By Bernard Wainaina
I bow my head in shame at what is happening in the tail end of Africa continent that is known as South Africa.
For,if indeed Africa is haunted by demons,then it is only accurate to say that they reside in South Africa and only visit other African countries for short missions.
There is a new wave of self-destructive
behaviour sweeping across Black South Africa.
It is a reckless, misdirected and perilous energy;
drifting on a plot-less path; a dangerous force unprecedented in the continent’s recent history.
Its mindless manifestation is worse than the tragedy of slavery, the punishment of colonialism, the enigma of corruption, the curse of tribalism or the brutalities of military rule and the horrors of genocide.
It is called xenophobia,and it is localised in Black South Africa.
The frightening truth about the rise of this
self-destructive force is that, there appears
to be a tragic connection between South Africa’s
lack of self- knowledge and the visionless
drive for what the rest of Africa wants to become.
In essence this condition is reflective of a state
of psychological dissonance and psychic
disconnectedness now finding expression in
self-destructive acts of meaningless
violence, rape, brutality and chaos spiking crime rate in Black South Africa.
It is a force driven by monarchial zealotry, tribal fanaticism and of course pure xenophobia.
Based on these facts,Black South Africa appears to have chosen a path towards perdition.
This is evident in the rise of xenophobic attitudes, religious extremism, tribal self-
entrenchment and the use of parochial
ideas to justify the inept actions of tribal
minded and poor BLACK SOUTH AFRICANS.
Xenophobia as an ideological construct is
an expression of a mental condition of
systemic poverty and backward thinking.
It displays itself through myopic cultural
attitudes like the archaic Zulu monarchy whose King recently incited his subjects to chase away foreign africans; low self-esteem and deep feelings of group self-emptiness after deriding itself that it does not belong to Black Africa .
Hence, xenophobic BLACK people target imaginary foreigners as a means to exert their collective frustrations, through group initiated violence.
Xenophobia thrives in cultures where endemic conditions of poverty exist.
It is used politically by the incompetent ruling
elite to instigate the exploited masses in order to divert their attention from their real socio-economic challenges.
Xenophobia is being used in South Africa, in this case; to vent the anger of a powerless and
dispossessed people, against their dire
economic conditions in face of Black South Africa superiority complex against other africans.
This hate of “foreigners,” reflects the
prevailing social hopelessness in post-
Apartheid South Africa.
Psychologically, Black South Africans are a wounded people, psychically injured by the anathema of racism, still bleeding from the psychic scars of Apartheid.
Xenophobia has become the inward expression of the long cycle of racism that continues to haunt the historic imagination of the southern part of the continent.
Consequently, xenophobia directly gives credence to the racist ideologies that were used to justify Apartheid.
It is as though the BLACK people of
South Africa have forgotten the price Africa
paid to support their struggle.
These acts of barbarity, bigotry, ethnocentric bias, tribal calls for isolationism, prejudice and
intolerance; speaks of a deeper sense of
psychic sickness which Black South Africans have not yet been able to exorcise themselves
from their post-Apartheid history.
In essence, the characteristics of violent
mob behaviour led by tribal vigilante gangs,
criminals and hoodlums; provides us with
insightful signals into the socio-psychotic
conditions inherited in the aftermath of
No doubt this condition was created and engendered by a long history of physical and psychic abuse caused by the brutal racist and fascist South African police, witnessed by the world during the struggle against Apartheid.
It is therefore not surprising – though
shocking as it is – to know that because
South Africa was conceived out of violence,
it continues to propagate itself by means of
violence; through the uneducated BLACK
conscience of a post-Apartheid generation.
Violence therefore begets and replicates
itself and this would require a deeper sense
of social self-examination to change and
heal the wounded psyche of a people who
have known nothing but violent oppression.
Xenophobia, therefore like racism is a
mental illness festering on BLACK Minds in South Africa .
It is a sickening in any form, especially when it exists amongst the same racial group who suffered from racial domination.
In essence the victim has now become the victimizer.
This shows that the efforts by Mandela to
reconcile South Africans to their past, by
setting up the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission; in the hope for a moral and
psychological healing, has failed.
Black South Africans have now turned their hate onto African immigrants and this would stand for years to come, as one of the most tragic incidents to scar the conscience of Africa in recent history.
The fact that African countries went to great lengths to sacrifice their resources in support of the struggle against Apartheid.
