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South Africa should stop xenophobia

By The Standard | February 28th 2017
In this photo taken in 2015, immigrant men armed with machetes make their way onto a Durban, South Africa, street during clashes with police and in search of locals that attacked foreign shop owners in the city center. (AP Photo)

South Africa is in the throes of xenophobic attacks akin to those witnessed in 2008 and 2015. The 2008 clashes claimed at least 60 lives. Reports indicate police had a hard time last Friday controlling anti-immigrant protesters in the towns of Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Sadly, the immigrants, blamed for job losses by the locals, have not taken it sitting down. The violence that targets and destroys small businesses impacts the economy negatively and negates the concept of South Africa being a ‘rainbow’ nation as it is popularly known.

It further portrays South Africans as being ungrateful for the contribution other African nations made in its struggle against the oppressive apartheid regime. Countries around South Africa offered not just refuge to its freedom fighters, but financial and technical support.

At independence, professionals and workers from around Africa helped the new Nelson Mandela-led government find its footing. These good deeds should not be repaid with violence and xenophobia. The killings must therefore stop while the need to exist side-by-side is reinforced.

No nation, not even the great democracies of the West, have made it, as they say, on their own steam. Diversity of cultures is what makes Africa unique; we must tolerate each other.


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