Xenophobia has been on the lips of many, but most people don’t know what it means. It is important we understand this reality and how it affects South Africa and the foreigners in the country.
In the past few days, South Africa has been in the news for the killing and the destruction of properties experienced in the country.
While we know that the series of attack is targeted at foreigners in the country, This is not the first time these kinds of attacks are perpetrated in South Africa.
The number of people killed or injured and the properties lost during the recent episode has not been confirmed yet. All we know, however, is the fact that many people have lost their lives and properties worth millions have been destroyed.
Nigerians online and offline have been reacting to the attacks. While some understand to a reasonable extent what Xenophobia means, while others have misconstrued the concept as it relates to South Africa.
What is Xenophobia?
Xenophobia is a fear or hatred a certain people or citizen of a particular country have against foreigners or strangers. it is the ill-feeling an indigenous group have against another set of people who are not a member of such a group. It is simply a form of dislike for foreigners, their culture and custom.
The expression of Xenophobia has taken different dimensions. It could involve mere hatred, disdain, attack, killing and even illegal expulsion from the country.
Xenophobia Is Not Exclusive To South Africa
Xenophobia is not a crime against humanity only South Africans are guilty of. Many countries all over the world have experienced xenophobic attacks. For instance, Nigerians and other Africans have been attacked in India, Indonesia and even in Togo, Ghana, etc. In fact, Nigerians exhibited their xenophobic tendency in the 1970s when they asked Ghanaians to leave their country with “Ghana must go”
While it is believed that the earlier recorded episode of Xenophobic attack started in Greece, The Jewish Holocaust in the hand of the Germans is still fresh in our historical memory. You will also realize that Muslims and Sikhs in Northern America have been experiencing explicit forms of xenophobic attacks since the beginning of war against terror in 2001.
This is not the first time this is happening
This is not the first time foreign nationals are attacked by angry South Africans. African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) has been tracking the incidence of Xenophobic attack since 1994 after the return of the country to majority rule.
In 2008, there was a wave of attacks across the country against refugees and migrants – more than 60 people were reported to have been killed and thousands displaced.
There has been news of random killing and attacks of Nigerian and other African National in time past. Over a thousand foreigners have reportedly been killed as a result of the attacks on foreigners.
Racism and Xenophobia are Interrelated
Racism and Xenophobia are forms of discrimination and they are interrelated. Xenophobia is fear and hatred for people who are not members of once society, while racism is a form of discrimination based on the physical attribute of the persons in question.
According to UNESCO, the terms xenophobia and racism often overlap, but differ in how the latter encompasses prejudice based on physical characteristics while the former is generally centered on behavior based on the notion of a specified people being adverse to the culture or nation.
Foreigners are not to blame for the economic woes of South Africa
The fact the South Africans are blaming foreigners, especially Africans migrant for their economic woes is ridiculous. There is a need for South Africans to look into wealth distribution in their country. A country where white minority control more than 80 percent of the wealth of the country. African migrants are only shop keepers and mid-management professionals who are in no competition with South African Indigenes.
In the Words of Trevor Noah: “If you feel undeserved in wealth distribution, please research again who controls that wealth and it has nothing to do with some Nigerian, Zimbabwean or Mozambican working in a restaurant or an Ethiopian running a small shop, or a Ghanaian mechanic working hard in the sun,”
The worst part of this is that South African are after African migrant and not people from outside the continent
Nigerians are not the only victims in South Africa
There is the popular notion that the victims of the xenophobic attack in South Africa are only Nigerians. This is not true. Other African nations, like, Somalia, Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwean, Mozambican have had their own share of the attack.
South African Government Lives in Denial
The denial of the South African government about the reality of Xenophobic attack is frightened. Even though it is evident that the attack is motivated by hatred for foreigners, the government have continued to attribute the attack to criminal activities. The South African government should be courageous enough to acknowledge what this really is.
Xenophobia in South Africa Could Be Post Apartheid Depression
South Africans are still grappling with the emotional impact of oppression and apartheid. The suffering of the people of the country in the hands of white minorities seemed to be taking its tow on them. Since the white minority gave them political freedom, they are still under economic oppression and they have nobody to blame other than hard-working African immigrants in their country