Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Apartheid, Human Rights, Refugees, Xenophobia

We helped South Africans. Why won’t they help us?

South Africa has a long history of movement of labour within the country and within the region. Have we forgotten that workers from Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland risked their lives to mine the minerals that built our country’s economy?
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To that I would like to add the fact that when our brothers in South Africa were in need, we were there for them. My country welcomed many refugees from South Africa fleeing Apartheid, especially after the June 16 events.

On top of that, our countries, “the Frontline States,” (1) were frequently attacked by South Africa, with the complicity of the United states, for harbouring ANC, PAC and brothers and sisters belonging to others parties. During these attacks, our nationals were also killed, but we saw it as a loss to war. We were waging a war and supporting our siblings across the border.

Why is it that now these same siblings hack and murder us when we need them? We helped them when they were in need for ideological reasons. Why won’t they help us when we’re in need for survival reasons (food, livelihood, a roof, etc.)? It is indeed true that…

A: The collapse of apartheid and the advent of democracy in South Africa was regionally supported by a group of southern African states called the Frontline States. These were Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and, from 1980, Zimbabwe. The Frontline States were formed in 1970 to co-ordinate their responses to apartheid and formulate a uniform policy towards apartheid government and the liberation movement. For the liberation movement in South Africa, the formation of the Frontline States was a welcomed development and a new front in the fight against apartheid.
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B: Support from the African frontline states was crucial, and it came at great human and economic costs.
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C: At the height of apartheid racism and discrimination parents even had mea and ways of reminding themselves that they are human beings and they belong to Africa. This included naming their children in a manner that maintained this memory. Phyllis Naidoo writes about a South African couple who were exiled in Lesotho and named their first child “Le Rona Re Batho” (We too are people). This forms a theme of a real story where the father to Le Rona Re Batho was killed together with about 44 other South Africans and Lesotho nationals in a raid by the apartheid forces of the time. These were people who were crying out proclaiming that they were also people and deserved to be treated like human beings. The same cry is made by those who have suffered through these senseless xenophobic attacks- “LE RONA RE BATHO!”
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20 Comments

  1. Sokari

    I hear you on this. The more I too think about it the more upset and confused I get. It’s not just the sheer brutality and selfishness of those carrying out these acts of violence but the lack of action to protect innocents and arrest the guilty by the state (police, ANC & government) makes them complicit in the violence. It’s unforgivable and as you say only 14 years since the end of apartheid. It’s as if after struggling for years to help your kin get out of prison then they turn round and spit in your face or in this case set you on fire or crack your head option with a machete.

    Sotho @ the last link doesnt work

  2. A friend has just sent me this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbUSy-hkiH8 together with a poem that I will post as soon as she’s given me permission to do so.

    There’s a lot of incomprehension in my heart about this. How low can humans go, really?

    Rethabiles last blog post..HALF-CASTE(by John Agard)

  3. To add to what Sokari said, it’s even sadder because it appears that the citizenry are behind the butchering. The few comments I have heard directly from or regarding the “normal South African people” is something to the extent of:

    “We can’t help your people”/ “Go solve your problems in your own country” / “Maybe this will make the government eventually understand”

    Mwangi – the Displaced Africans last blog post..Stuff African People Like: Money

  4. BLAME NOBODY!

    EXPECT NOTHING!

    DO SOMETHING!

    I respectively disagree with the title “We helped South Africans. Why won’t they help us?”. How about selfless service? Why should South Africa help anyone when it is unable to help itself. Lets leave out the savagery of the attacks (Shaka Zulu would have been proud) that will haunt and damage a lot of people for the rest of their lives.

    This fight must go out to the front line states including Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland. Why have your nationals people fled their homes to affluent SA? The government of SA may have created a hell where crime, xenophobia and racism (ask the asians and the whites) is a way of life. But the questions to other countries in the region remain.

    I wouldn’t even ask about the massive presence of Nigerian. Durban, South Africa: A City Made For Tourists written in 2001 by By Obi. Akwani is an eye opener. I also recommend Sokari’s travelog within Blacklooks. The signs have always been there, but until people die in numbers, nobody gives a fiddler’s fart.

