Friday, April 17, 2015

Xenophobia in South Africa: Beyond the Culture of Violence

The recent wretched treatments on humans living in South Africa has received worldwide condemnation. This is the second time in its history of violence that South African youths have taken the laws into their hands to treat others like animals. In 2008, 64 foreigners were killed in similar attacks. Foreigners were burnt to death. As the South Africa human cruelty acts intensifies, 6 foreigners are reported already death and thousands fleeing the country for safety. Even though the violence stemmed from a blinded argument that while South Africans were jobless in their own country immigrants were having all the jobs, the outcome has had diversified interpretations. Allegedly, the flames of cruelty were ignited by comments from Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, who declared that foreigners should “pack their bags” and leave, while others are accusing President Jacob Zuma’s son (Edward) who is also quoted to have exploded that the South African government needs to stop running away from dealing with xenophobia, and it must also stop unnecessarily accommodating foreign nationals. The South African Human Rights Commission can arrest me for my comments, it’s fine. I am not the citizen of President Jacob Zuma. I am a citizen of South Africa. My thinking is independent to that of the president. These are my personal views and I am sticking to what I said and I will die with it” he said. This is a joke of very bad omen. However, it is well known and accepted principle that education is the key to life. But this is not the case in South Africa. According to a report released in 2011 by the UN Development Programme, South Africa ranked 123 out of 187 countries surveyed, with a literacy rate of 88.7% (2007 figures). This means that in South Africa, 4.7-million adults are totally illiterate as they never had a day’s schooling in their lives, and a further 4.9-million never completed their primary schooling and are considered functionally illiterate. Unicef’s website quotes the literacy rate for young South Africans between 15 and 24 years of age, measured between 2005 and 2010, as 97% for young men and 98% for young women. This is however extremely very dangerous. Former South African President Nelson Mandela took great exceptional attempt to look into the predicaments when he declared at the launch of the Mindset Network on July 16, 2000 that “"Education is the most powerful weapon with which you can change the world." He knew the fruits of apartheid will one day explode in his country. Those who want confirmation should thereof be served rightly. The truth is that those who are attacking African migrants are of a majority those who have not gone above primary six.
The attacks on African migrants in South Africa this week reminds us that the country is built on a more complex and complicated state of nature. This is so because after decades of isolation from the rest of the African continent, and the world, during apartheid, South Africa finally opened up to the rest of world with bits of accumulated grieves. Yet at the dawn of the “new South Africa” in 1994, the country became home to many outsiders. The recent explosion is a complex problem loaded with meaning of the term foreigner.” Pejoratively, the term “foreigner” in South Africa usually refers to African and Asian non-nationals.
South Africa’s xenophobia reflects the country’s history of isolation. Of course this intolerance is a by-product of apartheid. For black people, apartheid was an dangerous tool used to induce self-hate and tribalize people of the same race. For white South Africans, apartheid was a false rubber-stamp of the white race as superior.
It is these two conceptions that gave rise to the myth that South Africa is not part of the African continent, but a different place that just happens to be on the tip of the continent. Xenophobia need to be fought and fought relentlessly. Musicians like Bob Marley, Alpha Blondy, Lucky Dube sang down on Babylon, symbol of justice and humanity. The fall of apartheid in South Africa can be partly attributed to these songs; this to confirm that the voice of the people is the voice of God. What is currently happening in South Africa requires more than songs, if they be, maybe perhaps SARAFINA would give meaning. 

When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)

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