South Africa xenophobia a threat to Africa's cohesion, economy

In 1994, South Africa became a new nation. Born out of democratic elections and inaugurated as the ‘Rainbow Nation’ by one icon, Nelson Mandela.

In 1994, South Africa became a new nation. Born out of democratic elections and inaugurated as the ‘Rainbow Nation’ by one icon, Nelson Mandela. 

The ‘new South Africa’ represented a fundamental shift in the social, political and geographical landscapes of the past. Unity had replaced segregation, equality had replaced legislated racism and democracy had replaced apartheid.

Struggle to ensure a South Africa of freedom and equality was won through African Unity and Harmony. The multi-racial South Africa was fought for by progressive forces from different regions. Cuba supported the armed struggles of liberation movements of South Africa.

In Angola, the battle of Cuito Cuanavale changed the region’s political landscape, accelerating the independence of Namibia and the fall of apartheid in South Africa. Foreign nationals soldiered along with the country to end a longstanding journey of oppression.

Along this narrow road, the Rainbow Nation has quickly forgotten all these and became a podium of violence against African’s own race. The world has woken up to re-discover that xenophobia is another major challenge after apartheid – the biggest let down for the continent.

It is very unfortunate that as we are past the 20th year anniversary of the fall of the apartheid, South Africa remains one of the most violent societies on the globe.

The current recurring attacks against African migrants in South Africa, and looting and destruction of their property might be read as one more indication of how the Rainbow Nation’s dream has faltered.

The achievement that did not only symbolise a multi-ethnic South Africa, but one where living in dignity was then shared across racial and class lines has been trashed.

South Africa’s violence and deadly attacks against innocent immigrants and foreigners must be condemned in the strongest terms possible.  It is a serious disappointment for our continent to host another gloomy occurrence that poses irreversible threat to peace, security and stability in Africa.

We cannot cultivate a new Africa of mutuality and brotherhood when the properties of foreigners in South Africa are being looted by muggers and assailants.

The prevailing intolerance in South Africa is costly and detrimental to our destiny as a continent and it must provoke all of us, especially key stakeholders, to derive an urgent remedy to this atrocious predicament.

A divisive Africa will only exacerbate our existing predicaments and relegate us to a shameful status of extreme poverty and mockery. An Africa of vandalism is not an option and must never be during our lifetime, lest we throw our great strides we have made to the dogs.

A xenophobic Africa is a road for endless hostility and economic retrogression. The continent has had enough of traumatizing situations and it makes no sense for its inhabitants to begin another poisonous war.

There are many security challenges – extremism and terrorism – already befalling the continent. Consequently, while other continents are making genuine progress in all sectors of life, Africa still lies in shambles and shackles.

The continent’s envisioned economic stability will only be achieved if we foster peace and unity. We need to leverage comparative economic advantages by promoting region-building and regional integration which are essential to sustainable development.

Regional and sub-regional organizations, like EAC, ECOWAS, IGAD, SADC, must now strategically promote political and socio-economic inclusion in African countries.

The need for citizens in their states to access equal opportunities is a fundamental right but must be pursued without harassing and discriminating against others.

The days of reducing dissatisfaction into brutality and bloodletting are gone and South Africans must redefine their struggle in this time and age. South African leaders should take a stand and make it clear how they plan to avert the scourge of xenophobic violence today and in the future.

Every country’s citizens move all over the world and there is no single state that hosts purely its citizens. It is notable that many Africans continue to move to other continents for better opportunities.

It is high time that South Africans learn that if the same weapon is used against them then the pinch would be greater. Imagining how many companies, experts and South African businesses are there around the world; the number is big and obviously contributes to their economy and that of Africa at large.

South Africans have a national duty to demand socio-economic change from their government, instead of transferring their misery and frustration onto peaceful foreign inhabitants who have done nothing wrong. 

It is regrettable and pathetic this is happening today when we surely need greater cohesion to overcome the turbulences of socio-economic development as a continent.

Finally, as the world gradually moves towards the compass of globalisation and modernisation, the spirit of continental solidarity and regional harmony must be priority.

Regional blocs like the East African Community, which stands tall among the best case studies, must now be used as the pillar of forestalling such lamentable acts of disintegration. Our countries should foster unity and stop any seed of discrimination, division, or repression!