Why African Governments should Strongly Condemn the Xenophobic attacks against Africans in China

The last couple of days have brought depressing headlines that show Africans living in China being persecuted, in some instances at the hands of the police, as a new wave of the Coronavirus pandemic hits parts of the country.

This is unfortunate news because China seems to have been trying to build economic partnerships with several African countries based on mutual respect and a win-win cooperation.

There’s also an irony here because not too long ago, Chinese nationals and other Asians were complaining of suffering physical attacks and hate speech amid xenophobic calls by some political pundits in several countries for Asian migrants to be denied access to medical services.

Indeed the hashtag #IAmNotAVirus trended on twitter a few weeks ago.

Thus, at a time when there has been calls against calling the Coronavirus the ‘Wuhan Virus’, or the ‘Chinese virus’ as some have been doing, with people across the world standing in solidarity with Asians who were experiencing this hate speech, it’s disheartening to see Chinese people attacking Africans in this demeaning and insensitive manner:

In the weeks since COVID-19 has been circulating, Asian-Americans and Asians around the world have noted a spike in discrimination and xenophobic attacks. Public transit riders have encountered hostile interactions and people simply walking down the street have experienced microaggressions — which I prefer to call veiled aggressions, because there is nothing “micro” about them for the person on the receiving end.

Dr. Marietta Vazquez, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases & General Pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine; Vice Chair of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Over the last few decades China has worked hard to court African countries by presenting itself as their alternative economic partner in a global competition against western countries. Using loans and infrastructural development assistance promises among other measures, bilateral agreements have been signed and investment into various sectors across African countries has followed.

China even hosts a summit for Africa (called Forum on China–Africa Cooperation) every three years.

Indeed such has been the level of Chinese incursion into Africa that in some places even obscure villages have Chinese communities numbering several hundred people.

Generally, Chinese investment into Africa works as follows: China gives African countries cheap loans (and or buyer’s credit), access to relatively cheap equipment and technology, help in infrastructure development such as building roads, railways, factories, hospitals and stadia, but without the IMF-type conditionalities, and without any paternalistic intervention in the recipient country’s domestic politics. In return African countries give China raw materials (of which minerals remain a significant part) and a growing market where Chinese companies can flog their wares, or offer their services. What is often left unsaid (but is perfectly understood) in these transactions is that African leaders should not criticise China in public.

Thus, with such strategic investment and presence on the African continent, a presence which China is keen to emphasize as not interfering in the internal state affairs of African countries, and which is not colonialist, you’d think the Chinese government would be at least careful about how it handles matters regarding African people.

However, looking at some of the videos coming out of China in recent days, it’s disappointing that the authorities, including the Chinese police seem to be partaking in the actual harassment of citizens of African countries.

And unfortunately, it’s not the first time that foreigners in China have been viewed as a threat to public safety. In 2016, local officials in Beijing ran an awareness campaign cautioning Chinese citizens against dating foreigners, who they said could be spies.

While the police in China may struggle to understand that human rights of all people must be protected, given the repressive nature of the Chinese State, and given China’s well-documented intolerance of freedom of speech, but surely they must know that repression of foreigners is out of bounds.

It’s one thing to be fast and loose with your own citizens, quite another to do it to someone else’s people.

This is why African countries must stand together in being firm against China to explain what exactly is going on. It’s not good enough to merely express “extreme concern”, when your country’s nationals are being attacked and harassed in this way. Not in a world where Africans the world over suffer demeaning insults and discrimination on a daily basis for all manner of things.

Thus, Foreign Offices across the African continent who have knowledge that their citizens have been affected should summon Chinese Ambassadors in their countries to explain what is going on, and why the police are not clamping down on the xenophobic attacks?!? They should also request an explanation of what will be done in terms of restitution to those who have been affected, and within what timeline. This should be handled as a matter of urgency.

Usually China is quick (some will say ‘harsh’) at dealing with civil disobedience and clamping down on unrest. Indeed there are many examples throughout China’s history one can pick from. So why are we not seeing Chinese police officers protecting Africans in the Chinese city of Guangzhou for example?

Further, over the last 40 or so years China has been accused of many things, mainly by politicians and companies in western countries. Among the accusations is the allegation that China is lax on infringement of intellectual property rights by its citizens. But in recent times, the country has been trying hard to clean up this reputation, however unfair the perceptions that remain may be. In particular, there have been promising strides against counterfeiting and strengthening of China’s intellectual property laws, with admirable progress worth shouting about.

