Some weeks ago, I watched the most horrifying video of my life. Some Nigerians were roasted alive in faraway South Africa. They said that it was xenophobia, hatred for strangers. I was hurt, I was traumatized, I could not sleep, I could not eat,I was angry, I wanted revenge, I was frustrated to the point where I also started hating South Africans. I have one South African friend. I hated her. I wanted the government to give South Africans 24 hours to leave Nigeria. I wanted MTN, the South African Embassy and Multichoice to be shut down. I was angry that envoy had been sent to South Africa. They should be the ones coming over to beg, I said to myself.
Several weeks later, I am learning that Nigerians go to South Africa and commit terrible crimes starting with drug trafficking. When a non-citizen impregnates a South African woman who is not his wife, he gets citizenship. Nigerians took good advantage of this to the hilt and started collecting women from South African men. Furthermore, Nigerians went there to be showing themselves. They go there with our culture of make money, oppress the poor by showing them your wealth and showing them how poor they are. There is no reason for killing another human being like you so this is not enough to incite xenophobia. However, Nigerians ignored the history of the black people of South Africa. The history of struggle against white supremacy, violence and denigrating poverty.
When Hitler decided to kill the Jews, it was not in that moment. It was something he had harboured in his mind for a long time against a group of people. So is the South African xenophobia. It was a build –up with many components. Just when South Africans were “liberated”, they became faced with other blacks coming in to take up the few jobs and wealth creation opportunities. They were confronted with competition and neo-colonialism by other Africans. Or so it seemed.
Let us examine what xenophobia closely and what can trigger it. It is the hatred or dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries. What led to xenophobia in South Africa? Let us read the following excerpt from News 24 to better understand the story:
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If one goes back to early ’90s, before the dawn of democracy in South Africa. There were quite a number of foreign nationals who emigrated to South Africa in search of better living. These people included Somalis, Pakistanis, Zimbabweans, to mention but a few. Their arrival to the country happened when there was high expectations from the ANC-led government post ’94 elections. The new government had to deliver on many issues including the creation of jobs, building houses for the poor, providing equal education for all etc. The injustices of the apartheid era had to be corrected.
So the promises were made, and the voters expected the new government to deliver on their promises. Bear in mind, the number of foreigners who came to South Africa was on the rise. Somalis for example, who emigrated to the country in the early ‘90s after the civil war that broke out in Somalia, emerged across the country and their businesses dominated especially in the informal sector. Unemployment kept rising, the majority of South Africans still lived in squatter camps with no running water and sanitation, most of the schools in remote areas had pupils learning under trees. The top echelons of government started weakening due to corrupt public servants.
But such things were bound to happen especially when you have a government that is thankless. A government that had no plan to prioritize its citizens. A government that had no strict controls over foreign nationals who come and leave the country at will today,
1) Over 32000 Somalis live in South Africa as per Home Affairs Department, and this is surely underestimated as many of them come into the country illegally. They have taken control of small businesses in most of the townships especially in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape.
2) Over 250000 Nigerians live in South Africa. These people enjoy a better living in the suburbs and in town centres.
3) We have ‘China Cities’ in South Africa.
If you go around Johannesburg, most of the companies have relocated to Sandton because of the influx of foreign nationals in the cities. These people are all over the country. Many of them are self-employed, they own businesses. Somalis have flourishing businesses; they sell goods at lower prices to beat competition. And while South Africans complain about the high levels of unemployment, the foreigners have a lower rate of unemployment. Because they are most likely to take jobs that South Africans are reluctant to take. That is why there’s been a constant increase of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
It is a failure on the part of government to meet the needs of its citizens. They come to voters when its election time and make empty promises. They spent most of last year (2014) fighting in Parliament instead of dealing with issues that are confronting South Africans. The majority of the youth is finding it hard to make ends meet due to unemployment, the poor is still trapped in destitute communities. The very same voters are expected to compete with foreigners in getting jobs. xenophobia attacks come as a result of frustration from the voters, hence they are on a rampage. The government needs to pay a heed to the burning issues like service delivery matters, among many. The time has come for our political leaders to walk the talk, and deliver on their promises. Or watch the country succumbing to a possible civil war.
The forgoing gives us a peep into the happenings in South Africas the circumstances that led to the attacks on non-citizens.
Our topic is going to look at xenophobia and acculturalization. According to Wikipedia, acculturation is a process of social, psychological, and cultural change that stems from the balancing of two cultures while adapting to the prevailing culture of the society. Acculturation is a process in which an individual adopts, acquires and adjust to a new cultural environment. Individuals of a differing culture try to incorporate themselves into the new more prevalent culture by participating in aspects of the more prevalent culture, such as their traditions, but still hold onto their original cultural values and traditions. This, we shall discuss further next week.