them from what we think humanity is.

“If we want to expand pan-Africanism it means we must expand knowledge,” Neocosmos said.