    Beautys last blog post..The Greed Game? The smart game!

  5. Sokari

    Beauty @ I have to respectively disagree with your statement on immigration (which basically applies to everywhere) I dont think that is the point. People all over the world are migrating every day and have done since time. On that level I dont think the violence is about immigrants per se (see my original two posts). Take any African country and you will find thousands of “foreign” nationals. The same argument is used here about Polish and Romanians or Senegalese and Ecuadorians in Spain. I dont see the problems of SA or UK or Europe as being due to large numbers of immigrants – I dont buy that argument, it’s diversionary.

    When countries in the region supported SA during Apartheid I dont think they did it thinking we want to be paid back. On the contrary I believe they did it selflessly.

    The country is complex with race and violence dominating day to day life for the past 300 years. Humanity cannot be caged and brutalised and expect to come out of that wihtout some shit remaining. A child abused often becomes a child abuser… And lets put this in context that the perpetrators are in a minority. What I find more troubling is the complicity of the police and government.

    Maybe I just refuse to believe people are inhumane and plain bad – I am clutching at straws trying to find something that makes sense to me on a personal level as well as by the political me. I

    Mwangi @ I am sure this group exists. However all the people I have personally spoke to or communicated with have been appalled and depressed by the violence many running around trying to give support to migrants. But then the people I know are from a certain political space!

  6. I am not one bit surprised at what is taking place in South Africa. For it has just come to comfort me in my inner most believe that, there is no such thing like solidarity based on color. The reaction of Black South Africans or those who are poor could be ruled as ungrateful, but it was expected. Furthermore, their reaction is today widely known simply because of the media is today widely open an accessible.

    But the attack and expulsion of black Africans from black african countries is routine. Remember Ghana, must go? Remember the expulsion of Cameroonians from Gabon? Remember the extortion, harassments of Nigerian traders in Cameroon, which eventually forced Abacha to invade Bakassi? Remember Ivory coast where not only foreigners from neighboring countries became the games to kill but Ivorians from the supposed wrong part of the country and wrong religion? The continent is replete with the South African current case. But whether we like it or not, it is all human nature. For we human beings Black or White, we are quick to forget, especially when our interest is at stake. As for the claims made by the Front line states, while I think they are right, but I also think, they should not use their sacrifices as a right to stay in South Africa. Because you have ones helped some one those make him or her everlastingly indebted to you.

    Has the front line states helped South Africans than Nigerians? Why are Nigerians not complaining? I think it is high time for Nigeria to start asking a return upon all the investment and sacrifices she has done to all African states. If there is one who has not received Nigerian state, let her stand up. In short, I suspect there is a third hand in the current South African crisis. People want to dirty Thabo Mbeki, the South African president.

  7. Sokari

    Ellie @You are right that this is not a first but I dont think it is “human nature”. Notions of nationalism, exclusion and ownership are constructs not given.

    “my inner most believe that, there is no such thing like solidarity based on color” – I dont understand why you find this comforting? Lack of solidarity is often based on the above constructs which only benefit the ruling class.

    First you say that people should not see help as “everylasting indebted to you”. Then you go on to say that Nigerians should ask for a “return upon all the investment and sacrifices…” This approach is not helpful and implies everything done is done under the premise that it becomes a debt!

    The two are contradictory

    As for Nigeria – they should start acknowledging the damage they have done to their own backyard. There is a whole region under occupation whose lives have been destroyed by governments and multinationals.

  8. anengiyefa

    ” Shaka Zulu would be proud” This supports my belief that black South Africans have a habitual inclination towards violent behaviour. Ellie B. Smith mentions the expulsions of foreigners from Gabon, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivore. None of these were violent, even though the expulsions were carried out for roughly the same reasons for which black South Africans are attacking black migrants, killing them and destroying their property.

    I believe that many black South Africans in the wake of apartheid’s demise are seriously disillusioned, and that this has heightened their feelings of bitterness towards the migrants. Added to that is the desperate situation in Zimbabwe which has led to unprecedented numbers of migrant Zimbabweans fleeing to South Africa.

