The mindless attacks
SIR: On May 10, 1994, the world, and indeed Africa, gathered to celebrate a country, which was independent, but had been in dire thirst for freedom.
That was the day South Africans witnessed the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as the first black South African president. That day signaled an end to apartheid, an end to a system that separated whites from blacks, the rich and powerful from the poor and defenceless.
It is over two decades now and the peace and progress South Africa has enjoyed seem to be shaken by the recent xenophobic attacks which have left more than eight foreigners dead and 1000 displaced.
The angst within the locals over the high unemployment rate in South Africa has been transferred unto the foreigners, mainly Somalis, Ethiopians, Nigerians, Kenyans as if there is any law restricting the indigenes from owning shops or seeking employment.
The President of Zimbabwe, who for the first time seems to be aligning with the thoughts of the West in condemning the attacks, said recently that a black South African may pull down a statue of a white South African, but will never attempt to raise his hand against him, but he can exercise his strength against a fellow black African.
Xenophobic attacks are not new in South Africa. In 2008, at least 60 people were reportedly killed in a related violence prompting some 6000 foreigners to flee. It continued in 2011 and also in January 2015 with about three people killed while dozens of shops were looted.
The difference between the attacks of 2008 and now is that this recent violence is said to have been triggered by comments from Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini who said that foreigners need to pack their bags and leave. No doubt, South Africa is such a place of opportunities, South Africans shouldn’t forget that a hand alone cannot make a clap.
Africa must learn to accommodate every black African working and living in a country outside theirs. South Africans must not forget or be ignorant of the past, unless they will be condemned to making the mistakes of the past. • Mbachu Camillus, Ota, Ogun State