But the current xenophobic attacks stand squarely to undermine any such glimmers of hope. China will struggle to win the world’s hearts and minds with such grim headlines. And the criticism is not western media bias as some Chinese officials have been keen to dismiss them as. The stories of residents being kicked out of their apartments are real, and there is video evidence available across social media to prove they occured. They smack of illegality and the trampling of civil liberties in the face of the authorities. Blanket denials will not help China’s cause.

Defeating the COVID-19 pandemic will require a global united front. It will need not only lockdowns, a range of personal hygiene measures, social distancing, respirators, masks, protective personal equipment and a vaccine, among other things. But it will also require firmly and truthfully stamping out the darker impulses of human behaviour when faced with calamity; it will mean clamping down on physical attacks and hate speech against minority communities. And since the overwhelming evidence of the origins of COVID-19 points to Wuhan in China, the Chinese government above everyone else ought to be at the frontline of the effort to protect minorities.

The Other: What people say about Migrants

P1060325Once every now and again something happens that prompts me to troll through the comments people leave in response to articles on news websites. This exercise is purely a curiosity driven exploration of the range of views out there. And except for the clearly idiotic  (which there are many), I think most comments reveal a lot about the people who write them.

So maybe comments could be a way of gauging what a part of the readership of a publications thinks about certain issues. Maybe it can be used to gauge popular sentiment, but I doubt it is necessarily representative of a population or locality in the way that a referendum does. It couldn’t possibly be, for many reason including because not all readers in a locality read the same publication (or even read a newspaper). And for those who read a particular publication, not all of them leave comments. Even those who leave comments do not always show their true colours.

Still, comments being opinions are subjective and often filled with emotion even though as subjectivity goes some opinions are rather scary.

Also it’s interesting to see that the notion of freedom of expression in some countries is quite difficult to pinpoint, if not altogether warped, while in other countries, it’s the quickest ticket to persecution, jail or worse. To some people, expressing hate and what could come across as vile, equates to freedom of expression. To others its heresy. No surprises then that in this nirvana of duplicitous opinions found on newswebsites, certain subjects (in particular those praising certain dictators) are out-of-bounds and you can very quickly get in trouble, whereas praising other dictators (for example Stalin for some bizarre reason) is unlikely to get you in any trouble, leaving one wondering whether the measure used in deciding what is acceptable isn’t questionable in itself.

Criticising certain religious figures is likely to go unchallenged, while criticising others could elicit violence. Which is why lots of people leave comments from behind an alias unconnected with their physical person.

It appears that the criteria for determining what is acceptable freedom of speech and what isn’t, isn’t straightforward. Especially if you consider that in some countries what passes as freedom of speech would be deemed to be unlawful, slanderous, even criminal elsewhere.

So in the end, what you are not allowed to say in public is not uniform universally (and indeed cannot be).  It’s down to issues like where you live, the civil liberties you are afforded, the cultural bias of your community, what the dominant religion is, the threshold of what the presiding authorities deems to be acceptable, how well resourced the authorities are, how stringently the law is enforced, how brave / foolish you are, and so on.

Political correctness has a nationality, and a religion.

Anyhow, in this realm, it’s not uncommon to find the bizarre, hilarious, fascinating, truthful, misleading, ignorant, mockery, satirical and the poetic lying cosily next to each other.

Since 50 million people worldwide currently are refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced within their own countries, then in light of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, and frequent drownings of migrants in the mediterranean sea, I thought it appropriate to list some randomly picked comments that were written in response to articles that had something to do with migrants / refugees, from across the world.

Enjoy 🙂

From Swinging guns and fleeing foreigners: What is the state doing?  (Mail & Guardian)

Zuma giggles while SA burns. If you have no house , no job, no money, no propects of getting a job you may as well join a movement – any one will do. Unemployment is getting worse- a clothing factory in Durban has retrenched 300 workers and moved its operation to Swaziland -cost of labour is much cheaper and without all the unions red tape. Meanwhile our President is buying new jets to the value of 2 or 3 billion….hhe he hheee…..let them eat cake

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Stewart •   Is apartheid to blame for this? Egalitarians probably believe so, but the reasons behind all of this are too politically incorrect to air. This more or less standard operating procedure for countries nearing collapse and about to achieve failed state status. Its almost inevitable.

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uma’s announcement during SONA that no foreigners could own land in SA was met by probably the loudest applause of the night. It’s exactly that kind of anti-foreigner sentiment that gives some citizens confirmation that foreigners are the enemy that should be acted against.

