Xenophobia has made a lot of headlines and rightfully so. Action is demanded very quick to curb the senseless loss of life. I grieve at the senseless killings, people killing people due to the fact that they are foreigners. This is outright evil and should be condemned and decisive action taking against perpetrators and the cause of the perpetration. The action taking should not only protect the victims but should also ensure a sustainable future for Africa as a whole. The spirit of revenge must not be given a foothold lest Africa runs red with blood for generations as it has.
There have been some fallacies and incongruities that have been chucked out in social media in terms of how to deal with the xenophobia. Ranging from killings of South Africans by Boko Haram to boycotting South African products things are getting tense, and action is demanded. However there are some fallacies and incongruities that need to be pointed before people take wrong action against South Africans, and here are some of them.
1. South Africans are xenophobic
Inasmuch the perpetrators are South Africans, not every South African is a perpetrator. The xenophobic group of people is part of a larger group called South Africans but it is sad to label every South African xenophobic and take action on them as some have suggested. Only a small group of people are responsible for the xenophobic attacks, and these are the ones to be disciplined for their actions.
2. Perpetrators need to be killed off at once.
I don’t agree with the above statement due to my beliefs. I believe in the sacredness of every life and when I fight against xenophobia I am fighting for the conviction that every life is precious and should be treated so. And because many people seem to be voicing this they think they are correct. What I would say is one does not cease to be wrong because majority agrees. Those who endanger other lives must be locked away so others can live a safe life and that has to be done with justice in mind not revenge. Perpetrators need to be engaged and educated as most of them are seemingly an angry mob of illiterate people.
3. South Africa can kill off its citizens at Marikana but spare xenophobia thugs
I am not an expert in the Marikana situation. Lives of South Africans were lost at the mercy of their police force. A brute force was used against the citizens who were demonstrating. The way I see it, both situations more of a power play than anything. The demon of power had a big hand to play. Zuma being from KZN and wanting to keep power would tip-toe around the xenophobia issue as it started in Durban, and Marikana issue is the same case, it seemed expedient for the government to silence its own citizens by brute force, even death.
4. Boko Haram did well for threatening South Africa
Are you kidding? Tell me you are kidding. The main thing we are fighting is a culture of violence in Africa, not South Africans. Boko Haram could come stop xenophobia and who will you call to stop Boko Haram? Lucifer? We cannot be calling upon a stronger evil to stop an evil. Never. we should be looking for peaceful ways to stop the killings and look for the ways very fast before anymore lives are lost. Boko Haram needs to be dealt with and they will never be a solution as long as they do not uphold human life above selfish greed. which is what the xenophobia attackers are suffering from as well. Lung can never be a cure to bronchitis.
5. Boycott all South African Products
Though this action is likely to force the government of South Africa to play a hand, it only works if the surrounding countries have strong enough economies to sustain themselves. In this case it doesn’t apply. I am Zimbabwean, currently in Zimbabwe and the reality is that Zimbabwe is more of a wholesale country than a manufacturer. We manufacture a few things and manage to feed ourselves but more than that we rely on South Africa. We could boycott products but we would also suffer probably more than South Africa will.
And I loosely state this, I think the xenophobia is afrophobia due to the inaccessibility of white foreigners in South Africa. The locality of the attacks have been predominantly townships and low income areas, whereas an European moving to South Africa is most likely to stay in a high income area. This translates to inaccessibility of those people to the angry mobs.
The solutions for curbing such action should be thought of in both short-term and long-term. Here I list some suggestions which maybe helpful.
1. South African Responsibility
Criminalize the actions of xenophobic attacks and anyone seen to incite acts of violence taken into custody to protect the rest of the citizens from their barbaric actions. It should be made clear by the South African government that murder of another human being is an criminal act and the police should uphold the law without fear or favoritism. The South African government owes the victims of xenophobia dignity and respect and thus should be payed towards them. The SA gvt should hasten and help those who want to be repatriated possible for them in the safest way and those who want to stay grant a peace of mind by policies made. People who have said speeches inciting the violence, particularly community leaders should be held accountable. They are leaders and should be charged for leading people in the wrong direction.
2. Each Countries’ Responsibility
For the countries with people in South Africa who have fallen victim to xenophobia, they should look into repatriating their citizens. Malawi has done amazingly well with organizing such, and I think all other countries should follow suit. Complaining about South Africa and having diplomatic meeting may help, but all in all if countries do care about their people they will take decisive action like Malawi has. Each country has a responsibility to its citizens, near or far. Furthermore, the governments of African countries should strive to develop their people, provide jobs and sort themselves economically rather than chase people away from their homelands.
3. African responsibility
Africa is at war with itself. It kills and destroys itself instead of encouraging and building itself. Every African has a responsibility to build this dream, every African has a right to claim this dream. We need to learn and teach love for our neighbors, the sacredness of life, and the importance of diversity. We need to be unified in our diversity as Africans, and we need to cultivate a culture of peace, a culture of healthy conflict resolution, people empowerment and economic flourishing.
Being a leader is a fearsome designation and we need to treat it thus. Not only are you responsible for yourself but other too, and set an example for them. Africa needs to raise quality of leaders that tend their sheep gently, use the staff on the wolf not on the sheep. For far too long has African bled under those who came to rape it for its resources. Now should it also bleed because of its guardians who have slept on the steering wheel. To whom shall we look to for leadership?
Africa has for long been plagued by a spirit of brotherly hatred, anger, injustice and corruption which has manifested in many different ways from genocide, tribal cleansing, school and university attacks. This has by far torn Africa more than anything. Brother has lifted an axe against brother and sisters have slaughtered each other. We need to put an end to the madness by forgiveness and fight the evil with good, take care of our fellow Africans. Those who err should be brought to judgement, no doubt. But if we both throw mud, we get our hands dirty and we lose ground. Unite Africans Unite. Let your voice be heard as one as we fight against the culture of evil.
Article by Mkhokheli Ncube, My Bulawayo