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Xenophobic hypocrisy



There are ironies and contradictions when it comes to understanding the relationships between man and man, family and family, community and community and the bigger spheres of state and society. The understanding of the different entities that make up the phenomenon we call social living is what remains salient in maintaining the core essence of human behaviour: relationships.

Without the connectedness and the interconnectedness of the human being with other human beings all we would be as a species on earth would come to nought. In every essence, a human being’s existence on earth is governed and determined by the relationships the individual has with other human beings whether they be in the family, the community or in the larger entity we call society.

Societal or social living means that one has to embrace one’s relativity, that is, one has to understand the simple fact that the relationships one has with other members of their family, community and society depend on the manner of relating with them. If people relate on the basis of their familiarity or foreignness, then it means that the basis of their coexistence is based on a fickle entity. It is fickle because it means that the human element gets erased in the instance where other members of the community come from a different location that is foreign to the individual.

The right way to relate should be on a clear understanding that all of us are at the most basic and primal human and therefore worthy of the respect and integrity we give to those we know or are at least familiar with. The manner of relating should be cordial regardless our origin or location of such a place of origin.

One of the most notorious racists and supremacists, Adolf Hitler, was a mere struggling artist living in Germany. His family surname, Schicklegrubber, is unknown to many because many remember the latter surname by which he came to be known in the years of his Third Reich, Hitler. The simple artist from Austria in his bitterness begot the world the Second World War, because he could not relate with the people and held the warped reality that some of the people living in his adopted country were less human than he was. In brief, the poor artist who came in from the cold forgot that he was a mere human like all the other mere humans around him.

The likelihood is that some of the Jews he later came to gas and torture in his concentration camps at Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka, Sobibhor and other places took pity on him in his early years of poverty. It is not right therefore that he came to kill them en masse in the days of the Third Reich, but it could have been prevented had the boy from Austria been taught of the one fact – that they were human like he was. Had the council of fools that hung around him in the days of his rise to power not been racists, maybe Adolf could have ended up a Da Vinci or Michelangelo.

It is an only if situation, because what we got instead was a murdering megalomaniac that threw the world into the clutches of war because his racist tendencies were not put in check. We could have reaped a harvest of fruits and not thorns had Hitler been taught that he was just a mere human being like the rest of the people around him in the early days of his rise to power.

Insincerity by virtue of pretending to have qualities or beliefs that you do not really have is called hypocrisy and the unfounded attack on the countenance and integrity of a well-meaning waitress of Zimbabwean origin by a South African woman at a Wimpy food outlet raises questions with regard to the real intentions of given individuals when it comes to relating with other individuals from other parts of Africa. The abuser, or Shokwakhe, who joined Twitter in June this year, wrote: “Today I had breakfast at Wimpy Clearwater Mall a waiter by the name of Nomatter from Zimbabwe came to serve us at our table. I politely told her that I wanted to be served by a South African. Normalise refusing to be served by aliens #PutSouthAfricansFirst.”

There is clear misconception of what it means to be a member of any society on the side of the complainant, there is also the lack of understanding when it comes to the history of modern South Africa coupled with apparent lack in manners on the part of this lady who made the Tweet. One as a customer is supposedly right; but what of the rights of the worker? Regardless of place of origin every worker holds the basic right to humane treatment by patrons that come to the establishment. It is plain tribal abuse and racism to refuse to be served by ‘anyone’ on the basis of their being from a different geographical location or ethnic group. It is neo-apartheid in my personal opinion to continue the racial or ethnic abuse of fellow family members from other parts of the continent. Whoever does so is in plain terms mentally colonised.

We have broached the subject of xenophobia on several occasions without apparent success because tendencies that define xenophobia always find their way back into society. I often think xenophobia is a nice term; so nice that it hides the real and ugly face of the phenomenon. We are here in this world to help each other out and it means that it does not make any logical sense why we should begin to view each other on the basis of the colour of our skin or place of origin. Circumstances of our own creation and intention often land us in strange places and hardship forces us to work even in the caves of cannibals.

The young ‘woman’ from a privileged background should have understood ‘the other woman’s’ circumstances before taking the rash decision to be rude to a fellow African. South Africa in the first got its democratic independence on the basis of the united efforts of other Africans from other parts of the continent. It therefore sounds uncouth and conveniently amnesiac for South Africans to be allowed to carry on with their xenophobic tendencies. The South African government should by now have installed laws and enforcement policies to stem the tide of unfounded xenophobia amongst its ‘local’ population.

It sounds nonsensical for an individual to be raving and ranting about bullpoo attitudes on social media platforms and the government is silent about it. This passive attitude is what led to the proliferation of the xenophobic behaviours in some of the ignorant members of the South African society. These are the people that have conveniently forgotten that their struggle heroes found shelter in the homes of the very people they are now insulting when times were hard and the apartheid security police were hounding them.