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nocent black people? You mean those same people who moved from central west Africa and occupied Sub Saharan Africa? You mean those very same people who engaged in the Mfecane, cleansing the nearby peoples. Or perhaps the same people who displaced the Khoi whose paints are a start reminder in those isolated caves in the Drakensberg?

Stop telling lies about a history that only happened in the fertile tracts of your mind. Human history is a bloody one and there are no gentle peaceful tribes.

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While nothing good came of apartheid… The picture postcard of post-apartheid South African prosperity is nothing more than just a fairy tale.

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From  Incendiary SMS targets foreign nationals in Jo’burg  (Mail & Guardian)

Sibusiso •  The biggest walking fire is Zuma and his deafening silence….#ZUMAmustGO

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 Heraklit • South Africa open for business?
Gateway to Africa?
Looks more like Dante’s first stop over on his way into purgatory right now…

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Lets build my statues of Jan van Riebeeck, Rhodes, Ghandi etc….. -that should divert their attention for a while!

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From Rights violation charge laid against Zulu king  (Mail & Guardian)

BritinSA •  “The King is not to blame”. “The Kings words have been lost in translation”.

If you threw a match onto flammable material, then you DID start the fire.

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Brian • It is about time our governnment realize the cost of corruption they have created. Most foreign people in this country are not documented correctly if not at all. It is easy for them to do as they please. Some of the areas like Hilbrow and Kempton Park have been turned into little Lagos and drugs dealings is 2nd nature to them. Police are doing nothing about it. It is wrong for South Africans to take out their frustrations to our foreign brothers and sisters that are in the country legally and are contributing positively to the growth of this country. Not all foreigners in this country are criminals and sell drugs. Let those who are not documented correctly and committing all sorts of crime be broad to book and if possible deported back to their countries and that should be done within the law. As for the king and his utterances, it was wrong of him as a leader to say what he said.

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King Butter •  The Zulu’s should unite and fight this Monarchical Insubordination. Our damn King, in Our damn Province speaking to HIS people; and he gets insulted (BY FOREIGNERS??) for speaking the obvious truth, that ILLEGAL migrants should be repatriated.

Rod Baker to King Butter •  Exactly.He is YOUR king, the Zulus king, He is not my king, not the Xhosas’ king, not the Vendas’ king, Sesothos’ king etc. He is king of no one else but the Zulus.

So you go ahead and defend him – and while you are about it, also pay in full for his upkeep and leave us out of it. Our taxes should go to other things.

As for what he said, people in his position have to be extremely circumspect in what they say – and should know better than to say foreigners need to pack their bags and go. There are too many people out there who are willing to help the foreigners on their way, and help themselves to the latter’s good while they are about it.
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e should also be investigated by the nature conservation people for wearing furs and feathers of possible endangered fauna.

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From Katie Hopkins calling migrants vermin recalls the darkest events of history (Guardian)

SamStoneI was just about to write “the thing about Katie Hopkins is, absolutely no one likes her, so whatever she says, everyone automatically disagrees with her because she’s so ludicrous”

BUT….Then I just read the most up-voted comments about the same migrants article on the Daily Mail website, which said, starting with the most liked…

“She’s absolutely right!”

“Kate gets it right again.”

“I agree with her. She speaks a lot of sense and has the guts to say what others are thinking.”

And now I despair for humanity.

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Coolhandluke77 :    It is not unheard of for radical environmentalists to compare the whole of teaming humanity to locusts, cockroaches or other vermin. And many have less than progressive views on immigration.

Where is the outrage..? Where are the petitions..?

And speaking of hypocrisy, these immigrants are dying trying to get into Fortress Europe. That is the EU. But all the posturing by pro EU politicians has been against Farage, who is not even in power.

So apart from the fact that some should be choking on their own hypocrisy, I do agree with the article.

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 After we in the west have created the conditions under which tens of thousands of people feel so desperate that they will risk their lives to escape, we then turn round and say we can´t help them because we don´t have the capacity? We had the capacity to bomb their countries for weeks on end and create havoc where there had been stability. We really are a disgusting lot, dragged along on the coat tails of the Yanks year after year, doing the dirty work of international corporations that exist because they thrive on war and disorder. Speak for the ordinary people like yourselves, because that´s what these people are, just ordinary men, women and children taking the flak for the greed of the few.

