Much has been said and written about, in different media, about some of the most unfortunate utterances by His Majesty, King Goodwill Zwelithini, of the Zulu nation and Edward Zuma, the son of the President of South Africa. “Most unfortunate”, not because of the fact that they said what they are alleged to have said, but because the utterances referred to are a sad reflection of the general psychological condition of some Afrikans, whether on the continent or abroad.
Also read : Open Letter to King Goodwill ZwelithiniOpen Letter to Jacob Zuma regarding afrophobia | black on black violenceEdward Zuma what is wrong with you? Foreigners must go!
The silver lining to the dark cloud cast by so respected a King and the President’s son, saying such divisive statements, is the fact that it compels us, as Afrikan people, to engage upon some serious introspection and seek to interrogate and therefore confront some areas of our lives that many people are uncomfortable to deal with or even just acknowledge. Ma-Afrika, we have a problem. Viewed collectively, that is to say, we, the Global Afrikan Nation, as a clearly distinct people group, are suffering from a serious case of post-traumatic stress disorder which is further complicated by a chronic condition of schizophrenia, which has amongst its symptoms, self-hatred, which self-hatred ends up leading to generalised Afri-hatred, thus resulting in Black on Black violence.
Before we go into any depth on the mental condition of our race let me just state categorically that, as far as I am concerned, the King’s and Edward Zuma’s utterances have nothing to do with xenophobia. If we view this as xenophobic, we shall be committing a very grave error of judgement, which error that will lead us to distraction as we will totally fail to address the real issues and concerns. Viewing it as such will deprive us of an opportunity to properly analyse and contextualise these incidents. A wrong diagnosis of a condition can only lead to a wrong prescription and therefore no results in curing the cause, it will be a mere attempt at addressing the symptoms without touching the root cause at all.
Firstly, let us familiarise ourselves with the different meanings of the word xenophobia:
Xenophobia: Unreasoned fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange.
Sources: Oxford Dictionary
and Reference Dictionary
Deep-rooted, irrational hatred towards foreigners
(Oxford English Dictionary; OED).
Unreasonable fear or hatred of the unfamiliar
Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, Dorset and Baber, Simon and Schuster
An excessive and irrational fear of anything foreign. This fear is most often of foreign people, places or objects. People who are xenophobic may display fear or even anger toward others who are foreign. Cited from here
The word xenophobia comes from the two Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning "strange", "foreigner", and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear", (see Oxford Standard English Dictionary' (OED). Oxford Press, 2004, CDROM version and Wikipedia
, for further reading).
Given the above meanings, it should be clear that what we are seeing in South Afrika, happening to Afrikans, at the hands of fellow Afrikans, is something else other than xenophobia. For us to accept the ongoing violence as xenophobia, we have to definitely accept that there is a mental disconnect within the Afrikan. How can it honestly be suggested that an Afrikan, seeing a fellow Afrikan, is seeing a strange or unfamiliar thing? What is so unfamiliar when you see your Afrikanness in a fellow Afrikan? On what basis can a person of Afrikan descent be called a foreigner in Afrika? Surely when Afrikans move around in Afrika it is like a person moving from one room to the next in one big house. Are you a foreigner in the sitting room simply because you moved from the bedroom to the sitting room?
For Afrikans to be considered as foreigners, in Afrika, by fellow Afrikans, is a foreign construct that is barely 130 years old. Prior to the Berlin conference and the irrational division of Afrika, along the lines of white people’s interests, there was no such construct. When Afrikans began to be confined to so-called national boundaries and, overnight, needed passports to move from one part of the continent to the next, then the idea of clansmen, relatives and neighbours becoming foreigners started. The imposition of borders had nothing to do with the interests of Afrikans. It should be interpreted from the perspective that the people who put the borders, in the first place, did so to protect their own interests as they did not trust each other with their newly acquired gains in the form of the land and the mineral wealth of our Ancestors.
The perception of Afrikans as foreigners, within their Mathaland is and will be difficult to overcome as long as we have neo-colonialists, at the helm of the Western and Arab funded Afrikan Union. They have accepted the doctrine of uti possidetis; that is to say, that after colonialism, regardless of proclaimed independence, the Afrikan borders would remain as had been delineated by the colonisers, at the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885. In 1964 the Organisation of African Unity actually resolved that the key doctrine of uti possidetis would apply throughout Afrika, meaning the pre-independence borders, as decided without consultation with the owners of the land, would be maintained intact. It would be deemed illegal to interfere with the borders as decided for us.
Sadly the current African Union has maintained the same line of thought and are causing ordinary people unnecessary headaches, suffering and even death. Besides the fact that in some cases the drawing up of the borders followed natural formations such as rivers or mountains or some such, the borders were arbitrarily drawn. Overnight, friends and families belonging to the same ethnic group found themselves strangers and foreigners, one to the other. Border jumping or irregular undocumented migration is not a recent phenomenon, people did not relate to this craziness. Without borders such things as the Afri-hatred that we see in South Africa would be very unlikely.
