A few South African bloggers are thinking about positive steps to take with regard to the current xenophobia crisis in South Africa. Stii asks, “What can we as bloggers do about the Xenophobia crisis?” and Mike Stopforth calls on South African bloggers to do something. Meanwhile, Afrigator has launched a special Xenophobia Crisis Page.
So I just read Mike’s call for help. Mike is so damn right. We’re all sitting on our asses behind our computers and saying things like “shame, poor foreigners” [sic] while we do the sum total of zero. Great bloody help that is, hey?!
I’ve though of this idea for a long, LONG time now, but I do not have a clue how to instigate such a thing, nor do I have the know-how of how it works. My idea is to have like a trust fund, NGO or something to which bloggers/technology people can contribute to financially. I’m more than willing giving money to any organization, but it would be nice to do it collectively as an organization I believe in, like this blogosphere I belong to. I do know that this is a fairly touchy subject and might well be a shitload of work, but I’d like something like this to happen!
Yesterday I wrote about how I felt we needed to do something more as bloggers (i.e., more than just write) about the xenophobia crisis in our country. I’ve had numerous responses, Stii came up with some suggestions and I also gather that a march has been organised.
I’ve also just received an email from my friend Dion Forster, who is a prolific blogger, respected leader in the Methodist church and a Mac and Vespa evangelist to boot, referring to his blog post from today. This hopefully provides you or your company with another practical avenue for contributing to the situation…
SA Rocks finds a list of things that South Africans can do to help foreigners:
Here’s a list I found from a facebook group:
Speak with your local councillor, individually or in a group, and ensure that (s)he calls a ward meeting to condemn violence.
Start conversations with family members, friends, neighbours, colleagues, fellow learners and students, etc. about xenophobia and violence and about taking a public stance against it.
Call a meeting at your place of work and organise a discussion on the violence and on xenophobia.
Join your community policing forum and ensure that the CPF acts to protect foreign nationals and anyone else being threatened or targeted in your area.
Report any agitation or threats against foreign nationals or groups of South Africans to the police.
Check with police stations, community centres and churches sheltering victims of violence on what material donations are needed, and donate blankets, food and clothes, as needed.
Participate in any public forums you can access, including calling into talk radio shows, public meetings, writing letters to newspapers, etc.
My Afritude blogs about “The SA Bubble Divide”:
After chatting to people I think that bubble has got bigger because certain sections of the population are ‘shutting down’ from communication and what’s happening around them in order ‘to cope’… How much can people take with the constant reports of corrupt officials, lack of leadership, greed, crime, violence, rape [including children] etc etc. it all seems to have just got too much for some to bear.
No matter what anyone says, the recent events have shown that this time, we are very much part of the ‘pity box’ that is seen as Africa and we clearly don’t have the tolerance or control we should have for our African brothers and sisters or their children. Even when our people [in years gone by], have been hosted by other African countries in their time of need. Someone mentioned the government is to blame for allowing poor communities to be burdened with more poverty. I agree with that, but we as South Africans still have a choice, why such violence?
Waiting in Transit wonders, “How could this happen in South Africa?”:
This xenophobia problem is getting way out of hand. What the mainstream media has failed to give significant coverage to though, the climate of fear which is being created across the country. This is not only facilitated by the violence which is spreading from province to province and town to town. Just this weekend, one of my friends whose family is originally from Malawi couldn’t leave his house because his dad was getting death threats over the phone.
This aspect is very scary, so many expats from other countries who I work with and deal with on a daily basis are now forced to keep low profiles so that people won’t hurt them or their families. It’s even gone to the point where these “Xenophobics” are using the Zulu language to distinguish whether a person is a foreigner or not. Many South African citizens are now being attacked because they don’t speak Zulu and hence are regarded as immigrants.
An Update from the Waiting in Transit blog highlights the United for Africa site which was launched using a mashup of Google Maps so that the xenophobia attacks can be tracked live and anyone can report further attacks in the country.
Fred publishes statistics regarding foreigners in the country:
Was interested to find out that most of visitors to our beautiful country were from our own continent. According to Eighty-20, out of the 779,094 tourists and visitors to South Africa in February 2008. 549,428 were from Africa. 69% of urban South Africans agree with the statement ‘Immigrants are a threat to jobs for South Africans, they should not be allowed into the country,’ and two thirds of South Africans agree with the statement ‘Most of the problems in South Africa are caused by illegal immigrants / foreigners.’
I think this is also interesting: The number of people the ANC brought back from exile at the end of apartheid was between 13,000 and 16,000.
What must the inhabitants of those countries be thinking now?
In The News changes focus onto how the attacks in South Africa are affecting Robert Mugabe:
Before the attacks took place, the focus was on how the runoff vote in Zimbabwe would pan out amidst the current violence that was taking place in Zimbabwe. The violence in Zimbabwe was getting worse in the build up to the runoff vote with the ruling party being accused of causing the violence so that they strike fear in the country and get people to vote for Mugabe in the runoff vote. There had been calls from the opposition MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, for there to be international monitors for the vote and for there to be UN troops in the country to ease the violence. The SADC region where all looking very closely at Zimbabwe to see what the outcome of the runoff vote will be but now they have to cast an eye on South Africa and Zimbabwe. Mugabe would feel much more comfortable with only one eye on him instead of having both eyes on him. With only one eye on him he may increase the violent attacks on opposition members and maybe find a way to rig the election result.
Mugabe now also has the luxury of turning to the South Africa government and telling them to keep quiet about commenting and trying to interfere with Zimbabwe, until they can sort of the mess in their own country being caused by the xenophobia attacks.
A blog at the University of Cape Town gives information on how the university is undertaking intiatives to help those affected by xenophobia attacks, offering help in a variety of ways:
There are a number of other initiatives underway, such as establishing a register of staff who can provide emergency accommodation for staff and students who may be displaced by the violence, the issuing of statements beyond simple expressions of outrage, the harnessing of analytic, intellectual and professional skills residing in the University community and the mobilisation of networks to bring political pressure to bear. In addition, students and staff are asked to raise issues of xenophobia among peers and in other contexts where challenges to attitude and practice can be effected.
The current situation seems to have stabilized, however there are still foreign nationals living like refugees and in need of desperate help.