  9. Sokari

    Anengiyefa @ it is sweeping statements like
    “This supports my belief that black South Africans have a habitual inclination towards violent behaviour” that are the basis of “myth creation” and “stereotyping” which results in the very violence being condemned eg “Zimbabweans are taking our jobs” “Malawians are raping our women” etc etc

  10. “This supports my belief that black South Africans have a habitual inclination towards violent behaviour.”

    Where did you get that belief? Take a look at South African history and see who has been violent in that land for the past few hundred years.

    This sort of generalisation brings little into the debate. What factor do you think makes the black South African “habitually violent”?

    Rethabiles last blog post..REFUGEE(by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers)

  11. anengiyefa

    @ Sokari, while there is some truth in what you say, for me the evidence seems quite clear.

    Even before the current spate of violent attacks on migrants, it was in South African cities that the largest number of violent crimes were reported, as compared to other cities in Africa. The murder rate in Johannesburg is unsurpassed by any other city on the continent. Rape is rife. What might be responsible for this? I think it is a combination of several factors, but the predisposition by a significant number of the members of that society towards violence, is most likely to be one of the more important factors.

    Violence in the long struggle against apartheid did not help either, because violence seemed to become an entrenched part of the system. Even the police use violence more extensively than is the case in many other countries.

  12. Anonymous

    Sokari, your “Maybe I just refuse to believe people are inhumane and plain bad – I am clutching at straws trying to find something that makes sense to me on a personal level as well as by the political me.” was my thinking in changing the roles here. Why must SA take all the blame? Why blame migration for savagery? US & EU are the main migration destinatons but without the kill all foreigners.

    I also reflected on the Shaka Zulu punt, I meant it. BLAME NOBODY, EXPECT NOTHING, DO SOMETHING. What? That is the tomorrowland work that every African should be working on today. The killings and hate will continue but a way out is to start accepting the knowns. Africans are fleeing their respective countries and it is not migration as we know it. It is something more sinister, including savagery.

  13. Sokari, your “Maybe I just refuse to believe people are inhumane and plain bad – I am clutching at straws trying to find something that makes sense to me on a personal level as well as by the political me.” was my thinking in changing the roles here. Why must SA take all the blame? Why blame migration for savagery? US & EU are the main migration destinatons but without the kill all foreigners.

    I also reflected on the Shaka Zulu punt, I meant it. BLAME NOBODY, EXPECT NOTHING, DO SOMETHING. What? That is the tomorrowland work that every African should be working on today. The killings and hate will continue but a way out is to start accepting the knowns. Africans are fleeing their respective countries and it is not migration as we know it. It is something more sinister, including savagery.

    Beautys last blog post..The Greed Game? The smart game!

  14. “Where did you get that belief?”

    You answered that, thank you, even if erroneously. The truth is that violence is rife wherever unfair differences in status exist. Violence by the Nazis against other people was initially due to this, as well. It was wrong. Contemporary Germans have launched semi-violent diatribes against Turks who live in Germany today. That is wrong. South Africans are doing so. It is wrong. Do you think black South Africans have a gene for violence or something?

    In my own country, Lesotho, Chinese immigrants have been targeted by locals who are frustrated, as they look at their own poverty and the comparative affluence of the foreigners. That violence, too, is wrong.

    Some Russian elements have taken to beating up foreigners and filming the beatings to show on the Internet as a warning to other foreigners to stay away. Wrong reaction to decreasing purchasing power.

    There are other examples.

    How, then, do you come to your conclusion? And I ask again, “What factor do you think makes the black South African ‘habitually violent’?”

    Rethabiles last blog post..REFUGEE(by Phillippa Yaa de Villiers)

  15. anengiyefa

    @Rethabile, “habitually violent” is your phrase, not mine. If I remember correctly, what I said was that black Soth Africans have a habitual inclination towards violent behaviour. And as far as I can see, the evidence confirms this. It seems to me that they are more likely to react violently to situations than most others. This is not just about acts of violence against immigrants. The record shows that violent crime in South Africa means that the country’s cities are among the most dangerous on the continent.