The real issue here is that some Afrikan people hate themselves and love and value things totally foreign to themselves. In hating themselves, they lash out at anything, everything and everyone Afrikan, who is unfortunate enough to be close by. They behave like a person who, when he or she sees himself or herself in the mirror and does not like the image, then damages the mirror. There is a definite possibility that damaging the mirror could temporarily make the individual concerned feel better about themselves but it does not, in any manner whatsoever or howsoever, address, nor diminish the blemish that the mirror mirrored back to the owner of the blemish. On the contrary it makes the blemish owner worse when they see another mirror and realise that the blemish is still there.
Within the psyche of many Afrikans is an unfortunate disconnect, that is to say between the belief that you can love yourself but hate and want to destroy that which reminds you of the essence of who you are. Such disconnect leads one to the unfortunate conclusion that, besides suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder we are, in the main, suffering from schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is:
“a brain disorder that affects the way a person acts, thinks, and sees the world. People with schizophrenia have an altered perception of reality, often a significant loss of contact with reality”
“a mental disorder often characterized by abnormal social behavior and failure to recognize what is real. Common symptoms include false beliefs, unclear or confused thinking, auditory hallucinations, reduced social engagement and emotional expression, and inactivity”.
In what manner can it then be suggested that what we are witnessing in South Africa today is a manifestation of schizophrenia on the part of those responsible for and propagating the hate speech and those now responsible for implementing it? Despite there being many areas that would show us up in our schizophrenic ways, for now I will confine myself to the matter at hand, Afri-hatred and in that regard the following aspects should be carefully considered:
1. The way in which these people think, act and see the world, where fellow Afrikans are concerned, is rather distorted. In fellow Afrikans, who, for all intents and purposes, look exactly like them, they see strangers whom they cannot relate to, whereas when they see people from over the seas, they have a tendency to be welcoming and some will even sell their own mathas (mothers) and their souls just to be close to the real foreigners on Afrikan soil.
2. They have a serious loss of contact with reality; as against seeing the oneness of the Global Afrikan Nation and therefore their place within it, they see themselves apart. On the same token, they want to believe that they are members of the human race and that aspect must be respected with the fundamental human rights that flow from that and hence treat other races in a manner dictated by the principles and values of Ubuntu. Whereas when they see fellow Afrikans they see strange beings who must be hated and destroyed, regardless of the fact that they have more in common with them than the people from over the seas.
3. Their social behaviour towards fellow Afrikans is generally disrespectful, disparaging and most times downright antagonistic.
4. They fail to realise the reality of the fact that, whether they like it or not, they share common characteristics to the other members of the Global Afrikan Nation. Though with some degrees of different manifestations they fail to recognise the fact that we share a common cultural heritage, a common history and common political experiences, all coming from the same land-mass Mama Afrika.
5. They entertain false beliefs and are generally unclear and confused in their thinking. For some reason you will hear them talk about South Africa and Afrika, as if to suggest that South Africa is a continent in its own right and that they belong to a separate race called South African and not part of the Afrikan race. Maybe the fact that some have called South Africa a “rainbow nation” makes them think they are more related to other races than their Afrikan kith and kin. If maybe the county was called anything else other than South AFRICA, it could be excusable for them to think that they are not part of Afrika.
Regardless of the fact that Caucasians, Arabs and Orientals, amongst others, are not being attacked despite definitely being foreign in Afrika as a whole, some will argue and say the term xenophobia is appropriate. The premise upon which such argument is being entertained emanates from the fact that Pakistanis and Bangladeshis have been attacked as well. It is a fact beyond dispute that Pakistanis and Bangladeshis have been attacked, but I maintain that some of them have been caught up in the cross-fire, in that they have sometimes been mistaken for Ethiopians, Eritreans or Somalis and their other issue mainly revolves around economic considerations than racial considerations.
To further bolster my assertions that these attacks are just Black on Black violence, as a result of self-hatred manifesting itself as Afri-hatred, let us revisit the May 2008 attacks. In what manner could it be suggested that the Venda people from Limpopo, the Shangani people from Limpopo and Mpumalanga, the Xhosa people from the Eastern Cape were foreigners and therefore deserved to be attacked together with other Afrikans from different Afrikan countries. Which national borders did they cross to move from their provinces to get to Johannesburg in Gauteng? Which passport do they carry, which is different from that issued by the South African Department of Home Affairs, to the people in Johannesburg? What is "xenos" about them? What is "phobos" about them?
Afri-hatred is thus the real issue here, not fear of foreigners at all. The fact that Pakistanis and Bangladeshis have been caught up in the cross-fire does not change the complexion of the real problem. It is high time Afrikan people learnt to love themselves for who they are and therefore accept their kith and kin and advance as the Global Afrikan Nation and not create unnecessary fragmentation. For self-love to be an Afrikan reality we need to deal with the psyche of the Afrikan people. The failure to deal with this can only lead to further destruction of Afrikan people.
See also: Foreigners must go by King Zwelithini | Citizen Zuma's son wants foreigners out of South Africa | News24