Wednesday, May 28, 2008

South African madness--Africa needs an apology

Ladies and gentlemen, the most despicable yet unsurprising thing has happened. Native South Africans have turned their guns on African immigrants in their country. Last week, up to 50 people were murdered by these marauding mobs, compelling Ndugu Mbeki to send the army onto the streets.
What do you call this irony? Consider that not less than two decades ago, Most of Africa was concerned about the suppression of the black community under the apartheid system, offering sanctuary to dissident South Africans and even funding the anti-apartheid struggle.
African countries in the UN compelled the body to impose sanctions, even when it was clear that countries like Britain were not warming to the idea. (Thatcher was doing arms business with the apartheid regime).
In Uganda, the struggle against apartheid, became so engaging that we even selected books on anti-apartheid like Ale La Guma’s “In the Fog of the Seasons’ End” to run on our syllabus. Do you guys remember that we also read “A Wreath for Udomo” and for more sophiscated people like Alex Balimwikungu, “Sizwe Bansi is Dead”?
So, why does a country that owes it current freedom and economic prosperity get the right to clobber and murder people who helped it get there? Of course one may argue that what we saw was not State-sanctioned violence. But surely, this is a point that should not be lost even to the densest of a South African.
And I was right on economic prosperity. The majority workers in South African mines were immigrants. And as we all know it is these mines that have put South Africa to the economic threshold it is on today.
The least South Africans can do is apologise to the rest of Africa and promise what we saw will not happen again.
I sought out the views of my fourth generation South African friend, Khadija Mohamed on this and below was her reply. Read the thoughts of a South African on this. And know that I value your replies…so please, post comments.

Regarding the xenophobic crisis: Firstly, it shouldn’t be seen as a sudden uprising but rather as a gradual amalgamation of other issues facing the country, poverty, crime and unemployment. I’ll share with you comments from a columnist of the local Times daily: ” South Africans, we have an attitude of entitlement. We think that the world owes us something.... directly or indirectly, (we) think apartheid is something to hold on to so that we can be viewed as victims and everything should be smooth sailing for us.Here we are 14 years since the beginning of democracy in South Africa and we are still holding onto 1976.”
It sounds harsh, but I can back much of what she is saying through my own experiences.
In the same edition of the paper, a report on Jacob Zuma’s visit to one the xenophobic hotspots (as it's now called): “... the atmosphere became tense when someone interrupted Zuma’s opening remarks to ask why the meeting was being held in a predominantly Indian, upmarket suburb....
"Zuma and others who went into exile stayed in the camps in (Zimbabwe and Mozambique), they were not all over the place like here," a resident said.
The man went on to tell Zuma that the reason Mozambicans were targeted was 'because bosses put them in charge over us at work. This is because every time the white man says 'Do this,' the Shangaan (Mozambican) says. 'Yes, baas (boss)'."

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