Obviously, this fact
seems to have escaped those illiterate Black South Africans who have taken to the streets of Johannesburg and Durban to terrorise their fellow Africans for being “foreigners.”
Xenophobia can therefore be classified as a
deranged condition of socio-historical
psychosis, caused by the pathology of
oppression, the persistent violence of
poverty and the pedagogy of self-hate indoctrined in Black South Africans.
It causes those who suffer from the mental
malady of xenophobia to perceive otherness as a threat.
Therefore, they adopt a reactionary response to social diversity, by seeking ways to resist or destroy cross- cultural and multicultural interaction.
In this case, the rise of xenophobia in Black South Africa is the manifestation of a collective
sense of tribal-based backwardness,illiteracy and the evidence of historic oppression that its people have known for decades.
After all, Apartheid is institutionally over, but it is still functional within the collective conscience of Black South Africans, expressed through barbaric deviant behavior and hatred of otherness.
Burning Ghanaians in public – and other
hundreds of African victims – is proof that
African history has taken on a twisted turn.
We all saw how Black South Africans were
burning each other alive in the violent lead
up to the dismantling of Apartheid.
However, to turn this horrible and satanic
weapon of terror against fellow Africans
gives all the evidence that Black South Africa has not exorcised itself of the hellish and
demonic nightmare of Apartheid.
This proves that a disillusioned black people, deprived of their own sense of self-definition and identity, living in a nameless place South of Africa; will turn to violence – against each other –in times of crisis.
In effect, there is a feeling of pain, a burning sensation of horrific disappointment and sadness that seizes the imagination of any African who is conscious of the tragic condition of Black South African history.
Black South African’s xenophobic behavior is a
great threat to the foundation of our
collective humanity as Africans.
It provides every racist in the world the right to
question our existential essence as a people.
Too often Africans at home and in the Diaspora are the first to point figures and demonstrate at the violent acts of racism and police brutality against people of African descent.
But in truth the acts of self-betrayal, self-engendered violence and self-instigated chaos starts at the doorstep of our culture of failed Black leadership.
Through the perpetuation of such xenophobic driven acts of violence and public barbaric brutality,Black South Africans are giving the world all the justification it needs to use violence against people of African descent, especially in the Diaspora.
This brings us to the fact that Africa is at a new
crossroads and the evidence of failed leadership makes it even worse.
If our Black post apartheid leaders have failed us; whom do we turn to, to lead Africa into the future now that Madiba is gone?
The poverty of Black SouthAfrican thinking, its unemployed manpower and underutilized potential, the exploitation and wasted natural/mineral wealth, corruption and the practicing of
redundant cultures irrelevant to modernization and development; and Africa’s obsession with the opiate of oppressive religions, is driving the souther tip of this continent towards insanity, chaos and confusion.
Black South Africa indeed has become the tragic example to show what the illusion of
freedom can become, when a people are
not prepared historically and intellectually
for their own liberty and liberation.
Freedom requires an acknowledgement of
human rights, duties and responsibilities.
A free people are expected to show a sense of
humanism, egalitarian consciousness, self-
reliance, historic awareness, tolerance and
respect for the rights of others.
In the struggle against Apartheid,Black South African exiles were hosted, trained, educated,
financed, encouraged and feed with
welcoming arms around the world,
especially in many African countries
including Ghana in particular.
Kwame Nkrumah expended Ghana’s
resources to support freedom fighters and
hosted Anti-Apartheid and Pan-African
Unity Conferences, which in the end cost
him his Presidency.
This is why this incident of burning Ghanaians in the streets of South Africa will not be forgiven or forgotten; simply because of the collective sense of pain and empathy we all feel as Africans.
It is also because of the shame that this incident brings on Africa and the Diaspora.
We Africans – especially “other” Africans – share a collective sense of shame for slavery, racism, the fragmentation of our continent, poverty, the evidence of poor leadership and now these shameless barbarism against fellow Africans by a nameless African country – called South Africa – is the worst of all the shames Africa has known in recent years.
If there is any sense Pan African
consciousness left in the minds of African
leaders, let it be displayed at the next
African Union Summit, by calling on Jacob
Zuma to answer questions about the
criminality of xenophobia in Black South Africa.
Bernard Wainaina is an Independent Agribusiness Advisor and CEO at Profarms Consultants®,Nairobi,Kenya.
He mainly works with Agribusiness Youth Groups in Eastern African Region.
“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®
“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®