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mizdarlin :  This is hate speech pure and simple..and should be dealt with as such..if she is as insane as she sounds, and having her taken away for psychological analysis for a few months might be the only way to find out-then do so at once and make her spew disappear…

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From Europe Considers Response as Hundreds of Migrants Die in Mediterranean Sinkings (New York Times)

Nancy , Great Neck:  That the countries of Europe are not monitoring the Mediterranean for attempted passages and such terrifying tragedies is beyond shameful. There is evidently a sense that monitoring passage attempts encourages them, but taking this as a justification for neglect of a humanitarian obligation is profoundly immoral.

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Rita,  California: Of course European countries need to work towards a common resolution of the refugee crisis. Borders are porous and the initial influx into one country will eventually disperse into others. The ultimate resolution requires stabilizing the region so that refugees can return home.

Massacre is the right word to describe the actions of those who take refugees’ money and then load the boats past capacity limits.

PS Erecting a wall or starting a naval blockade are not feasible solutions.

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John, Los Angeles:  A tragedy. But not Europe’s fault. At some point, political boundaries have to have meaning. If people want to risk their lives to illegally enter a country they are ultimately responsible for their own fate. Perhaps European countries should simply blockade north Africa and turn back all ships.

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Underclaw, The Floridas: Remember when President Obama launched an air attack in Libya that led to “regime change” in Tripoli (and the public execution of Qadaffy)? And remember how the United States then up and left Libya in chaos and anarchy? And remember how we were lectured about how Obama’s policy of “leading from behind” in places Libya was a “brilliant” foreign policy doctrine? Well, now look.

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From German Asylum: Attacks on Refugee Hostels a Growing Problem (Spiegel Online)

antfreire 04/11/2015  Since when is legal, or ethic that people that don’t have a satisfactory way of live where they live have to be accepted in countries where they decide to move? Does Germany have any commitment or moral duty to accept people from Sudan, or Siria, or Irak, etc. just because they are not doing well there? Will the people that promote this type of “serve yourself” inmigration bring a couple of this inmigrans to their house to live with them?

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Inglenda2 04/11/2015 When governments choose to ignore the wishes of their own people, it is almost impossible, for normal citizens, to take action against those responsible. The result is, that there will always be parts of the population, who express their justified, but falsely directed, frustration by violence against the weakest of the weak. In this case it is the refugees who are made to suffer. In psychological circles, such conduct is known as projection and is more common, for example in mobbing, than most of the general public are aware of.

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ernestokunn 04/14/2015  As Slavoj Zizek states, TOLERANCE IS NOT ENOGH. There are limits, certainly. It becomes an explosive problem if two ethnic or religious groups live together in close vicinity who have irreconcilable ways of life and, as such, perceive criticism of their religion or way of life as being an attack on their very identity. We all should stop with hypocrisy. Mainly our politicians.

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alfuryu 04/12/2015 It saddens me that again the Spiegel again only scratches the surface of what those outside Germany understand. After the war you did not pursue those animals that perpetrated crimes in fact you harboured them and protected them you even have specific laws that still protect them and the officials that support and still carryout what those outside of German would call racism. Your public bodies do not have open complaint procedures when such crimes are committed so inside the population we see the hatred or is arrogance of the Germanic race to think they are better than all. Come on Germany the world gave you a chance supported you after the war turned a blind eye to you not paying up what you were due in the 1950s or pursuing the guilty only the auschlanders are handed over funny old thing. The reality is there is a still a group of nutcases within Germany that need to be purged and it needs to be a bigger crime to be racist than it is to accuse someone of having the behaviour of a NAZI i.e. a bully, thug, a person who considers all others unequal. I see it

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From  Xenophobic attacks: Nigeria counts losses   (Vanguard – Nigeria)

Oldbendel • 5 High profile international football games cannot change the mentality of these big heads South Africans,send them to school where they can be tought some lesson on issues relating to globalization,cultural diversity etc,or else they remain barbarians forever.

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Micho • Nigeria is the most accommodating country in Africa. I can say that we are America in Africa. Go to all these African country, blacks are seen and addressed as foreigners, I could remember when I was in Gambia, they used to Address Nigerians as fucking foreigners while white and people from Mauritania and worshiped like gods. Nigeria just need good leaders we shall be very great. The wrath of God is on any country that maltreat foreigners, that is one of those warnings that God gave the people of Israel when they left Egypt.South Africa will be punished for what they are doing, but I pray to God to forgive them because of the faithful ones among them.

