President Ramaphosa spoke to the issue of the risk posed to SA by what he described as foreigners who live and work in the country and the people vented their anger in the manner they did.
It cannot be disputed that the issues of identity and related Identity Politics associated with it is deeper and complex.Although it is easy to claim that SA belongs to all who live in it, it cannot be said that there is a shared understanding whether the attitudes on the ground are in sync with this constitutional mandate.
There are many who hold a strong view that SA must belong only to those who hold papers issued by the government and as such, those human beings who find themselves without legitimate immigration papers ought to be flushed out.This position is also held by the Joburg Mayor, His Lordship Herman Mashaba, and he supports any measure that would reduce the number of illegal migrants as he genuinely believes that a causal link exists between criminality and immigration status.The promise and challenges of integrating foreign born persons in a forum percieved to be an address of prosperity are not unique to SA but are universal.
It is the case that countries that are welcoming of foreigners and celebrate diversity tend to offer the best platforms for human creativity and progress.SA finds itself in a real quagmire in that the attacks seem to be directed at black African migrants and less so on the white tribe that is relatively affluent as a class.The human spirit is always aspirational and will ignite people to journey towards spaces where a belief exists that prosperity is a real promise.”Can you imagine a person who walks all the way from a country like Somalia and does arrive in SA only to be told to go back where he or she came from?
It is also the same as imagining a person from Guatemala at the Mexican border with the USA being told to reverse gear and go back where he or she has traveled throughout Mexico to get away from.
It may sound like a cliche but the reality is that the problem of people migrating towards an oasis is age-old and its solution can be so elusive to allow alternative remedies like criminality to be preferred ones.
The real challenge is and will remain attitududinal as it is not easy to escape the prejudice that follows from identity and ownership illiteracy,” said Mr. Stanley Dube, the Station Manager of the www.the1873fm.com radio station based in Rivonia.
There are people who believe that birth and place where it occurs ought to confer a better claim on the gifts of nature endowed by the creator.Slogans like: “Our Land Our Jobs” when properly unpacked expose the underlying idea and ideal that land, a gift of nature, belongs to a certain class called US that then justifies the campaign that land must belong to some homogeneous group.
It follows from this characterization that anyone foreign is automatically excluded from having a relationship with jobs and land.
It would be self-evident that the people who claim some form of a superior relationship to land and jobs are fundamentally celebrating the ideal of a society divided on the basis of nationalism and the fear that often characterizes it.
Against the above backdrop, International Relations Minister, Hon. Lindiwe Sisulu, has called an urgent meeting of African Ambassadors to discuss the attacks on foreign nationals in the Sydenham and Overport areas of Durban.
It is significant that the Minister called on law-enforcement officers to deal with criminals and those damaging properties with the full might of the law yet the reality is that not all foreign born nationals are neither criminals nor undocumented.
Imagine a civilization that discriminates or targets human beings on the basis of immigration documents and other properties like language and race, how could such a policy be implemented without inconveniencing all and more especially those who belong to the class so targeted.It is not easy to imagine unwanted people out of existence for the people targeted are real and living.
The sooner it is accepted that even meat does not suffer the obligation to invite flies, the better.After 25 years of democracy and accepting that the need for social cohesion is compelling, it is the case that the failure to assimilate foreign born Africans in all the spheres of governance from the local, provincial and national spheres is a better testament to the systemic problem that countries like France have attempted to address from the national soccer team to the composition of the national government.
To imagine Johannesburg having a Nigetian born Mayor, for example, as is the case that London as a Mayor of Pakistan heritage would be an act that may ignite such outrage with untold mayhem on the ground.
The late Tuku wrote and sang: “Todii or What shall we do?Life ain’t easy for if it was, it would not be worth living.Building inclusive and diverse communities is never meant to be easy but the sooner thinkers can put their minds to this promise and challenge, the better for all.Indeed, talking to Ambassadors of African states may be a low hanging fruit but the reality exposed by this act is the failure to encourage community building at the coal face that should ignite structure and order in the migrant community.
Where are the missing voices of the migrant community that live and work in SA?The only power people who do not have power is the power to organize.
In the same vein, Indians, for example, would qualify to be foreigners yet the history of South Africa would not be complete without recognizing their role in shaping and defining the character and personality of this nation.
The reality is that unless those who are affected by xenophobic attacks choose to step up to the plate and play their part in building a nation that is blind to what divides but is alert to what unites, the problem of attacks driven by ignorance and fear will not end.