Culture

Hate on foreign ground?

Xenophobia in South Africa

Xenophobia is defined in the dictionary as a fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners.

Back in 2008 xenophobia was reported in South Africa with several lives lost. The increase in Africans from other nations on the continent had migrated to South Africa to seek refuge from economic hardship and stability. Majority of the immigrants were from neighboring countries like Zimbabwe and Mozambique.Many immigrants came alone or with families with the promise of a better life for themselves and their families. Majority of the immigrants found refuge in the informal settlements of the country. These informal settlements are considered townships were where a lot of the poor black citizens reside. Due to the lack of opportunities and rising unemployment rate many of the immigrants and citizens living in these townships are forced to take employment as domestic workers and other low income jobs. others opt into creating businesses in the informal sector.

Unfortunately, many of the poor South Africa citizens felt that due to the already high competition for jobs in a society where unemployment had reached more than 35%, having immigrants compete with them and take some of the jobs available to them was unfair. The unrest became physical as many of the South Africans living in the same area as the immigrants began injuring and even killing immigrants. News began to break as many immigrants spoke out against the violence.

Recently over the past year  xenophobic violence against foreigners has reoccurred in South Africa. Properties, businesses and shops that belong to African migrants who reside in South Africa have become a target and are attacked and damaged due to the fact that they are not South Africans. Locals who are behind these attacks, have stated the reason for their angst against other Africans is that foreign nationals are taking their jobs and opportunities. An ugly truth that has devastated much of the economy since apartheid. Colonialism and segregation has directly influenced the way South Africans view themselves and other other Africans.

Thousands of South Africans marched to protest against the xenophobic attacks against foreigners. Protesters have gathered in the main cities; Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg to march against these attacks. The South African President Jacob Zuma issued a statement that what is happening in the country is not acceptable. No solid action outside of police intervention has occurred. Many fear that the police do not have as much control over the vigilante violence.

There has been a social media outcry, and the #NoToXenophobia campaign was formed to bring light and education to the growing issue. The deeper issue on why the attacks are only towards the  Africans and not Europeans, Arabs and Chinese immigrants, has not been addressed.  Many of the immigrants outside of Africa do not contribute to the local economies but instead take away from it.

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