Reports reaching the world from South Africa have it that the country has been reduced to a scene of carnage by anti-immigrant attacks. This time the swing of the pendulum has changed, the tune of the music has changed, the masquerades are dancing naked with their faces unveiled in the former racist enclave. It is no more the white minority rulers/settlers against the blacks, but black South Africans against their fellow blacks from other Africans countries.
This is ear biting! I am surprised how short their memory could be to clean forget the role played to liberate them during white minority rule in South Africa. What is being widely reported by the world press is photographs showing the horror of brutal attacks unleashed on humans by irate black South Africans. It is all like a scene of carnage; dead bodies, charred remains of shops owned by some foreign nationals particularly blacks from other African countries. Further clashes between police and street gangs are seen everywhere in the streets of the coastal city of Durban and downtown Johannesburg. Their ”crime” is that they migrated to the former racist enclave for the proverbial greener pasture. Little did their victims know that their desire to travel to that part of the globe would be looked upon as a crime that carries a capital forfeit!
South Africa has a long history of violence. This is not the first time attacks on foreign nationals would be reported. Many of such cases abound in the past. Before the advent of black majority rule their white overlords had seen blacks that were opposed to them as vermin to be rid of and every method was employed in this regard. These were the days of apartheid – a policy or system of segregation on grounds of race but the struggle against this infamous policy attracted worldwide solidarity with black African countries playing prominent roles that gave birth to the first multi-racial elections which eventually paved the way for black majority rule.
The spate of deadly attacks on migrants in South Africa is not only alarming but deeply disturbing and one wonders the rationale behind it. Migration has been seen throughout history and ought not to be treated as a crime because during the dark days of apartheid South Africans fleeing from the repressive rule of the white minority government at the time were all welcome and accommodated in other African countries. I could recall from dim memory in my growing up days the hospitality, courtesy, helpfulness and friendliness shown to fleeing black South Africans from the repressive rule in their home country. It is a thousand pities today that they have chosen to tread this path by repaying everyone with ingratitude.
African migrants in South Africa have gory tales to tell and it always very pathetic. The clampdown together with inhuman treatment sometimes meted out to foreign nationals by South African authorities is another ball game altogether because in the not too distant past a Lagos-Johannesburg bound plane was returned to Nigeria without any cogent reason and this caused diplomatic row between the two countries. Abuja, we were told, gave Pretoria a raw deal by deporting their nationals visiting Nigeria. The former went down in knees begging Nigeria and promising that the highly irrational and despicable action would never repeat itself.
South Africa used to be a high-income and the largest economy on the continent until Nigeria displaced her sometimes last year. The purchasing power of the Rand, we reliably gathered, has been decreasing for quite some time now and this ought not to be blamed on poor migrants who have come to live and work in that country. The whites have again proven themselves to be better economic managers than the black man. The former is only bent on personal aggrandizement. Jacob Zuma the country’s President has shown himself incapable of tackling the country’s economic problems which now tell on the citizenry. The whites have bowed out of the stage and what we hear of the former Africa’s strongest and largest economy is a steady decline and more so a steady decrease in the purchasing power of their domestic currency.
The country leaders should halt this xenophobic attacks now by reading the Riot Act to the irate street gangs who attack innocent foreign nationals in the country before reprisal attacks commence in other countries on the continent. It is time the African Union summoned Pretoria to African diplomatic capital of Addis Ababa to tell African leaders what went wrong and she is doing to tame their charging bulls and stop the attacks on foreign nationals. The writer foresees a reprisal on the horizon and pigs might fly if this spate of attacks on innocent migrants continues.
Iyoha John Darlington, aka Lington Donovan, a social activist, political analyst and public commentator on national and global issues writes from Turin, Italy.
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