I can still hear Julius Malema’s voice echoing loud as he reminded him that his time is up. “Fellow South Africans, we need each other, there is no country that can survive in isolation, we need each other south Africans, let us not kill fellow Africans, let us refuse the artificial borders imposed on us by colonisers that has led to the division of Africa, Africa we are one.” This was at the height of xenophobic attacks that was perpetrated by a bunch of degenerates who have no place in the 21st century. In those few minutes Malema managed to espouse the core values of an Africa any progressive youth wants. A borderless Africa, where we are united in our diversity!
Almost exactly the same time last year, hapless women, men and children were fleeing for their lives with a band of blood lust savages running behind them armed with all sorts of weapons, their crime, being citizens of another country. Now hold it right there. This is the 21st century and South Africa strikes me as a country with an efficient justice system. Are we saying that we have failed to resolve any grievances we have improper channels and we are going back to the mfecane era? Except maybe the khoi-san, who exactly has always been in the country they now reside? We have all migrated from different parts of the country and ended up where we are now for various reasons. I refuse to see the sense in murdering people from other countries on perceived grievances.
Till when as Africans shall we continue playing into the hands of naysayers by being the savages from the Dark Continent they say we are? African civilisation is older than Europe or America but surely our conduct particularly xenophobia puts such assertions to shame. Such bloodthirsty as displayed by our fellow brothers and sisters throws spanners in the wheels moving towards the Africa we want as young people. Perhaps before we speak about the Africa we want a very brief reminder of what happened prior to 1994. What stance was taken by African countries like Zimbabwe and Nigeria as far as apartheid going on in South Africa was concerned? They condemned it in the strongest terms and assisted fellow brothers and sisters to fight it! When the great Chris Hani was assassinated, wasn’t it Harare, Zimbabwe he had been offered refuge? Are we so gripped by amnesia that we forget what happened barely two decades ago?
And in all this chaos and pandemonium, burnings, stabbings, stoning where is the South African government? Of course it has its head firmly stuck in the sand. Its silence is so loud that it can be heard across the world. It’s as if the problem is nonexistent to them, which makes one wonder whether they too have the same amnesia as the actual murderers prowling the street. Isn’t it Bishop Tutu who said “if you are neutral in situations of injustice you are siding with the oppressor, if an elephant has its foot on the tail of a tortoise and you are silent, the mouse will not appreciate your silence.”? As far as the vision of the Africa we want as young people is concerned, they are doing nothing. So, what exactly are they busy doing that they cannot address the evil of xenophobia.
There is a Ghananian proverb which says, “The shea butter that laughs at the salt mound during a heavy downpour, should not forget that with morning will come the burning sun.” All the people of different nations in South Africa did not leave their homes out of choice, they fled from different situations, just as Chris Hani, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo did during the Apartheid era. The dismal failure by the South African government to reign in the people killing other Africans will go down in history as a colossal failure by a government, which no one really knows what it is doing apart from facilitating building of amphitheatres and fire emergency swimming pools. The Africa we want as young people has no room for violence of any kind, tribalism or any form of discrimination. Africa we are one, a single finger can be broken but a fist is invincible. Africans we need each other, and together the Africa we want is a reality!
By Linda Tsungirirai Masarira