Can someone please explain this xenophobia in South Africa?

This last week, media screens have flashed images of black South Africans execute violent acts on other black people, though not South Africans. Black people from other countries in Africa. I have seen people petrol bombed in their shops. I have seen images of bloodied heads and faces. I have seen images of angry mobs walking through the streets, mpangas and other weapons in tow, ready to lash out at any foreigner. But more so the Black foreigner.

These people have come to South Africa for a number of reasons – school, work, business, economic opportunity, refuge. They came to South Africa to live their lives, but are now being punished for making such a decision.

It’s black on black crime like we’ve never seen before. Actually, we’ve seen this before. In 2008, 2011, oh, 2014 and 2015. It happens year after year in South Africa with no end to this horrific attitude in sight.

It appears the Black South Africans are angry because other Africans have come to South Africa to take away opportunities that rightfully ‘belong’ to them. This latest upsurge in violence is as a result of King Goodwill Zwelithini’s comments that foreigners must go back to their homelands. Of course, the Zulu king has denied it, claiming his comments have been distorted but the damage has been done, and one cannot deny that even if his comments have been taken wrongly, there is an amount of anti-foreign sentiment there.

Why? Why can a country like South Africa resort to these awful acts? In their apartheid days, black South Africans were harboured in many African countries – Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya. All the countries in southern Africa rallied together, sometimes at the peril of their own stability, to ensure South Africa’s freedom. Lives were lost in South Africa fighting apartheid. Lives were lost outside of South Africa, too. And yet, these people, who have their political freedom because of us, are now beating and battering us as though none of that happened, but also as though it’s okay to treat humans like that. Black South Africans are attacking foreigners, burning their homes and businesses to make a point. And the point is this:

You are taking over our country.

You are taking our jobs.

You are taking what should be ours.

South Africans have found themselves competing with foreign nationals on a number of fronts and with the history of marginalisation, perhaps it was all too much. The government wasn’t protecting their jobs, houses or opportunities but bringing in even more foreigners. They took matters into their own hands. Regardless, it’s shocking. And I don’t understand it.

What I do know, is this should not be accepted. Governments are not taking a large enough stand against xenophobic attacks against their nationals, probably because the region depends so heavily on South African goods and investment that boycotting SA investments and products would cripple their own economies.

These are human rights violations on a grand scale and I would like to see South Africa penalised for this. I would also like to see the foreigners repatriated to their own countries. Get out. Malawi has begun bussing its people back to Nyasaland. Good. I hope they stay home.

Next should be Zambia, or Zimbabwe. And let all other African countries follow suit. Then we’ll see who’s left in South Africa. We’ll see how well their economy would run, how well their services will be managed and delivered.

And then we’ll see who will be targeted next.

Because it seems to me, these are just angry people who have the residues of apartheid left in their souls and cannot be freed from that grip.

But they don’t see it.


The Easter Egg Hunt

It was a sunny April Saturday. Eight children aged two to eight bounced around, brimming with anticipation. They knew eggs were hidden around the yard and they couldn’t wait to find them.

Soon, they were off!

Twisting their tiny hands through the leaves of trees to find treasured chocolate eggs. Reaching up in the branches or on the wall to grab the marshmallow treats. And twenty minutes later, it was over. This little team of hunters is efficient and thorough. Their baskets are filled and they are ecstatic. There is more chocolate and candy here than they wished for, and it’s all theirs!

To help the hunt along and to guide the younger kids to some treasure are four parents – two men, two women. As the kids bring their baskets around to count who found the most eggs, the parents gather, too, equally expectant. Each child patiently waits their turn to tip over their basket and take account of their find. A little envy for the fuller baskets.

One younger child dives right in and rips apart a chocolate wrapper, setting in motion the trend that all the kids have been waiting for – eating the eggs!

As quickly as it all started, one parent jumps in to bring some order. Of course they would, they’re a parent. “Wait, wait. Let’s put all the eggs together and share.”

“No, no,” said another parent. “They eat what they kill.”

The socialist vs the capitalist.

Who would have thought an age-old conflict would present itself at a children’s activity?

The parents stopped, laughed and jokingly debated – are we here to teach lessons about achievement and rewards? Is the best method equal participation should get equal rewards? Should the younger children receive a smaller portion of the spoils because they are younger?

I was fascinated, albeit for a brief moment, by the differing philosophies and approaches and even wondered if it was the correct forum to even teach lessons. Isn’t this supposed to be about fun? Easter is philosophical enough without lessons of capitalism vs socialism.

What further interested me was the gender split in the friendly conflict. The female parent wanted the children to share. The male parent was clearly the capitalist and both presented valid points to support their agendas. I suppose it can be said that women tend to consider the collective much more than men do. Men definitely exhibit more caveman hunter-and-gatherer traits than do the women-folk.

In a group like this with children of different ages, women are more likely to ensure everyone is fairly treated, and I’ve seen men hold back a bit, displaying a ‘let them fend for themselves approach.’ If extrapolated to economic models, perhaps these could be grouped as socialist and capitalist traits.

In the meantime, the smartest people among us, snuck away with handfuls of candy and started chomping away. Yeah, that’s where the real fun is at. A marshmallow, please…