Xenophobia can be defined in many ways. For example, Oxford online dictionary describes it as “An intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries”. Based on Wikipedia website, xenophobia is the “unreasoned fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange.” This is a subject that one can argue has not spoken enough or been raised in irrelevant platforms. Unfortunately, almost every country in the world experienced xenophobia.
I have been reading Steve Biko’s “I Write What I like” and in it he opens up my eyes and names things I have been thinking about but have failed to give names to. Biko tackles lots of issues from colonialism to racism and imperialism. Biko confronts the issue of white guilt stemming from the past and how white South Africans, particularly, deal with this guilt. “Basically the South African white community are a homogeneous group of people. It is a community of people who sit to enjoy a privileged position they do not deserve, are aware of this, and therefore try to spend time trying to justify what they do and why they are doing so. Where differences in political opinion exist, they are in the process of trying to justify their position and usurpation of power” Steve Biko. Biko further suggests that white South Africans become liberal in hope to overcome their guilt, and not because they understand what black South Africans have been through, are going through and will continue to endure. Whilst Biko wrote the article during the epitome of Apartheid, his Black Consciousness (BC) ideals still prove to be necessary. It is however imperative that black people do not use BC ideals to perpetuate racism, for populist tactics that are likely to degenerate their countries into states of anarchy that undermine the democracies that were attained through blood, sweat and sacrifices.
South Africans commemorate the 16th of June to serve as a reminiscence of what transpired in Soweto (a township/suburb I have yet to visit) on the said day in 1976. It is the most significant and arguably the most famous youth demonstration in all of South African history. For those who aren’t really sure what happened, I will in summary, elaborate.
Back then black people (mostly of African descent) were confronted by political oppression, extreme social degradation and inhumane economic exploitation. You could argue that there still exists political oppression in the motherland today and you could use the recent public attacks on public protector Thuli Madonsela by leading politicians. You could go on and tell me about how top prosecutor, Glynnis Breteynbach was unfairly suspended after she big names in the political scenery tackled (or at least tried to do so). Secondly, you could argue that social degradation is prevalent today and its prevalence is actually depressing. You could use the racism that we black people have to endure in our country everyday. You could use the stories your parents and all those related to you share about corporate South Africa as one of many examples. You could use the recent forced evictions that took place in Lwandle as socially degrading. You wouldn’t need to go further and tell me about the “open” toilet that once called the shanty townships around Cape Town home or the “still fresh on our minds” Marikana massacre. On economic exploitation you could outline how domestic workers, miners, unskilled labourers and the like are overworked and under-paid. I would never dispute the mentioned points; I would however argue that be it as it may, it was way worse back then. Continue reading