    There is negative feeling towards immigrants in many countries, but there are not many in which such widespread and spontaneous attacks have occured. It seemsto me that violence is seen as a way of doing things. But given the history of South Africa over the last few centuries, its not difficut to understand why.

  16. I do not think an answer to the question of “What factor do you think makes the black South African ‘habitually violent’?” will help SA come to terms with the savagery that took place. It happened and it will not undo itself. What were the lessons learnt? How do we prevent this spreading to other African countries? are the now questions. Courage to engage with the future should be our desire.

    Beautys last blog post..The Greed Game? The smart game!

  17. Hello Sokari

    I will want to begin by apologizing for a statement which I made and which seem to have given a wrong perception of my persona. I can’t be happy at what is going in South Africa. But what I wanted to say and which I may have wrongly expressed, was that, most often, I have heard people claim that, solidarity is based on color. But since I have always denied such notions, I just wanted to point out that, the South African example as an evidence that, solidarity is never built along or around color.

    I also noted that, I was a tad contradictory, because I wanted Nigeria to also start requesting her own, for all the sacrifices she has done to other African countries. Well, while I did not really mean business or wasn’t serious, Nigeria will not go that low. I nevertheless brought up the idea because, I read some victims of the unacceptable violence were claiming that, because they aided South Africans in the past, they have become liabilities . Does that make me contradictory?

    As for Nigeria’s backyard or I guess , it was the Niger Delta that, you were talking about, I know your mastery of the subject. But in all humility, I think you are aware that, the problem of the Niger Delta is as old as Modern Nigeria. Furthermore, it also appears as though, those claiming to fight for change in the region are toeing contradictory lines. For example, they do take as hostage engineers and other contractors send to work in the region and not necessarily in the Oil industry but to construct roads and bridges. The Nigerian government is also not honest or truly dedicated at finding a lasting solution. As things stand, it seem both parties like what is going on. On this, thank you very much for reacting to my comment and I must also confess hereon that, your page is truly an educative place. In other words, it is a gem. Remain Blessed.

    Elie B. Smiths last blog post..elie-smithsstory: Nyoh Moses

  18. Beauty,
    That’s just it… I do not think that black South Africans are “habitually violent.” I wanted to find out why anengiyefa thought they were. Or (correction) why they had “a habitual inclination towards violent behaviour.”

    I tend to think that anybody can “have a habitual inclination towards violent behaviour” depending on the circumstances of their life.

  19. anengiyefa

    “I tend to think that anybody can “have a habitual inclination towards violent behaviour” depending on the circumstances of their life.”

    Precisely my point Rethabile. And the circumstances of the lives of many of South Africa’s black people over many years makes for the likelihood that this would be especially so in their case, as the facts clearly suggest.

  20. I would like to explore the savagery that goes on in most African nations and the Caribbean. 1st hand experiences in Nigeria where acts of violence sporadically take place. The tragedy of Nigeria despite its vast oil wealth is its failure to provide adequate education for the vast majority of the population. Its institutional failures included schools that can’t teach, unhealthy healthcare systems, police that can’t enforce the law, judicial system without justice, and many more that led to migration or fleeing. Cry for my beloved country rather than mock her was my comment on the news that a Cat Turns Into A Middle Aged Woman In Nigeria; Crowd Sensibly Beats Her Senseless with pictures is a type of mindless act of savagery that can drive you mad.

    In the meanwhile there is not a single Caribbean island state that is not threatened with a tide of violence. Haiti, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad are besieged by murder and mayhem, blood and hellfire by Darcus Howe in When law and order break down is another type of black on black violence that is beyond senseless. The citizens of these islands are alert to the fact that they are living on the edge of darkness.

    These two examples are my benchmarks when I referred to what we saw in SA a couple of weeks ago. I do not accept that it is stereotyping to inform on what we have all accepted that regardless of its root causes is not acceptable anywhere on the planet bar the Nationalist Skinheads worldwide. Even though their home countries are working hard to eradicate these but I am yet to see one African state come up with a government that does not use its police as its thugs. That is the type of black savagery I am talking about in Africa but the SA type simply is beyond believe.

    Beautys last blog post..53 Nigerians were arrested in Málaga, Spain

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