A Call for African Solidarity Against Xenophobic Violence

By Seth Naicker 5-19-2008

As a South African, it is a downright shame that brothers and sisters from other countries in Africa are being treated with such disregard. This injustice that has transpired is repulsive, shocking, and disgusting.

However, we must put pressure on the government to address this matter of xenophobia. President Mbeki needs to speak out against it, without delay of or need for investigation. The news reports are definitive enough and cannot be denied, so our president must stand up and condemn these acts of violence.

The complexity of South Africans acting out in frustration of their own circumstances, as people who are agitated by the non-delivery of democratic promises, can and must be understood, but not to the extent that we take out our frustration on our fellow African brothers and sisters who are need of our support, understanding, and love.

It is my hope that businesses, nonprofits, churches, mosques, temples, and any form of organized religion in the townships, suburbs, and all over South Africa make a stand for justice and play a major role in bringing these acts of violence to an end. It is my hope that government will quicken its steps and intervene. It is not enough to say this xenophobia must stop; we must see action by way of a national state of emergency to stop this nonsense immediately!

Let us do whatever it is we can to stop these human rights abuses in South Africa, where our own history does not allow us to forget the days when our comrades were being housed in exile by countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Kenya. The collective memory of our people must be reminded of those days within apartheid and that this violence must stop!

We need not grow weary in this time. Neither must we grow less Afrocentric or become pessimistic about our continent, our people, our motherland, our beloved South Africa. Instead we should call for peace, and stand for justice. The "I am African-ness" of our people, our continent, and our South African nation must be called upon to remember that we are African.

I am disturbed but I am African.
I am discouraged but I am African.
I am perplexed but I am African.

Our collective memory as an African people must rise again with a consciousness that reminds us of our centeredness in "I am because we are."

Seth Naicker is an activist for justice and reconciliation from South Africa. He is currently studying and working at Bethel University, in St. Paul, Minnesota, as the program and projects director for the Office of Reconciliation Studies. He can be reached at: seth-naicker@bethel.edu or smnaick@hotmail.com

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