Thursday, 22 May 2008

Xenophobic attacks

This violence is spiralling out of control. South Africa - poster child for African economic success and home to the rainbow nation - is losing it. How can our people, in the land where apartheid supposedly gave way to democracy, acceptance and diversity, be treating foreigners so terribly?

My boss has just told me how her dinner arrangement last night was abruptly cancelled because her guests needed to go and rescue their domestic worker, who is nine months pregnant and due at any moment, after her home had been set alight. A pregnant woman is one of the most vulnerable creatures in the world. To harm her is to commit a heinous crime, and to me, this incident illustrates the inhumane nature of this entire situation.

I understand that soaring food prices and the fuel situation, coupled with South Africa's power crisis, are crushing the nation's poor, and that foreigners, who are prepared to work for a lower income, are often chosen over locals for jobs. But I can't understand how people can be capable of wrapping their neighbours in their own blankets and setting them alight to watch them die.

How is it possible that one human being can do this to another? What has happened to us? Yes, there is rage and hatred in the world, but when it is unleashed en masse like this, it really makes one wonder about the state of mankind.

And yet, I've never been starving, or in a place where I'm not sure if I'll be able to feed my family, so how can I hope to understand?

I grew up with friends of all races and nationalities in a cushy environment where we always had enough to eat and where we were never without a roof over our heads. I don't remember apartheid because the new democratic government came into power when I was just a kid. So I can't really comment on the situation. All I know is that right now, I'm ashamed to be a South African. And I hope and pray that we will never have to seek refuge in a neighbouring country and be treated the way our neighbours are being treated by us.


AlasMyDear said...

That is completely horrible!

I know that food and commodity prices are soaring, and that the economy is way down, and with unemployment and all. But still, the solution to poverty isn't mindless crime! It wasn't even looting (not that it's a 'better' crime, but at least it provides the criminal with food, which i can try to understand).

this is just wrong. though with my middle-class upbringing, like you i can't even begin to understand what it's like to be poor and desperate. would i be driven to 'anger' crimes in that state, i wonder?

elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
elizabeth said...

This just made me so sad! Humanity. What's in that word.

This woman - thank heaven - had help. What about the ones who do not?

Thank you for reminding us that we have a long way to go. By telling this story - maybe people will keep that in mind.

Ashley said...

Interesting, T.

I have a new colleague, Grace, who has just transferred to us from Kenya. Grace is on of the most beautiful, elegant, well-spoken women I have ever met.

However, she has complained to me in private that she is finding it very hard to get along with our other black colleagues. She has said there is a general unwillingness to get to know her or converse in any way. I have since been watching the various interactions Grace has and I have noticed, without a shadow of doubt, an undoubtable disdain and lack of respect.

Why? These are upper-middle class people, not fighting-for-survival township or rural dwellers. And these same people are sending around petitions to end the violence and speaking with horror about the current situation.

It's a most bizarre phenomenon that I cannot understand. So although there is a sentiment that foreigners have taken the jobs of locals, I honestly believe there is something, more deeply entrenched that lies at the base of this.

But, Like you Tamara, I don't think I will ever be able to understand from a cultural perspective.

Glugster said...

YOu know of course what the next logial step in this saga will be?

Retaliation. Revenge.

Soon, South Africans accross Africa will face the same kind of senseless persecution that foreigners in our country is facing.

Apartheid is truly back.

Of course the mobs that are being incited to violence by the nameless few, do not realise the effect this crap has on our country. Our image is taking a huge nosedive, the nett effect of that being that our economy will suffer. And who are they going to blame then if they don't have jobs? The foreigners? What foreigners? All of them have been chased away.

Anonymous said...

I'm really sad about this whole mess. I'm left speechless as I turn on the tv to the news.

I said to J - no man, woman, or child should have to go through that. Never! It doesn't matter what colour or nationality they are.

And apparently the Minister of Intellegence had gotten word about what's going to happen three months ago and he still didn't do anything.

sweets said...

your last line is so true...

angel said...

very sad and scary indeed.

Supanova said...

You know what journo, your post shows the world that not all South Africans have that dumb-a** mindset towards foreigners! Fanx for that!

Tamara said...

@ everyone: not sure how to respond to your comments, coz it's still so hectic to me. I can't say anything flippant about it. Seeing I'm usually flippant in my comments, I have nothing to say, except that Glug has a good point.