The Ugly Naked Truth About South African Xenophobia

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By Michael Chishala

“Bob Marley said ‘How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look?’ But little did he know that eventually the enemy will stand aside and look. While we slash and kill our own brothers knowing that already they are the victims of the situation…. She took me outside to the churchyard, showed me graves on the ground. And she said ‘There lies a man who fought for equality. There lies a boy who died in his triumph. Can all these heroes die in vain?'”

South Africans Entrenched in Xenophobic Violence
South Africans Entrenched in Xenophobic Violence

These words were written 22 years ago by the greatest Reggae artist in Africa; Lucky Dube. Being the brilliant social commentator that he was, Dube captured the essence of the Xenophobic violence we recently witnessed in South Africa in these few poignant words. He got to the root of the matter by singing about the black South African violent culture that sadly resulted in his own life being taken in 2007, one year before the last major outbreak of Xenophobia in which more than 60 foreigners were murdered in cold blood.

Dube’s lyrics are a far cry from the shameful public posturing of South African President Jacob Zuma who was not only slow to react to the senseless murders of foreigners, but has blamed the legacy of Apartheid as the root cause of the violent culture in his country. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

I am of the considered view that the extremely violent culture of many black South Africans has its roots back in the early 19th Century during the “Mfecane”, a time of violent tribal warfare in South Africa that was spearheaded by the two powerful chiefs Shaka and Mzilikazi. These two caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands (possibly millions according to some estimates) as they went on rampage, building their empires with ruthless, merciless, violent methods.

An anti-xenophobia activist stands chained in front of a banner, as thousands of people get ready to march against the recent wave of xenophobic attacks
An anti-xenophobia activist stands chained in front of a banner, as thousands of people get ready to march against the recent wave of xenophobic attacks

 

The result was carnage of a kind never witnessed before in Southern Africa as vast tracts of land were left depopulated by tribes that fled northwards as far as East Africa with some landing in Zambia such as the Ngoni and Kololo. Many that escaped the direct killings died of starvation and lack of water during their flight from tyranny.

Shaka and Mzilikazi were extremely cruel leaders who taught their people to have no mercy and not value human life. I posit that that after the first generation was taught, the next one learned it and the violence continues unabated to this day and there seems no willingness in the South African leadership to stop it through education and zero tolerance for criminal activity.

By the time Apartheid was established in 1948, the culture of violence was already deeply entrenched. During apartheid, blacks continued murdering each other as the racist Boers watched. The vast majority of the violent deaths during Apartheid were due to black-on-black violence.

 

It can be argued that the reason the Boers were so heavy-handed with the blacks was precisely because they saw how violent and militant the local tribes already were. The mass murders during Mfecane were done without any recourse to natural justice but the Boers on the other hand had systems of law. Black “trouble makers” were usually put on trial and not not just indiscriminately murdered anyhow. The biggest mischief maker himself Nelson Mandela was put through a public trial and sentenced according to the laws back then.

The Apartheid regime certainly had a hand in the black-on-black violence by often secretly sponsoring divisions but they were preying on an already established violent culture to divide and conquer. The African National Congress (ANC) and Inkhata Freedom Party (IFP) regularly fought many bloody battles during Apartheid. The ANC were the champions of the infamous “necklacing” of perceived enemies, with Winnie Mandela going as far as publicly saying that “With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country” in 1986. During the 2008 Xenophobic attacks, necklacing was used against foreigners. No surprises there.

Xenophobia in South Africa
Xenophobia in South Africa

According to Max Coleman (former member of the South African Human Rights Commission) who wrote the most definitive history of Apartheid repression which was presented to the Desmond Tutu Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 21,000 people were killed during apartheid (1948-1994). 92% of these deaths were due to black-on-black violence. 14,000 out of the 21,000 died during the transition process from 1990 to 1994 when the iron rule of the Boers was loosening.

Only about 7,000 died in 42 years (1948-1990) when the racist Boers were fully in charge. The much-vilified Boers killed less than 2,000 people in 46 years with deaths directly caused by the apartheid security forces being a mere 518. However, there have been on average about 20,000 violent killings per year post-apartheid. It took just one calendar to break the 46-year record of the Boers which included the violent 4 year transition period in which 3,500 people per year got killed on average. Imagine that.

