effort.jpgI hate xenophobia and xenophobes!

 

By Effort Magoso

 

The recent reports of xenophobia in the aftermath of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, though denied in some circles, cannot be a whispering campaign, rumors, hysteria or alarmist phobia being spread by irresponsible reporting or raving lunatics.  Put simply, this can not just be a figment of people’s imagination; something disturbing is definitely happening down south.

 

As such, these happenings must be viewed with the serious attention they deserve!
 
Many postulations have been tossed around as to whether the events in South Africa today are either a classic case of xenophobia as claimed in various media, or are a case of criminals trying to use the fear of xenophobic attacks to scare foreigners into handing over their belongings, as claimed by South African Police Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, or worse still, machinations of westerners trying to paint black a successful African World Cup.

 

Although the truth of the matter might be somewhere in-between these postulations, let me make it categorically clear that xenophobia makes me sick.

 

As soon as I start thinking about xenophobia -I can’t help it- the sad memories of Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave of Mozambique who was burnt to death in hatred against foreigners’ attacks in 2008, come rushing into my mind. The series of riots that started in the township of Alexandra (in the north-eastern part of Johannesburg) and spread like a veld fire to other settlements in the Gauteng

Province, then to the coastal cities of Durban and Cape Town all are reflected back.

 

It is pathetic, inhuman and evil – whichever word comes to your mind first.  Nothing can substantiate killing a man who leaves his country for another to work for the livelihood of his family. Not even that “they are stealing our jobs” or anything else.

 

It would be sad if South Africa quickly put their back on a continent that supported them against a ruthless apartheid regime and solidly backed them as they hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

 

History will judge us harshly if we Africans are to allow ourselves to view or to be viewed through boundaries created by Otto Bismarck’s 1884-5 Berlin Conference for the expediency of the colonizer, sad again if the spirit of Ubuntu and the Pan-African pride are left to die a natural death in the name of ‘keeping our countries to ourselves.’

 

Since the end of the World Cup final, there has been a steady trickling of reports of violence against foreigners in South Africa.

 

Internet news reports say tensions have been high in Kya Sands Township, Johannesburg, after South Africans targeted shops and homes owned by foreigners for destruction. Many have chosen to dismiss them but I will dare not! I am not ready to see bloodshed, especially of a black man against another, not today or at any stage in the future.  

 

To this end, South African Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s words that last week’s violence in Cape Town was criminality disguised as xenophobia must not be taken seriously. In fact the violence should be taken as both because xenophobia is always criminality, although the reverse might not necessarily be true. 

 

According to an online dictionary, xenophobia is an “unreasonable fear, distrust, or hatred of strangers, foreigners, or anything perceived as foreign or different.” It can manifest itself in several ways in a country – victimization by police, brutal assaults, murders, ethnic cleansing in an area or mass expulsion from the country.

 

With this definition in mind, it takes only a lunatic to say the xenophobia threat in South Africa is an illusion, surely fear and hatred have been cultivated and life will never be the same for millions of foreigners in the country.

 

Mozambican Foreign Minister, Oldemiro Baloi told the Noticias newspaper that the country’s government is considering xenophobia as a serious threat. Indeed it is!

 

The ANC Youth League president, Julius Malema made a soothing statement with regards to xenophobia.

 

“We celebrated the World Cup together as a continent, and why is it that today we turn against our own brothers and sisters?” he questioned.

 

It all reminds me of Martin Luther Jnr’s poem “I have a dream,” where he hoped of a society where blacks and whites would live together peacefully. Sure it was a dream, an elusive one! Today people of the same skin color are failing to live together peacefully.

 

Humankind therefore needs to do some soul-searching, lest brethren from different sides of the river will forever be at each other’s throats.