Harare, (New Ziana) – While violence of any form or nature should never be condoned, the way Nigerians in particular, and Mozambicans have reacted to the xenophobic attacks in South Africa should serve as a sobering lesson to South Africans that nations – big or small – need each other to survive.
South Africans in Johannesburg and other parts of that country have over the past week been looting shops and businesses belonging to African migrants in a sad development which has since led to five deaths and scores of injuries.
Over the past ten years, South Africans have constantly been demanding that nationals from other African countries should leave their country, accusing them of taking their jobs.
What has always been perplexing about the whole debacle was that it was targeted at fellow Africans, leaving out other races and nationalities who are well known to be found in large numbers in almost every other country in the world.
While it should not be taken as a suggestion that other races should also be targets of the xenophobic attacks, it is however mind-boggling that they are spared while fellow Africans are targeted.
It can safely be inferred that the conditioning that South Africans under apartheid, and blacks in general under colonialism, received that “white” people were superior, makes them hate their fellow blacks while respecting light coloured races.
Reports that Nigerians retaliated to the attacks on their countrymen by targeting South African businesses in that country, notably supermarket chain Shoprite, should at least make South Africans realise that they are also found in other countries and are equally vulnerable to such abhorrent treatment.
All along the South Africans have been behaving as though it was only foreigners who were flocking to their country to disadvantage them while they themselves did not seek opportunities outside.
It is widely believed that South Africans generally do not like to work, and as a result many local and multi-national companies prefer to hire foreigners who, in the case of Zimbabweans, are known the world over to be educated and industrious.
A good example of nationals that are found almost everywhere are the Chinese who have developed technologies that are wanted globally and therefore they emigrate to apply and supply their knowledge and skills.
Similarly, Indians are renowned for their knack for commerce and trade as well as for not fearing to take business risks and as a result, they are found in many parts of the world, engaging in different commercial activities.
The same applies to Nigerians, Pakistanis, Algerians and Arabs to some extent.
The withdrawal by some African leaders from the World Economic Forum on Africa which is taking place in South Africa in protest over the xenophobic attacks should also send a strong message to the South Africans that their barbaric actions are not acceptable in a civilised world which has become a global village.
That South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has failed to explain the actions of his countrymen could probably mean that it is the regrettable work of some uneducated elements who were unfortunately denied education by the apartheid regime and, as a result of the inhuman treatment that blacks were subjected to, they do not value human life.
Or perhaps a hidden foreign hand bent on tarnishing the image of South Africa at a time the eyes and ears of the world were tuned on the country as it played host to the WEF.