It is no longer strange. There appears to be a love lost between South Africans and foreign nationals who reside in the Country. Bloods have been shed, many have been maimed and in many cases, rumour had it that security personnel turned the other eyes to this injustice.
What started as a small rage in Johannesburg’s suburb later spread like harmattan fire to Durban and other major cities. The focus of the rage were targeted at foreigners who had become successful than the original sons and daughters of the soil. This fire was ignited by an assumed hate speech made by king Zwelithini, when he addressed a crowd and referred to foreigners as ‘ants and lice’ that must be chased away or annihilated. If the news going around is anything to beleive, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Nigeria among other prominent nationals had received the better part of the terror.
According to a report monitored, a senior south African government official was quoted as saying ‘foreigners need to show South Africans the secrets of their success if they must Co exist’. It appears to us, if that is to be believed, that there is now a conspiracy by foreigners to hide a certain secret that works from South Africans allow them to prosper.
It is obvious there is a loophole here. A tacit acknowledgement which presupposes some are blind to the opportunities the foreigners grab and maximally utilised. In every nation where foreigners thrive, it Is just sheer determination. Foreigner goes for anything that will help them go home with stories of success and achievements.
While South Africans overlook certain kinds of jobs, foreigners ‘have no shame’ of being seen working out the hard stuff. More importantly, South African environment is also considered a favourable avenue, though it is not a perfect one, at least when compare with where the foreigners are coming from. The economic situation in many of the foreign nationals are not favourable so they seek for greener pasture. Nation like Zimbabwe has advantage of closeness and nearness so given the harsh environment they seek better opportunities in South Africa. They rush to the country in hundreds daily.
Our focus here is not about the reason people migrate into South Africa but an examination of how South Africa has changed from the land of social philosophy of ‘ubuntu’ to what it has become. South Africa as a nation has benefitted immensely from other African nations during its struggle against white overlord. The joy and euphoria made the country opened its doors to several African countries when it gained its independence over twenty years ago. South Africa used to be visa free for many Africa Countries. Aside from showing gratitude, this approach was widely influenced by ‘ubuntu’ philosophy which research had shown has its root in South Africa even though countries like Zimbabwe and Malawi are associated with it use.
Ubuntu teaches humanness, human kindness among other great virtues. According to Wikipedia, it is used to show ‘humanity towards others’. As a philosophy it is the ‘belief in universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity’
According to Micheal Eze, ubuntu is seen as’ a person is a person through other people… It is a the recognition of an’other’ in his uniqueness and difference. The ideal suggested humanity is not solely embedded in my person as an individual but co-substantively upon the others bestow upon me.’
ArchiArchbishop Tutu did say ‘ a person with ubuntu is open, affirms others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self assurance from knowing he or she belongs to a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are totured or oporessed’.
The concept of ubuntu hold by South African shows human cannot exist in isolation. It speaks about interconnectedness and that human cannot be human by himself only. Ubuntu was further explained by Nelson Mandela when he was quoted as saying ‘a traveller through a country will stop at a village and did not need to ask for food and water. Once he stops, the people attend to him’.
Tim Jackson also helps us to get a good grasp of ubuntu when he states’ ubuntu is contrasted with vengeance, dictates high value is placed on the life of human being, places premium on dignity, compassion and respect for others, a shift from confrontation to mediation and reconciliation. It favours restorative rather than redistributive, promotes mutual understanding rather than punishment.
Because of the value inherent in ubuntu, people now talk of ubuntu diplomacy withing international diplomatic community. This has inspired advanced nations to be involved in unjust punishment meted to smaller nations by bigger nations around them. Advanced nations get involved to right the wrong otherwise the world will become dog eat dog environment.
With ubuntu concept, South Africans have lived peacefully with foreign nationals among them for years. It is true we may not rule out occassional friction, which is common among human being. But what has changed? Some have argued terrorism is springing up in every nation. Africa nations like Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya and Sudan etc have their own share of terrorism and violence in Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and other factors for internal disunity.
While we may see this argument as valid, our major focus which makes the above argument weak is traceable to leadership. Many African leaders understand and know how to work the system to their own advantage. Some use religion, ethnic bias as a divisive factor. They understand as long as the governed understand their rights, live in peace and work in unity, the stronghold they hold on them will become minimal so they must keep up with the strategy of creating disunity among the led.
Most Africans leaders want to retain power by all means instead of doing the right thing. In South Africa, King Zwelithini excesses are constantly being overlooked by President Jacob Zuma because he depends on his support to cling on to power. This is not common to South Africa alone, we have examples across Africa where religion, ethnic rivalry is used to create disunity, discord among the governed so the leaders can continue their looting spree. Hate speeches are becoming a common practice especially from high profile traditional rulers. Unfortunately, people are fallen for it. Instead of the populace to fight such leaders, such incidence creates acrimony among the led. Old wounds are constantly refreshed and in the case of South Africa’ s King Zwelithini, its result escalated to killing, gruesome murder, day light robbery among other bad vices.
To get our mojo back, Africans need to understand most of their leaders, Politicians are not working for the common good but for their own advantage. The earlier we see through this dark curtain the better for the entire citizenry. We must enforce the ubuntu principles back in shape. We must see one another as brothers. Success of one does not in anyway diminish the success of others. Affliction of one should be seen as the affliction of the community. Those who have must be willing to share.
According to Nelson Mandela ‘the concept of ubuntu does not discourage people from being rich legally, the question is will you use that to improve the community where you live’. How many of African Politicians can account for the success of their sudden riches? Unfortunately when they are broke, they must look for means of getting back their lifestyles. King Zwelithini, not quite long declared bankruptcy and asked for Millions of Rand which was quickly disbursed while the average South Africans still have issues with quality standard of living.
What we need to learn is that offspring of most African rulers are not in the crowd that unleash terror on the average citizen trying to make a living. While the so called leaders acquire more wives, cars, built mansions at the expense of the common good, they compell the common man to go and risk his own life while they remain in the comfort of air conditioned rooms.
Africans must come to term with ubuntu and jettison all for of oppressions which may lead to gruesome murder and all forms of xenophobic tendencies.
Photo credit: Dailypost