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Okoko • When the igbos shops were looted in Nigeria due to envy by other tribes, no one shouted. When igbos were deported in their own country, it was normal for yorobber folks. Xenophobia is everywhere, even in Nigeria.

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Somalis, Sudanese and Ethiopians are some no-nonsense taking people, i wonder why they played calm thus far. Hopefully they won’t follow trend and start blowing up South African investments and killing South Africans in their country. The situation is getting really out of control.

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Emma Kuyty •  Absence of love,hatred,wickedness,jealousy etc are synonymous among African Negro and Negra,it is only almighty JAH JEHOVAH that will help Africans.

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Ekwe111 •  Mandatory S.O.S. deductions were levied on Nigeria Govt. employee salaries and elsewhere in the 80’s, principally for the liberation of SA and Zimbabwe; countries that bitterly resent and spite our citizens today.

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From Paytriotism – Becoming British is a Costly Business  ( Economist)

Cutters. Apr 20th, 12:18

Becoming a UK national and gaining access to all the rights and privileges that go with it are far to cheap.

It is bad enough that the dregs of the continent are able to arrive unrestricted, putting massive pressure on local services and adding insignificant amounts to GDP (0.04% per head reported), without British citizenship being cheaply sold.

The cost could rise by 5x as much and demand would scarcely falter.

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guest-olwnaon Apr 19th, 15:56

When our govt receives fees for whatver – residency, health, visa renewal, citizenship, tuition fees, all amounting to billions, it keeps its mouth shut and go to the media to stoke animosity and hate against immigrants. What happened to all the money collected from applicants at the visa processing centres? Yet border staff were made redundant! what happened to the billions that our universities receive from genuine students? if one non EU student pays al least 12,000 pounds as tuition fees per year for a 12 month course, if universities admit 1000 non -EU students that gives a total of 12,000,000 per university. But we know that only the 1999 universities (new breed universities) charge the least amount. Other red bricks, Russell, 1964 universities charge a lot higher ranging from 17-26k. Unfortunately, when immigration figures are collated, 92,000 non EU students are added. What arrant nonsense! I see why vice chancellors and Principal live larger-than-life lives while PhD holds struggle to get regular teaching hours. Yet we are asked to blame immigrants. NO!

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 CA-Oxonian, Apr 16th, 18:39

The excessive fees imposed by the UK government throughout the residency and citizenship application process are just one more sad indication of how insular the UK really is. While the USA is stifling its tech industry with absurd visa restrictions the UK is stifling its entire economy. Apparently Little Britain is quite happy remaining a moribund, inward-looking, and rather stagnant sort of country. Too bad. Aside from the atrocious weather and inept approach to providing services, it’s not entirely a bad place to reside.

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From Rising tide of UK anti-immigrant sentiment (Al Jazeera)

Sayyed Musawi
one thinks that the arrogant Brits ought to remember they plundered the world for centuries stealing, including the Kohinoor diamond they stole from the Indians, the cheap labor they have benefitted from Immigrants, and the contributions made. Just imagine if all Immigrants were to leave britain today with their wealth and Britain were to be honest and give up the money they stole from Nations, the wealth stored up stolen, and the contributions made to it then I am sure britain will just be another empty, depressing European country.
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Arthur Coxon  TODAY THERE IS NO COHESION IN BRITISH SOCIETY WITH SO MANY DIFFERENT IMMIGRANTS, AND RELIGIONS IN THE COUNTRY. ONE FEELS AS IF YOU ARE LIVING IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY. IT’S A TOTAL NIGHTMARE !!!
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SeaNote  If immigrants don’t assimilate, get rid of them.
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Bohdan Chochoł
Oh yeah, the infamous ‘We’ (this & we that) approach to life. While there is a major generation gap now  between under and over 30-year-olds (the young being less prone to nationalist-ic ‘introversion’), the fact Poles became so numerous and at such break-neck speed cannot bode well for British civil society (for genuine civil society in Poland has yet to get into the air, even while the British institution is probably plummeting). The grounds for pessimism  are clearly enough expresed by the “editor-in-chief” (ah yes: hierarchy-mania) of “Our  Pages=Vantage Points=Side-s” (each meaning suggested by the /plural/ term “Strony”; cf.: [–link removed–]). Should it be for purely materialistic reasons that Poles have a right to live in Britain – en masse?
I abhore the so-called road the country went down from Thatcherism onwards; if it’s a road, it’s one that leads to living hell. I understand how difficult it is to get anywhere now in Poland if you’re young and without the kind of status symbols so conveniently listed by Pan Redaktor Naczelny Andrzejko. I equally appreciate how hundreds of thousands, if not millions Poles do not exactly live in Britain but exist as poorly-paid labourers, while others have truly found a place in the world where they wish to remain, because in Britain they’ve found something they could not find in a country like Poland. And yet, between those two more or less extremes is a lot of people who could almost certainly do more for their own country by living in it. Pressurizing the centralised bureaucratic autocracy there into responsible administration, for a start – rather than terrorising local surgeries for their -odding “prrreeskrrreeptsyon”, or ranting how well they know English at OAPs who can’t even begin to understand their Slavspeak, etc. And what about all those crumby shops on the High Street, money laundering or what?
No bad feelings intended, it’s just a subject that defies any softly-softly treatment .
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Mohammed Rahman Islam is a religion of peace.

