Xenophobia: South Africa is cutting the hand that nurtured it

Editor, Allow me to react to Kenneth Agutamba’s article, “When Africans turn against each other” (The New Times, April 19). As a child growing up in a rural neighbourhood, I was fortunate enough to have had access to some international stories courtesy of my father and the BBC.
Attacks on foreign nationals, which have left at least seven people dead and more than 5,000 displaced, started in Durban in early April and spread to other parts of South Africa. (Net photo)
Attacks on foreign nationals, which have left at least seven people dead and more than 5,000 displaced, started in Durban in early April and spread to other parts of South Africa. (Net photo)

Editor,

Allow me to react to Kenneth Agutamba’s article, “When Africans turn against each other” (The New Times, April 19).

As a child growing up in a rural neighbourhood, I was fortunate enough to have had access to some international stories courtesy of my father and the BBC. Some of the stories that I keenly followed was Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the resulting Gulf War.

Another keen and closer story to my heart was Apartheid in South Africa.

In my little mind, I remember equating anything bad to Frederik de Klerk and anything right to Nelson Mandela.

The first satellite television that I watched was courtesy of DStv, a South African giant, and not forgetting that the first affordable and leading telecom corporation in Uganda is MTN, another of the many giants of South Africa trotting around Africa.

We basically consume South African products almost on a daily basis; from the phone calls, to the primetime news in our living rooms and even some wines on some weekends.

It’s unfortunate that the first causalities of xenophobia in South Africa were Ethiopians. Yet it was in Ethiopia that Nelson Mandela made that historic and moving speech that stirred a wave of support to South Africa, thus leading to training camps for the Umkhonto we Sizwe.

Wherever Nelson Mandela is, his spirit must be unsettled knowing that the 27 years spent in prison and more than three quarters of his life spent fighting for freedom seem to have gone to waste. In his speech in 1993, he noted that, “Never, never and never again, in that rainbow nation, shall someone be discriminated based on the colour of his skin” or did he mean ‘by his nationality’?

It’s unfortunate that the ANC government is not doing enough to curb these horrific acts. It must come out and condemn the xenophobic attacks in the strongest terms possible! Otherwise, I see Africa not hesitating to boycott South African products in the same spirit.

Phil K

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