Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A wave of #Xenophobia hits #SouthAfrica again

A wave of Xenophobia has restarted in South Africa and the image you see is just the tip of the iceberg.  Not only are some of us getting images such as what you see in this story but others are sending text messages like this one:

"Reports from Pretoria: more than 30 shops belonging to foreigners in , Pretoria west,Hamaskral,and mamelodi were all burn down by local south African..more News to follow.."

Xenophobia in its simplest definition is a fear or hate of that which is foreign often leading to hating immigrants and becoming violent towards them.  In South Africa the most recent Xenophobia experience was in 2015 when many people were murdered and their property destroyed.

In 2015 the world tried to understand why South Africans were rising up against immigrants and it came down to 3 things:

1) High unemployment among the youth.  Right now the overall unemployment rate in South Africa is 26.6%; which is not as high as in Uganda but certainly not as low as European and North American countries.
2) Perception of crimes being committed by immigrants.  This is not disputable but it does not mean that South Africans do not commit crimes or that all immigrants commit crimes.
3) Poverty resulting from high unemployment and poor service delivery.  You cannot build a mansion among squatters and not expect one of them to start burning and the fire does not reach your mansion.

The image you see on the video was sent from South Africa on February 20, 2017 and is being circulated on Social Media.  While some think it might be a joke, it should be taken very seriously because it is inflammatory hate speech and provokes people to act violently towards others.

There is no law in the world that sanctions Xenophobia and please do not get into the United States of America (USA) issues.  That will be a story for another day.

As much as we fear the unknown or resent others for whatever prejudices we may have, it is crucial that we avoid jail by not committing crimes such as enticing people into joining lynching sessions. You will go to jail after the dust settles for with technology now, there is no crime that goes undocumented.

Report all hate speech to the authorities. Do not incite. Stay safe.  Do not fear others simply because of their colour, country of origin, their job, the neighbourhood they live in or the business they run. Not all of us can afford to live in the BridlePath or Upscale New York City.

Many of us watched in horror in 2015 as immigrants into South Africa were being killed, property was being destroyed and trade wars were taking shape with African countries recalling their people and evacuating their citizens. Do we want this again most especially with what is going on in other countries regarding protectionism and resentment of immigrants?

It is inconceivable to imagine that a country for which Nelson Mandela dedicated most of his life to free from Apartheid is the one now which has turned against those same Africans who helped in the ANC struggle to liberate themselves from the White minority.  What is interesting when you listen to the clip is that the white policemen are the ones who are quelling the blacks who are attacking the blacks as black policemen look on apparently with pride.

You can make a difference by reporting to local authorities wherever you are in South Africa and take note of the case number (file number), documentation needed for future prosecution of the criminals. Might I caution that you do this only when you feel safe.  In the meantime please use any social media at your disposal to inform others.

If it is not happening to you today, you are not safe tomorrow. They will come for you next no matter which colour. All it takes is someone to frame you or yell "drug dealer", "thief!"..,

Martha Leah Nangalama
Moncton, Canada
Twitter: @mlnangalama
Skype: mlnangalama
WhatsApp +5068716371

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