South Africa’s Scandalous Shame

by M.O. Ene

A steady influx of millions of immigrants, both legal and illegal, has undoubtely formented resentment in South Africa, where the current unemployment rate hovers at 29%. According to a 2018 Pew Research poll, about 62% of South Africans believe that immigrants, with the majority of them hailing from other African nations, are taking their jobs. This view has precipitated attacks on other Africans. Since 2000, there have been sporadic xenophobic attacks on African immigrants that has resulted in death and loss of property, but recent attacks have been brutal and ugly.

Commentaries on the on-going scandal in South Africa are dozens-a-dime. The violence may seem common, since there is always a bloody battle out of Africa.

Sadly, this is not a common commotion; it is self-hating sacrilege, a crime against humanity tacitly supported by the government of President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa.

Those who compare the killings with the expulsion of African immigrants elsewhere liken burning pepper to bland paprika.

South Africa is free to expel its immigrants. Alas, the government outsourced the honor to hordes of hostile hostel habitants to hunt and hack hardworking immigrants to death.

Nothing excuses the murderous mob killings of fellow Africans. It does not matter what the immigrants did. No group of non-state actors has the right to visit immigrants with such heinous violence. We can no longer stomach the sight of gangsters’ rubber-roasting people on the streets.

This is the major difference with every other exclusion of emigrants elsewhere. The scandalous shame in South Africa is not xenophobia; it is targeted domestic terrorism.

“Xenophobia” is now commonly used to characterize the suspicion of other people and or their influences on a supposedly native population, especially when the influences tend to threaten the culture of a dominant group.

A vigilante mob attacks a Nigerian migrant outside a church in Pretoria, Feb 18, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

A people who fear that they will lose their individual identity, ethnic entity, economic expansion, and or presumed purity may develop xenophobic tendencies against groups that are newer to the place of present habitation.

Thus, xenophobia as an irrational fear of foreigners may apply to hatred inspired by fear of losing out in a dynamic society.

In the Americas, Asia, and Europe, no country is free from fear of the influx of foreigners. The reasons and specifics vary, but relocation is a fact of life.

Beyond the education on the etymology of ‘xenophobia,’ the documented and gruesome killings are symptoms of deeper domestic problems. Poor South Africans are taking out their frustrations on equally poor immigrants.

It is misplaced hate because less than 20% of the population who controls over 90% of the wealth is mostly of Asian and European ethnic extractions.

South Africans need fellow Africans to help them roll back decades of disadvantages from the post-Apartheid policies that have failed to deliver the dividends of democracy in post-Mandela years.

The evacuation of African immigrants is an admission that the government of South Africa is content with the so-called “xenophobic attacks.” It may not be obvious at this point, but how does one explain the reverse-apartheid policy of excluding black Africans and letting Asians and Europeans be? The ongoing demonstrations against the killings are laudable.

However, the looting and destruction of South African businesses and other anti-social outbreaks are primitive, self-serving, and counterproductive. The African Union (AU) should step up and condemn the killings strongly.

South Africa cannot allow gangsters to execute African nationals, whether they are legal or not. If the government cannot curb the menace of murdering mobsters and stop these senseless slaughters, AU should consider an indictment and ostracization of Ramaphosa and the deployment of diplomatic and economic sanctions against his government.

The lessons to learn from the South Africa’s scandalous shame are many.

It is a wake-up call for Africans abroad to build more studied and cohesive communities for the advancement of modern African diasporas. They need to employ consular and cultural soft powers to cultivate political influences.

Depending on the stories of assistance rendered during the anti-Apartheid struggles does not hold much water: To many of these young adults, what they see is what they know.

Many Africans in South Africa are far removed from the killings.

The criminal cartels, drug dealers, pompous pimps, and flimflam fraudsters complicate the violent-street situations, thus allowing vigilantes and bad cops to fuel the homicidal impulses.

The savagery and senseless slaughters are not mere prejudicial xenophobia; they are crimes against humanity. If xenophobia has a shade for the extermination of foreigners, then what happened in South Africa is the peak, the zenith of xenophobia.

It should be the peak; the slaughters must not endure.

Enough is enough.

The writer, Dr. M.O Ene is an accomplished author and an international scholar at Seton Hall University, South Orange New Jersey

Posted by on Sep 20 2019. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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