The Fundamentals of the Fear of the Foreigner

2015-04-21 07:16

Xenophobia should be abhorrent to us all. Xenophobia manifests itself in persons who believe that if they do not act against the pariah, they will lose their identity, commodities and liberties to those who are “less deserving”, thus by eliminating the problem they will in turn secure their purity and land. It is this narcissistic, ignorant, selfish being that is not equipped with empathy for their fellow man that senselessly massacres and destroys lives of migrant minorities in order to ascertain control over what he believes belongs to him and him alone.

The attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa will never be justified or condoned. It is however pertinent to understand the lack of African unity prevalent today in this country begins with many of the perpetrators attacking Africans due to not have equal opportunities with regard to education, employment, business opportunities, or access to justice and to government services. There are also lacunae’s in our legislation and policies that have allowed for the killings to take place with little to no reprimand being executed against those who have undertaken to take the implementation of cross border migration into their own hands. We have to acknowledge that it is the culmination of the lack of solutions to their socio-economic problems on a national and provincial level, the lack of understanding of cross border control, education and information that has led persons to believe that all people of colour from outside South Africa are here illegally and exacerbating their problems.

This has created an assumption that all Africans that are not South Africans are not only here illegally but are classified as rapists, thieves and criminals whom have crept across borders to arrive in this country. This is evidence of a deteriorating society slithering down a slippery slope of madness due to a lack of solutions for incessant issues that have been failed to be resolved since the end of the Apartheid era.

Immediate measures have to be implemented in order to stifle the uprising of Xenophobia in our cities and streets. Effective and efficient cross border migration and control mechanism, which monitor the influx of persons who enter the country and how long they stay are effective measures that can be used and need to be reviewed. In refugee and asylum seekers cases, the decisions are always more precarious but once made, then more should be done to assimilate refugees, asylum seekers and migrants socially and culturally into the community. A legal framework which works together with foreigners and nationals that focuses on changing policies of cross border migration will be able to provide for a humane and manageable approach to determining whether or not people are here legally and on the correct permit/VISA thus alleviating some of the outrage. In the event that a person is in the country illegally, independent mechanisms such as security officials, courts and personnel should be notified and used to determine whether or not the person/family should be deported - instead of their lives being left to the mercy of opportunistic looters.

The government needs to stress the seriousness of racist and xenophobic manifestations not only once the attacks occur but on a routine basis. This should occur at places of entries such as airports and bus terminals where there should be meticulous amounts of information available to signify the importance of upholding human rights, accompanied with the presence of human rights organizations to explain what it truly means to all be equal in a rainbow nation.

Ethically, we need to engage in discussions that highlight the deep-rooted problems that many people in the communities possess. Many people are under the misconception that foreigners are taking away their jobs and owning their stores yet they are failing to observe that this work ethic contributes to economic growth and addresses rural development. These are some of the topics that need to be discussed in the community that should be led by independent personnel who will provide the platform to allow persons to disseminate their views from both parties so that we can understand the root causes for Xenophobia and address them directly.

Although in our technological era these discussions are had on social media, and I am strong a supporter for social media advocacy and the positive effects that social media may have in circulating news and views; we often find that social media is a platform for the privileged and marginalizes the poor and those who truly effected due to not having access to the resources (e.g. computers, Wi-Fi, data charges, smart-phones). It is important that those who are in townships, both foreign and national, and who have to live through these ordeals everyday are given the chance to voice their concerns and are educated on the possible solutions and strategies that will be put in place to assist them going forward. It is also important that we promote combating Xenophobia by constructing egalitarian multiculturalism that upholds cultural diversity and use this as a tool to fight the misnomers surrounding Xenophobia as well as racism.

Nonetheless it is still pivotal that the media engages with society on an autonomous level and eliminates prejudices by discouraging the promulgation of stereotypes regarding migrants and minorities in the community. It is the stereotypes of Nigerians being drug lords and Pakistani’s owning all convenience stores which have permeated through society and desensitized people to the fact that they are people and not everyone can be categorized in the same box based purely on where they come from.

Xenophobia should be abhorrent to us all – but its not. It is of a greater concern that a country, which was plagued with Apartheid and institutionalized racism, would fail to see the irony in entering into eruption of violence for inequality 21 years later. But we should look forward and note that there are many lessons that need to be learned from the atrocities that have shrouded the streets of South Africa. Spreading stereotypes, lies and fomenting a hate for one another will only end in anguish and uncontrollable violence.

The hatred towards our fellow Africans exacerbates the marginalization of minorities and propagates falsehoods that will lead us further from ascertaining a democratic nation that is founded on peace, equality and freedom of movement. Those who are in the public eye have a burden to bear to not use their platforms to incite violence, hate and disregard for persons of a different race, culture, sexual orientation or gender. Instead, to use ones influence to be able to disseminate positive knowledge. This must be done with the understanding that the lack of African unity is not one, which will go away with the use of a simple hash tag but with the promotion of policy changes, legal advocacy and finding a leader who will not only acknowledge our downfalls but also incite in us the ability join together in unity to rise above the despotic rule to which we have sorely fallen.

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