The tragedy we regret is that which visits us uninvited. But xenophobia is a tragedy that we, ourselves, invite. We must introspect because we have done ourselves wrong.
We are caught up in a “Catch 22” situation and that is a situation when, for example, “a desired outcome is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently contradictory rules or conditions”: to prosper, you need foreign expertise but foreigners take jobs from you! And locals get upset when foreigners accept jobs that locals avoid then do a lot of good with it.
African countries have little to show but spout a lot of talk about how they fought and won against colonialists; they are so very desperate to show that they are “free” and “independent”. But they have to keep up the rhetoric and find themselves in a Catch 22 situation whereby admitting that they are not free would end their political careers yet continuing to believe otherwise makes the people get angrier by the day.
We hear the same old chaff, not only from the political leadership in Zimbabwe and South Africa, but from other early presidents of newly “liberated” African countries who,┬á always talk about “our hard won independence” whilst there is no independence or freedom to talk about. South Africa did not fight any war of liberation, yet they insult past colonial masters because current political lords have no clue about what they are doing. That, in my opinion, is why most African countries continue on the downward spiral to socio-political decay.
Events in South Africa in the past three weeks have shown the shallowness of our intentions. Even Africans themselves could not deny the situation before us. Those of us who wanted to see the best out of Africa are disappointed because we do not understand the hatred which appears directed at fellow Africans but not any other race like Indians or whites.
Now I understand that, to South Africans, black people are migrants, while Europeans, Asians and Indians are expatriates. The Xenophobic attacks have resurfaced once again in South Africa, leaving many injured, homeless and emotionally spent not to mention the physical wounds.
It is African against African.
Meanwhile up north in Libya, more than 500 migrants have died in less than 10 days, in three separate incidents of ships capsizing as people try to run away from Africa. The Mediterranean Sea is claiming African lives as we flee our rich continent for European shores for better political, social and economic conditions.
News coming out of South Africa paints a bad picture of life in Africa. The savages who are not only looting but killing other Africans have broken the camaraderie that used to exist between South Africa and many other countries that helped South Africa to their freedom and God knows how much Botswana suffered while sheltering South Africans.
I was young but I remember the extra precautions my father always took when he was a television news reporter and when we ended up housing half of the South African gospel group, the Holy Spirits, in our home only for the government to warn us about possible attacks because the South African government considered any of its black citizens outside its borders as a potential threat.
Both South Africa and its leadership are at fault and have always been at fault. When Julius Malema spoke in Parliament he was talking more as an opposition party member than a believer in the wrong done by his fellow South Africans. But South Africa and Botswana carry the heaviest burden of “foreigners” in their country and most of them are Zimbabweans.┬á Southern Africa or the SADC region has enjoyed relative political stability over the past few years, except for Zimbabwe. But no one is looking because both SADC and the African Union have Mugabe as their Chairman so who will really bother to take any issue in Africa to the AU or to SADC?
Thousands of people are fleeing war torn countries and hard economic conditions in their countries. Zimbabwe has about 3 million of its citizens in South Africa and countless more in Botswana. Why are Libyans, Ghanaians, Ivorians, Malians, Ethiopians, etc. risking death while fleeing their own countries to reach Europe? Bad leadership at home!
In many ways, xenophobia is a result of poor leadership.
Africa has stagnated in socio-economic and political development mainly because its leadership is very short-sighted and self-centered. We cannot run away from that.
South Africans are fighting for scarce resources with foreigners and this results in tension. It is incumbent upon the South African leadership to get the message across to all the citizens that their country needs others because diversity is the collective strength of any country. It is better to leave in the tension of diversity than in the comfort of homogeneity.
Our diversity as Africans must become a source of productivity rather than a struggle.┬á The future of Africa is in our hands. None but ourselves are going to retrieve Africa from this precipice of disaster because South Africans might not be aware that, without Africa, they are absolutely nothing. What we need are leaders and not rulers.
Bad governance has driven Africa into a state of socio-political and religious strife. This is time for leaders to show their mantle or else we become co-authors of our own misfortune.