Africa…. We love you. I am sorry.

2015-04-19 08:40

My sincere apologies, we have disappointed you. I am embarrassed, we have hurt you. I’m sorry that we forgot that we are one. We are African before we are South African. Whenever I hear the word Xenophobia, one image comes to mind. I think of 2008, I think of that mob in Ramaphosa setting alight a Mozambican man. I am sorry Ernesto Nhamuave. Your wife still waits for justice for that barbaric act.

This is not “us”, we do not kill people. I have a friend in Barcelona and I struggled to explain to her what exactly is happening because I don’t understand it myself.  We are destroying the families of our own.  We are harming our own. We are killing our own.  Can the anger and aggression blur the vision of our people? Africa is one. We rely on each other and that keeps us strong. The rest of Africa stood with us when we were still fighting for freedom. Many anti-apartheid activists fled to other African countries for safety.  It’s our duty to stand with them now that there are wars, conflict and poverty in their countries.

I can understand that we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. I can also understand that we have families to feed and children to send to school but I will never understand how someone could pour petroleum on a person and set them alight. What are we doing?!

This goes back to one of our fundamental issues in South Africa and that is education. We need more educational programmes in place to educate illiterate South Africans about the catastrophic conditions of other African countries which compel foreign nationals to come in to our country. They are not here by choice. Chasing them back to their countries is not a solution as most of them will die.

Unfortunately we live in a country where we do not want to the see the next person succeed. I always felt this is one of our biggest weaknesses. We need to understand that South Africa does not live in isolation. We all need each other. Such brutal acts of xenophobia will yield negative consequences upon the country. South Africa has trade relations with many other African countries. Many of our sports teams visit these countries. Many of the South African artists visit these countries to do shows, many of the South African franchises operate in other African countries to grow their business. If South African products and companies in other African countries can be boycotted the country can lose billions.

Unfortunately African leaders speak more about the surrounding countries than their own. Such hate speech that undermines other African countries plays a role in putting doubt in the people living there.

This should be a wake-up call for every stakeholder in the South African economy, we need to address unemployment. Sometimes it takes a moment of major injustice for us to wake up and identify the real issues in our country. Until today, the norm at most universities is to get a degree and work in the corporate life, we are not encouraging young people to enter various industries and become successful entrepreneurs. We need to also put pressure on our government to either open up new branches of employment and if that is not possible we should request that they implement control measures to limit the influx of “foreign nationals” and find alternative countries for the remaining foreign nationals.

Intercultural communication is vital for us to grow as young people in this country and in Africa. Xenophobia is evil and we should all say #NoToXenophobia

Africa I am sorry…

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