For many Africans, South Africa represents a land of opportunity and a haven of tolerance, but a wave of violence has tarnished this image and sent foreigners fleeing for safety. Foreigners have fled for safety from a recent eruption of xenophobic violence in which at least five people have died, shops have been looted and torched, and South Africa’s reputation as a haven of tolerance for the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses of a turbulent continent has been shaken.
“The fabric of the nation is splitting at the seams; its precious nucleus – our moral core – is being ruptured,” the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said this week.
South Africa is to many Africans what America represents to many around the world: an escape, a fresh start, a land of opportunity. When gold was discovered in Johannesburg in 1886, it was soon being mined by men from a dozen African nations. Today the country is a magnet for Congolese, Ethiopians, Malawians, Mozambicans, Nigerians, Somalis, Zimbabweans and others fleeing conflict or seeking to improve their lot. Estimates of immigrant numbers vary from 2 million to 5 million, out of a population of 51 million.
But the recent wave of xenophobia has tarnished this image and fuelled resentment among those who accuse South Africa of an arrogant exceptionalism that looks down on the rest of the continent.
Worst hit is Durban, South Africa’s third-biggest city. In response to these attacks the fairly huge Nigerian community in Durban has organized themselves into a force of resistance to these xenophobic attacks. In this video they are seen sharpening machetes and chanting slogans.
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5 years ago