I invite you and all the readers to study the life of prophet muhammad pbuh and decide on your own. 
He was totally against terrorism. The first three wars of badr , uhud , ahzab were defensive wars to protect the home city of medina. 
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Bader Rammal
No Muslim country invited you to invade and colonize their countries. You colonized….You pay the price….Don’t complain and whine about the results and outcome of your past reckless irresponsible behaviors.

From Britain’s criminally stupid attitudes to race and immigration are beyond parody – Frankie Boyle (Guardian)

GiulioSica  Brilliant writing and analysis, as ever. Thanks Frankie. It really is shameful the way the racists are unashamedly crawling out of the woodwork trying to rewrite history and ignore the present world problems.
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foralltime...”We have streets named after slave owners.”… Spot-on with that one, Frankie…

Penny Lane is a street famous worldwide thanks to The Beatles 1967 hit, but the Liverpool street owes its name to an outspoken Liverpool slave ship owner and staunch anti-abolitionist. James Penny was a Liverpool merchant who made his money from the transportation of slaves.

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atillazenun  Yet another article trying to guilt people and countries for their achievements. Where would the colonies be without the infrastructure that was created for them? Ever thought of that?
If you are so pro-immigration, please list your home address so that a family of four can be sent to live in your spare bedroom.
No?
But you are OK with tax payer money being used to support mass immigration “somewhere not too close to you?”. Get real.

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Fence2  Is the next generation responsible for past generations actions?
No, because if it were then there would be guilty atoms and molecules out there, which is ludicrous.

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moneymonkey  What a lazy article, roll out the tired old nonsense.

Everything we have, we stole from the immigrants in the first place…. UKIP are racist…

wacism, wacism, wacism….

etc etc.

orlandaowl responding to moneymonkey

…… monkey your effing self. Ironically, your beloved Fuhrer is married to a German!

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herbmonkey  Absolute rubbish. Why am I made to feel bad about events that ocurred before I was born. £11.4bn in foreign aid last year came from all our pockets. Yes we had our colonial past and faults but can we be really be held responsible for local corruption where african govenments drive around in Mercedes while their people starve. This piece once again paints the entire nation with a shitty sheen that is only representative of what pisses off the writer. I and my friends speak different languages, do show remorse for the terrible past crimes of our nation and do not display this “casual racism” that apparently the entire natioon should hang our heads in shame about.

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SimonBol Frankie: this is great stuff. You are saying in this single piece what sociologists and historians cannot say in a whole book.

Zwelithini: A cumbersome expense to modern South Africa – Opinion

It is understandable for the citizens of South Africa to complain about the influx of foreigners in their country. In Europe a similar phenomenon is unfolding with immigration being the most discussed topic in the news as hundreds of migrants drown in the Mediterranean Sea virtually every month. Looking at the numbers arriving, one must feel sympathy with those legitimate concerns, not least that such uncontrolled influx is unsustainable in the long run. However, even without having to be selective with history, what is disconcerting is the route some South Africans have chosen to take, to address the problems they associate with immigration.

Goodwill Zwelithini. There have been wide debates that the xenophobic attacks were inflamed by the Zulu King’s speech. Here is part of the now infamous speech,

We talk of people [South Africans] who do not want to listen, who do not want to work, who are thieves, child rapists and house breakers…. When foreigners look at them, they will say let us exploit the nation of idiots. As I speak you find their unsightly goods hanging all over our shops, they dirty our streets. We cannot even recognise which shop is which, there are foreigners everywhere. I know it is hard for other politicians to challenge this because they are after their votes. Please forgive me but this is my responsibility, I must talk, I cannot wait for five years to say this. As King of the Zulu Nation… I will not keep quiet when our country is led by people who have no opinion. It is time to say something. I ask our government to help us to fix our own problems, help us find our own solutions. We ask foreign nationals to pack their belongings and go back to their countries (loud cheers).”