 

 

After crying and fighting for independence, the blacks in South Africa have miserably failed to manage themselves while they continue blaming the white man and foreigners for their perennial problems. Too many South African blacks are so ungrateful for the sacrifices we made to liberate them.

The ANC freedom fighters were housed here in Zambia on government payroll,  coordinating their independence struggle while our nation was becoming bankrupt. My own father was personal friends with Thabo Mbeki when he lived in Mtendere township in Lusaka. We lived with the freedom fighters in our neighbourhood and they were famous for sorting out thieves at night who dared steal from them.

Xenophobic violence - The Herald
Xenophobic violence – The Herald

South Africa is a broken nation with too many people messed up in their heads. This is not going to stop until there is a long term plan to fix it which begins with zero tolerance to crime. Former president Mr Mandela did something to try to heal the wounds but Zuma undid his efforts with passive inaction. The governance systems set up by the British colonialists and the Boers are breaking down daily and it is just a matter of time South Africa ends up a basket case like many African countries, unless urgent interventions are put in place.

South Africa has lost its appeal for many immigrants. Dube’s words described the tribulations of black people oppressed by Apartheid on one side and being attacked by their fellow blacks on the other. There has been a cruel twist of fate as black immigrants who have fled civil wars, brutal dictatorships and economic turmoil in their home countries can now also lay claim to these words by Lucky Dube:

“We are the victims everytime. We got double trouble everytime”.

REFERENCES:

A Crime Against Humanity – Analysing the Repression of the Apartheid State
http://www.sahistory.org.za/archive/crime-against-humanity-analysing-repression-apartheid-state

The Killing Fields of post-apartheid South Africa
http://www.jmm.org.au/articles/321.htm

SA Police Crime Statistics
http://www.saps.gov.za/resource_centre/publications/statistics/crimestats/2014/crime_stats.php

Crime and Policing in Post-apartheid South Africa
https://books.google.co.zm/books?id=mCZE2NE1ph0C

How many blacks died under Apartheid?
http://iluvsa.blogspot.com/2011/06/how-many-blacks-died-under-apartheid.html

Apartheid Left SA a sick nation
http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/apartheid-left-sa-a-sick-nation-zuma-1.1850779#.VUCEKCe1Gko

Necklacing
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necklacing

Mfecane
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mfecane

LUCKY DUBE – VICTIMS (VIDEO)

VICTIMS LYRICS

Didn’t know she was crying, until now as she turns to look at me
She said boy Oh boy you bring tears to my eyes
I said ‘What?’
She said Boy Oh boy you bring tears to my eyes

Bob Marley said ‘How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?’
But little did he know that eventually the enemy will stand aside and look

While we slash and kill our own brothers
Knowing that already they are the victims of the situation

Still licking wounds from brutality
Still licking wounds from humiliation
She said these words, and the wrinkles on her face became perfect trails for the tears and she said

We are the victims everytime
We got double trouble everytime

She took me outside to the churchyard, showed me graves on the ground
And she said ‘There lies a man who fought for equality
There lies a boy who died in his triumph
Can all these heroes die in vain?’

While we slash and kill our own brothers
Knowing that already they are the victims of the situation

Still licking wounds from brutality
Still licking wounds from humiliation

We are the victims everytime
We got double trouble everytime

By Lucky Phillip Dube, 1993 (RIP)

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6 COMMENTS

    • Death [ wikipedia.org]:
      On 18 October 2007, Lucky Dube was killed in the Johannesburg suburb of Rosettenville shortly after dropping two of his seven children off at their uncle’s house. Dube was driving his Chrysler 300C, which the assailants were after. Police reports suggest he was shot dead by carjackers who did not recognize him and believed that he was Nigerian. Five men were arrested in connection with the murder; three were tried and found guilty on 31 March 2009. Two of the men attempted to escape and were caught. The men were sentenced to life in prison. Until his death he was a Christian and refrained from smoking or drinking alcohol in order to set an example for his children and others who looked up to him.

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