April 23, 2015 By Alusine Sesay
For the past few days the international media has been dominated with news of black South Africans killing black Africans on the flimsy excuse that they are jobless as a result of the presence of African economic migrants. But the question that frequently comes to mind as I listen to news of black South Africans attacking and killing their fellow black Africans is, can a black man be a foreigner on African soil? Are South Africans jobless because of the presence of foreign black migrants? Do they have the requisite qualification that would make them employable even in the midst of strong competition in the job market?
In my opinion, there is a huge governance issue in South Africa where the government has failed to provide the enabling environment for South African youths to gain employment. Also, I am of the conviction that those South Africans that are involved in xenophobic attacks may not be unemployable. They may lack the basic skills which makes the possibility of them being gainfully employed improbable!
It is a truism that South Africa has a prevalence of youth unemployment; a common phenomenon in all African countries, yet that should not prompt anyone to kill another man.
CNN reported that unemployment in South Africa, according to government figures, is rated at 25% and citizens have accused African immigrants of taking their already scarce jobs, thus undermining businesses owned by locals and contributing to a high crime rate.
President Jacob Zuma, however, said his government was addressing thesocial and economic concerns, but noted that immigrants contribute to the nation’s economy and bring skills that are in demand, and should not be stereotyped as criminals. CNN further quoted him as saying that, “While some foreign nationals have been arrested for various crimes, it is misleading and wrong to label or regard all foreign nationals as being involved in crime in the country.”
From that backdrop, referring to a black African as a foreigner and subsequently attacking and killing him on an African soil is sickening and ridiculous. Africa is for Africans and no African should kill other Africans in the name of being unemployed. I believe we are all the same and only being divided by artificial boundaries created by colonialists.
Peter Tosh, in one of his famous revolutionary lyrics noted that, “Don’t mind the nationality…as long as you are a black man, you are an African’. And this holds true as one would immediately identify oneself as an African because of one’s colour – black. Thus, even blacks that were born and bred in the United States are being referred to as African-American because their forefathers were taken as slaves to work in white owned plantations. Most North Africans do not want to be referred to as Africans because they are white in complexion and they feel more comfortable aligning themselves with the Arab world that they share some commonalities, including colour, language, religion and culture.
During the scramble for and partition of Africa, colonialists created artificial boundaries, but the fact remains the things that hold us together as black Africans are far more than those that put us apart. So why do we attack and kill ourselves when we have so many things in common? Aside from the colour, all black African countries share similar cultures and heritages. We share similar feelings with one another because we are blacks and consciously know that we are Africans.
When a white police officer gunned down a black man in the United States, the entire black race was embittered and described such act as blatant racism. That was so because it was a white man that killed a black man, but the South African scenario is a bit crazy one and hard to understand. If such is happening on an African soil, should we blame the white police officer who gunned down a black man in the United States for doing what he did? Of course no because the United States is not within the bounds of Africa – the home of all black people, whether born and bred in Europe or the Americas, as Peter Tosh rightly said.
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, while commenting on the shame spectacle in South Africa, noted that a black South African would only have the guts to hit the statue of a white man but would not dare slap a white man that is alive. He went further to say that they would have the guts to attack and kill fellow blacks because they were not born and bred within the same boundary. This is true because there are foreign white people in South Africa that are enjoying lucrative employments but have never been attacked or killed by black South Africans.
Ironically, South Africans were treated with utter hospitality and humanity in all African countries during the Apartheid era. Sadly, they are today subjecting their fellow Africans to xenophobic attacks and gruesome killings. Yet during the Apartheid era, black South Africans were all over Africa and treated humanely. The entire continent shared their plight, with some – the frontline states of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique and Angola – literally suffering from bombings from the white supremacist regime for hosting the African National Congress. Many South African exiles only returned home after the country gained freedom in 1994, thanks to the inimitable zeal of Nelson Mandela, may his soul rest in perfect peace.
Human beings are easy to forget good things and focus on their immediate sufferings, but the current case borders on the extreme and is indefensible.
If xenophobic black South Africans were grateful, they would not be inflicting mayhem on black Africans who are in South Africa in search of greener pastures. As I write, black South Africans are in other countries in search of fortune. So, should their hosts attack and kill them because they were not born and bred in those countries?
South Africans should put their innate fears away and focus on the things that would make them competitive in the job market. It is absolutely wrong and ridiculous that they keep attacking other blacks who are not responsible for their current economic predicament.