What Zwelithini either does not understand, or secretly understands and wanted to take advantage of, is that his words carry weight. Thus it was inevitable that his utterances would give people the courage to attack foreigners. These negative sentiments about foreigners in South Africa have been suppressed since the last xenophobic attacks in 2008, and it is now evident that some South Africans are convinced that foreigners have to go back to their countries. Zwelithini’s words of labelling ‘South Africans as a nation of idiots’ must have struck chord with the disgruntled poor citizen who has seen countless numbers of foreigners making a living in South Africa. And when  Zwelithini stated  that foreign nationals need to pack their belongings and go back to their countries, it must have added some credence to the immigration debate that has been a problem in South Africa. He also alluded to the fact that their politicians who are lax are incapable of solving  the immigration debacle in South Africa, hence the people took it upon themselves to deal with immigrants.

Besides the callous and inexcusable violence his words have clearly spurred, the brazen thuggery of some of the King’s supporters was perfectly observed yesterday at a stadium in Durban, where Zwelithini had been scheduled to speak to his people, to condemn the attacks and urge peace. A few pictures and tweets tell a story in which the irony certainly wasn’t lost:-

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Nontobeko Sibisi @Nontobek0Sibisi ·
People have started arriving ‪#‎Imbizo here they singing “abahambe abahambayo siyosala siyincenga”

eNCA eNCAnews
RT @Nontobek0Sibisi: #Imbizo – Shouting “abahambe, badayisa ama’drugs,” translated they must go, they sell drugs

Khatija Nxedlana @its_KhaTija
‪#‎Imbizo Crowds are singing “Abahambe abahambayo, sosala sisebenza” basically meaning those who want to go must go

#Imbizo Izinduna & Amabutho are walking around the stadium chanting & dancing

Jeff Wicks @wicks_jeff
Small sections of the crowd erupt in song with traditional weapons held aloft #Imbizo ‪#‎isilo @News24

Sebenzile Nkambule @SebeNkambule
People at the Imbizo in KZN are singing ‘let them go, we will work’. Wonder what the King will say to make it better… ‪#‎XenophobiaMustFall

Words are indeed a powerful tool which politicians use to garner support from the electorate. It only takes a charismatic orator to sway the opinions of many as we have seen too many times throughout history. Didn’t some psycho named Adolf manage to instill the fear of Jewish people in tens of millions of Germans in the 1930’s and 40’s? And in less than 5 years, the brown shirts were on the streets of Germany harassing the Jews for being ‘leeches’; blaming every problem Germany faced as a consequence of the Great Depression of 1929. By 1943, Germany was systematically murdering Jews in their tens of thousands in concentration camps and gas chambers in all the conquered lands of Eastern Europe. Yet all this madness only began with the words and sick philosophy of a failed painter in the beer halls of Munich.

If a failed painter in Germany managed to shift opinions of millions of people regarding the Jews at a time when we didn’t have many of the communication conveniences we now have, then how easy would it be for a King in South Africa to sway people’s perceptions of foreigners? In the age of the internet…? And considering the gross inequality in South African society?

In the world of twitter and Facebook,  the dissemination of information is instant and it has become relatively an easy task to mobilise groups of people for a cause. Riots can be started from a computer keyboard at the press of a few buttons. It is therefore very dangerous and irresponsible for Zwelithini as a king of the Zulu’s to speak in a manner that is likely to inflame emotions. In an already extremely volatile situation, loosely held together by faint and quickly fading memories of disapproval of the 2008 violence, it was only going to take a few words from a madman with a hint of authority, anyone with a hint of authority!! to yet again incite violence against immigrants, and for the pangas to come out.

For the King to blame South Africa’s problems on foreigners, most of whom work in the informal sectors of the economy is not only shallow but despicable on all levels. As Julius Malema correctly pointed out yesterday, there are no jobs to steal. Most of the migrants working in South Africa create work for themselves. Instead of stigmatizing them, shouldn’t South Africa celebrate their contribution, and figure out a way of bringing them into the formal sector? Further, South Africans forget too quickly. Barely 20 years ago, African governments across the continent were still doing everything in their powers to fight Apartheid in South Africa and ensure Nelson Mandela was freed. They supported anti-apartheid militant guerilla factions, organised funding for the ANC (with some cutting their own budgets to meet their obligations), and put pressure on the international community to isolate the Verwoerd Institution. Zwelithini wouldn’t be able to enjoy the lush lifestyle he is known to enjoy today, complete with mansions, 6 wives and 28 children, if it wasn’t for the sacrifices paid by hundreds of thousands across Africa.

