It’s heartwarming, at least, to observe all the anti-xenophobia rallies and demonstrations taking place in South Africa. There are rational South Africans who would always defend the rights of foreigners – thank God. Unfortunately, the xenophobic violence in South Africa will most probably happen again, because xenophobia is an attitude that cannot be changed overnight
One can see a lot of xenophobia examples and pictures in both local and international media to prove that xenophobia in South African is not just a myth. Make no mistake about it, April 2015 is not the first time xenophobia has hit the headlines in South African cities; there have been similar senseless and brutal attacks on African immigrants in the recent past. Moreover, the persecution of foreigners is more widespread, not just in Johannesburg and Natal, as the recent incidents seem to suggest.
The fact is that some South Africans just don’t like foreigners, especially those from other parts of Africa. The mean South Africans who cannot tolerate aliens, for whatever reason, usually exhibit their hatred quite openly. While the primary causes of xenophobia in South Africa are fickle, the intensity of the hatred is rather shocking and unbelievable.
African immigrants are regularly subjected to xenophobic taunts and insults, and they are sometimes physically assaulted for reasons that are trivial at best. They are commonly referred to as Ma-kwerekwere, an undeniably derogatory term.
Mind you, some South Africans unleashed unspeakable violence against their compatriots, especially in the last decade leading to the 1994 elections that ushered in democratic rule, with Nelson Mandela as the first president. As a case in point, ANC and Inkatha Freedom Party supporters frequently attacked each other with guns, machetes, knobkerries, and other deadly weapons. The casualty figures in the so-called “black-on-black violence” were staggering.
The spectacle of Archbishop Desmond Tutu crying uncontrollably at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is one memory that will stay with me for a very long time. On that occasion, the renowned Archbishop was simply overwhelmed by emotion, after hearing tale after tale of terrible atrocities committed by South Africans against fellow South Africans during the dark days of apartheid.
The point is that people who can maim and kill their compatriots for the sake of politics would not hesitate to attack foreigners for a different reason, whatever it may be. So we shouldn't be overly surprised at a bunch of South Africans attacking people from other parts of Africa.
Human migration, as some sociologists claim, is a natural instinct. Therefore nothing can stop people from seeking greener pastures in South Africa. Underdevelopment is the main reason why people are heading to South Africa.
Most African countries have failed to develop an economic system that can create and sustain job and business opportunities to keep their citizens in gainful employment at home, to avert the necessity of seeking greener pastures elsewhere. For example, in Ghana, there is a gold rush that has attracted thousands of expatriates into the country. Gold mining alone can be the foundation of an economic boom that can engage people from every corner of Ghana. However, Ghanaians continue to leave the country in droves, to seek a better life in South Africa and other places, mainly Europe.
The vicious xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. But, sad to say, it will happen again, sooner or later.
Proofreading this post was easy, thanks to Grammarly, my favourite proofreader.
Written by: Theo Acquah
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