To read Part 1 of this series, click here.
Eventually, while actual measures are currently being put in place to manage the situation, what remains to be answered is – why did it take so long for the government to strategically react and take actions?
Simply put therefore, there has been collective condemnation of xenophobic attacks by government leaders, institutions and organisations. Making progress, the government has among other processes, established a Ministerial task force to stabilize the situation; organised advisory gatherings with youth, women, sports, development and business organisations and representatives to deliberate South Africa’s migration policy, as well as dialogues to promote and encourage peaceful co-existence; and engaged mechanisms to prosecute the more than 300 arrested for acts of xenophobic violence, looting and destruction of property.
Some communities like Alaska in Pretoria have taken a stance to protect and defend the right of all those living in their community. More support and stances like these are needed and encouraged if curbing such violence is the ultimate goal. There is no doubt that the impact of this xenophobic outbreaks can have regional and global implications, especially as the air of fear already spread to some parts of the continent and demonstrations heightened at South African embassies and companies in places like Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria, and Mozambique for example.
As youth, we are important development partners, leaders, designers and architects of our political, economic and social growth and sustainability. With the stream of events in South Africa, it is time we invest more energy into our efforts, it is time we sit up straight and take notice of how seriously wrong the actions of our fellow youth against others and humanity is taking a massive hit on our present and future development objectives. The call is for us to keep mobilizing, lobbying and rallying support from all youth around the world to stand up and hold high the torch and flames of peace and not of violence. It is therefore our duty as youth to emancipate, to build capacity and empower each other and our communities and societies of the importance of human rights and living together as one in peace and harmony.
In loving memory of Luky Dube, we remind the world, especially now the South African youth, with lyrics from a popular song by the late pop star Michael Jackson — “We are the world…We are the children…We are the ones who make a brighter day…” Let us live up to these words by doing. Let us coordinate with our diverse global networks and spread the word of peace, organize programmes that promote reconciliation and proactive non-violent actions, organise peace talks, seminars and rallies to discuss the insecurities we are facing as a people, the roles youth are playing in it, and the roles youth can play and are playing as a united force and individually to build societies that will accommodate all.
Speaking of a united force, the African Youth Movement (AYM) is a clear example of young African minds and youth working tirelessly to define their place as today and tomorrow’s leaders, to influence positive change and the events of the African continent and the world at large through strategic non-violent activism and capacity building. #Stand Up against Xenophobia! Act Now – here we can loudly hear the voices of the AYM with a Petition to His Excellency President Jacob Zuma to take decisive steps and actions to “speak out against xenophobia and put an end to xenophobic tendencies and violence … for every life is precious and important … we believe in one world, one Africa, and one destiny…”
Likewise we have seen and continue to see how unionized youth from universities across South Africa – nationals and non-nationals, organisations, faith-based institutions, among others, have taken to the streets to say “No to Xenophobia”.
As we reiterate that no society can live in isolation, our ties and support to mother land South Africa and Africa at large should therefore not dwindle, but remain tremendously strong especially in the midst of this appalling crime against humanity. Effective and sustainable solutions will and can only be reached contingent on our support to authorize our voices to be heard as we condemn these xenophobic attacks, and as we adopt and implement decisive mechanisms to manage this crisis moving forward.
Let us therefore as citizens of Africa and the world, while strategizing on concrete solutions, also remember and reflect on these accurate and inspirational words of Nelson Mandela –
“We cannot blame other people for our troubles. We are not victims of the influx of foreign people into South Africa. We must remember that it was mainly due to the aggressive and hostile policies of the apartheid regime that the economic development of our neighbours was undermined.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to have, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart that its opposite.”
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Lukong Stella Shulika is an independent researcher, a contract lecturer with the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and is pursuing a PhD in Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies at the university.
Moses Mphatso is a writer, a blogger, and contract lecturer with School of Social Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He also holds a Master of Social Science (MSSc) degree in Sociology.
Featured Photo from KwaZulu-Natal.