Here is a king who gets paid nearly R148000 a day, and yet he is still asking for more money from the government to fund his lavish lifestyle. According to documents seen by the Sunday Times , a breakdown of the King’s expenditure last year looked like this:-

— R10.3-million allocated for the King’s palaces;

— R2.2-million in stipends for his six wives. Each wife receives a tax- free R31000 stipend each month, R6500 for groceries, a R4550 medical aid allowance and a R2400 cellphone allowance;

— R2.5-million for travelling expenses, which translates to each wife receiving about R36000 a month; and
R915248 for education. The amount is for the tuition and boarding for five of the king’s children, who attend top private schools, and a grandson at Kearsney College in Botha’s Hill, KwaZulu-Natal. Zwelithini has 27 children.

— For the king’s wedding to Mafu, the trust stumped up R950000 for catering, R20000 for several rooms at the Ulundi Holiday Inn, R200000 for a 5000-seat marquee, R160000 for a sound system and R250000 for decor and flowers.”

Bloody hell…what are his priorities? If this guy had genuine love for his predominantly poor followers, would it not be wise of him to cut his expenses so that the government of South Africa is able to save money? From his statements, I doubt Zwelithini would want that and so it seems a cheaper (and lazy) alternative is to scapegoat the foreign house worker who receives meagre wages.

SouthAfricansIt’s Zwelithini’s disregard for the ordinary South Africans that is costing the taxpayers a fortune, and not Zimbabwean, Malawians or Nigerian migrants.

Zwelithini is part of the problems that South Africa has and it serves him better to denigrate foreigners, so that poor South Africans are deflected from the real issues (corruption, inequality, mismanagement) that are facing the country. If the president of South Africa can use 246 million South African Rands of taxpayers funds to refurbish his private home, what about his fellow cronies who are in government? These are the real culprits South Africa should be dealing with right now, and not the immigrants who earn too little to be of much significance to the broader sense of the South African economy.

South Africans must realise that the country would not be where it is without foreigners. The antics of Zwelithini, which are befitting more of a rambunctious and drunken anarchist – than a King, will not accrue South Africa or indeed the Zulus much goodwill in the short or long-term. In any case, we are now living in a globalised world where national economies co-exist and depend on each other to grow. South Africa is a member of SADC which has legally binding protocols that include the free movement of people. Without this openness, in the face of all the trade discrimination African countries already face, even the biggest of our economies in Africa wouldn’t survive, let alone be where it is today. Even though South Africa is the second largest economy in Africa, it is a recipe for disaster if it’s leaders alienate it in a continent of 54 countries.

It’s completely unacceptable that in the 21st century a supposed king of the Zulus can stoop this low and it will take a while for other Africans to look upon South Africans favourably, because this latest round of violent xenophobia will leave a stubborn stain on the rainbow nation. It only took a few days of violence, and the reputation of South Africa has been ruined; all because of the short-sighted runaway tongue of a Zulu King, and the silence of his Zulu President. Zwelithini, in the 21st century it’s a criminal act to incite violence!

Stop #Xenophobia WE ARE #AFRICA

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Found this image by someone known as olubanker911 on instagram

Update from a friend via WhatsApp (I’ve not verified them yet) :

🇿🇦SOUTH AFRICA IS ISOLATED 🇿🇦

In Mozambique, all trucks and cars with South African registration are being stoned. Four Sasol South African tracks have been set on fire.

In Zimbabwe , there is more than 5000 people marching at the South African Embassy in both Harare and Bulawayo.
In Malawi all South African shops and South African Embassy were forced to closed my marchers.

In China , the government has given South African President one week to reply before it calls all Chinese companies come stop operations.

In USA , they have promised strong sanctions against South Africa if they dont stop xenophobia.

Boko Haram has given five days to SA before it bombs SA Embassy in Nigeria.

In Namibia they have writing a human rights violations to World Human Rights Commission to stop SA flights worldwide.
In DRC four SA companies mining in that country have been requested to stop operations until xenophobia is stopped.

SA economy is now at risk. Pls send to all your contacts to stop XENOPHOBIA ATTACKS.
Mandela once said ” it is in your hands”