It is a reality of history that cannot be ignored, and the current reality is that the current crop of citizens should understand that their freedom equals their indebtedness to the other parts of Africa. The truth of the matter is that favours should be returned, it is the law of Karma, it is the rule that spins the wheel of fortune: I help you today because nature dictates that you will return the favour tomorrow. In short, South Africans should understand that they owe the rest of the continent and the world their freedom, and however bitter the reality is to swallow, the fact remains – it is payback time and the citizens should begin to learn to be cordial when it comes to relating with their fellow human beings from other parts of the continent or the globe.

The reality and the fact of the matter is South Africa is not an island. It is economically, socially and politically fully integrated with the rest of the African continent and the global community. SA is the current chair of the AU, and currently holds a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. This means that South Africa is in a sense the guardian of the spirit of Pan-Africanism that says all should feel at home no matter their country of origin on the continent.

The sad truth is that however, since the 2008 killing of 62 fellow Africans across the townships of South Africa, the issue of xenophobia has not gone to rest; it has adopted a more subtle form that is however equally poisonous if the facts of the reality of the attitude of fearing or hating other individuals on the basis of their foreignness is to be tackled head on. A paper by Ude Tochwukwu South Africa Xenophobia Sentiment Analysis Project that examines the attitudes of the South African people on the spate at which foreign nationals (especially Black Africans) are being abused and killed as a result of Xenophobia by the host communities in South Africa states:

The nation has suffered apartheid for a long time and through the effort of other African nations, was liberated. In 2008, 62 people were killed in xenophobic violence across Johannesburg’s townships. South Africa as a nation is seen as a pride in the continent of Africa and stands for freedom for all irrespective of their nationality, ethnicity, language, tribe or culture. South Africans should understand that their country has essentially gotten to the point where it is on the sweat and toil and blood and tears of other Africans. The Johannesburg they now so revere began as a mining town in 1864, and it became the Mecca of the continent on the backs of labourers that came to work the mines from as far as Central Africa. This means that South Africa has never been for the ‘locals’’ from its inception; it has always been our land not matter whether anyone can argue to the contrary.

The current attitude goes against the grain with the reconciliation Mandela taught and is totally out of line with Steve Biko’s Black Consciousness philosophies. One cannot claim to love the fruit but hate the tree, one cannot be singing along to Todii, or Neria and still go on to hate the man, woman and child from Harare, Abuja, Lilongwe, Maputo or any other African city. The radicalism of some of the movements based on hate cannot liberate the continent in the true sense of the term. A Tweet by one South African of level minds states that:

“Movements like PutSouthAfricansFirst could trigger a mass wave of xenophobic violence and severely undermine SA’s race relations and international relations in Africa and beyond,” The question of who the rightful South African is should have been stopped the moment South Africa gained her independence in 1994. As much as they should be given first priority when it comes to being hired, there are also the issues of qualification, skill, experience, and affordability that are real to the employer that have to be considered. One cannot be hired only on the basis of their citizenship even if they lack the requisite skills or qualifications. It takes more than owning an identity document to meet the demands of the market. It takes a certain level of wisdom to wear the other individual’s shoes and to understand the circumstances that put them in the position they are in at any given point in time. Judging anyone on the basis of their localness or their foreignness should be done on a justifiable basis.

What was Shokwakhe doing arguing at a multinational franchise with a fellow African over fried eggs and bacon anyway? A Tweet by a Matigary asks rather bluntly: “An idiot goes to a foreign-owned restaurant chain to spend South African rands and complains about being served by a foreigner? Why didn’t you go to spend at a South African owned restaurant? Your brain is on the wrong side.”

Other Tweets by Grand Master @GrandmasterE2 responded @Shokwakhe16 arguing: “Patriotic should never mean Afrophobic. I bet you buy from Chinese, get served by Italians and Greeks and never refuse the service from those. You get your cellphone and computer repaired by Pakistani but never question them. But come a Zimbabwean then suddenly you are patriotic!” The questions posed reveal the hypocrisy of the rather obtuse madam of the unfounded brothel where Africans learn to hate other Africans on the basis of their foreignness. This is the colonial hypocrisy that has to be done away with if we have any dreams for this continent. Where certain skills and expertise lack, the wise move would be to consult with the other neighbouring African states instead of importing labour from other parts of the world at a higher cost than we would if we got it from nearby. As Southern Africa Consultant at the International Crisis Group, Piers Pigou @PiersPigou reacted to @Shokwakhe16:

“This kind of discriminatory thinking if replicated globally would simply feed ignorance and intolerance. Perhaps this xenophobic posturing is unintentional, but i wonder whether you would like fellow South Africans working in the UK for example to be treated this way.” There is just one piece of advice for those that are tempted to adopt this xenophobic and hypocritical attitude: do not throw stones if you live in a glass house. Learn to be tolerant of other individuals from lands you don’t know, in fact, learn to love them because they will at the end of the day save your sorry behind.


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