#Article (Archive)

We Are All Africans

May 23, 2008, 4:03 AM

It is very disheartening to read that Violence against foreigners in South Africa has spread outside Johannesburg to the port city of Durban.

The violence has prompted about 700 African migrants to seek refuge in a church while in Cape Town a safety forum has been set up to try to prevent violence.

In Johannesburg police fired rubber bullets to disperse mobs in one area.

At least 23 people have been killed, and ministers have been discussing using troops to quell the violence.

The violence will be particularly upsetting for those who hold the ideal of pan Africanism close to their hearts as the attacks are little more than an orgy of xenophobia.

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation estimates that at least 30,000 have been displaced around Johannesburg.

There are believed to be between three and five million foreigners living in South Africa, most of them Zimbabweans fleeing poverty and violence at home. These people need to be protected rather than persecuted and the fact they are not shows a frightening lack of fellow feeling or empathy on the part of those engaged in the violence. While the root cause of the violence is not entirely clear many say that some South Africans say foreigners are taking jobs from locals and contributing to crime. The Unemployment rate in South Africa stands at 30%. This is very high and means that a lot of people are in desperate situations. When people are in these situations they will often look for a scapegoat and unfortunately for the foreign population in the country they are it.

It must be impressed on these people that we are all Africans and should unite for our common good rather than waste our energy in needless violence.

President Thabo Mbeki has urged South Africans to welcome foreigners. He is correct and his people should heed him but he also must do his best for them and ensure that there are jobs and that people can avoid getting caught in the poverty trap.


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