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Xenophobia again?

Andrew Harding | 08:02 UK time, Monday, 31 May 2010

I used to live in Nairobi, and everyone knew that the most dangerous time of year in the Kenyan capital was the build-up to Christmas. Suddenly everyone either had, or needed, extra cash. Crime - muggings, burglary and car-jacking - shot up as robbers preyed on people preparing to head home for the holidays.

I thought of Kenya this morning as I read this unsettling article in Johannesburg. For weeks now, South Africa's airwaves and newspapers have been warning about a possible explosion of xenophobic violence here after the World Cup. Has it already started?

"Explosion" is an overstatement for what's happening right now. But it's worrying nonetheless. Some people make it sound as if a repeat of 2008's vicious wave of attacks on foreigners is inevitable. It's not - but at the same time I'm not convinced by the rather blithe reassurances I've heard from some officials here.

I was in Nelspruit last week and got no sense of any looming tensions between locals and the large number of undocumented Zimbabweans and Mozambicans staying there. But in Cape Town earlier in the month, everyone seemed to be warning of trouble. Our Malawian taxi driver said he and all his friends had packed their suitcases and were ready to bolt, as the euphoria of the tournament wore off and locals started looking for people to blame for the fact that four weeks of football hadn't brought them the wealth or the changes they'd anticipated.

I'm still convinced the World Cup will be a huge success. But xenophobia could yet provide this country and continent with the saddest postscript.


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  • 1. At 3:30pm on 31 May 2010, Prosper Yao Tsikata wrote:

    Are we going to see a repeat of what happened in Nigeria when World beauty pageant contest had to be canceled as a result of violence? South Africans should wake up and understand the fact that these xenophobic attacks will reinforce a bad image for their country and the continent.

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  • 2. At 4:44pm on 31 May 2010, evelyn wrote:

    It will be really sad to see such a violent end that will mar the beauty of hosting this tournament. Everyone should wake up and be on the lookout. South Africans can make a difference by being friendly even if they don't feel like it. We don't need the dark image some people try to give us.

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  • 3. At 5:28pm on 31 May 2010, bart wrote:

    Now these comments really scare me I am not kidding.

    Would it make some sense if after this mess these tournaments be awarded first to places without racial or economic problems in the first place. And political stability first could be added to the requirement.

    Did these organizers really expect people to change for the better (especially the poor and disadvantaged) because of new buildings and the world would be watching.

    Awarding prematurely these competitions to places like Seravyio Winter Olympics which is now a bombed out ruin and a smoldering reminder that good intentions to better sides is better left behind when making these awards of site.

    As for boosters for these cities I wonder if when proposing these things the profit from construction near term is the real underlying motivation. Money made profit logged and who really then cares of the residual cost to SA.

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  • 4. At 7:19pm on 31 May 2010, canafridoodle wrote:

    I would like to propose that xenophobia is cyclical and is tightly coupled to having and not having. According to Maslov’s first principle of survival, if physiological needs are not met, the human body simply cannot continue to function and a sense of survival kicks in.
    Simply, should you have plenty of food at your table and a sense of safety then when a stranger knocks on your door, you would be more willing to share. In the absence thereof you might kill him for asking.
    Countries allows migrants in for many reasons and normally do not consider longer term plans when the initial need for foreign workers cease to exist, what happens to the migrants? If food or jobs becomes scarce then who is more entitled to survive? In the absence of clear foreign worker policies and government plans, people will take the law into their own hands.
    I do not think it is a question of IF it will happen, but WHEN it will happen. How ready is the foreign policy infrastructure, support systems, policing deployment to areas of potential outbreaks and UN approved shelters or camps. Has places of safety been broadcasted, what is the TIP Helpline number; can church aid programmes be mobilized fast enough; etc.?
    It is one thing talking about this and debating WHOM the target will be and IF it started already? To me it is more a question of are you as ready for the Xenophobia Conflict as you are for the SWC? What is the government doing to address the 22% unemployment? Maslov’s first principal of survival will be tested soon after the SWC and how far is the 22% going to go in order to feed their families? Will origins matter or is it really about entitlement?

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  • 5. At 10:26am on 01 Jun 2010, Ronsard wrote:

    Hi All. Mr. Harding probably knows Africa quite well by now, but let me tell you I'm from South-Africa and we are for the most part worried about our future. There are many fancy names for murdering and mutilating innocent people such as Xenophobia and the like,but this our daily lives-every day- scared of being robbed, hi-jacked, your wife being raped, your dogs being killed with poisin to get access to your house and belongings etc. and in spite of these challenges we are still a terribly positive bunch, but it is starting to wear thin.

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  • 6. At 11:18am on 01 Jun 2010, Calum McKay wrote:

    Good article.

    I live in a country who shares its southern border with one of the teams heading to the world cup.

    Funny, but when this larger neighbour of ours qualifies for football competitions, its news media, fans the flames of nationalism and xenophobia, e.g. referring to its players as Tommies or opposing teams as the Hun.

    Usually when this team looses, its fans, smash up pubs and attack strangers.

    It's a funny old world!

    C Mck

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  • 7. At 11:46am on 01 Jun 2010, Andrew Harding BBC wrote:

    Thanks for your comments. No, Prosper, I can safely say there's no chance that the World Cup is going to be called off because of what are relatively isolated, but nonetheless worrying, incidents of violence. Bart, I disagree - I think South Africa has proved over the years that it is capable of hosting big sporting events. This is on a different scale, and there are big questions about the wisdom of spending so much on new stadiums in places like Nelspruit. It's very hard to do an accurate cost-benefit analysis on something that will influence so many different parts of the country, but I suspect the overall impact will be positive. Canafridoodle - unemployment is a huge headache for the government here, and I'm afraid that in many poorer townships the rate is far higher than 22%. Ronsard - I hear what you're saying, and yes, South Africa faces huge challenges ahead, but what I'd say is that to me the future looks more like a rollercoaster than a downhill race.

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  • 8. At 3:43pm on 01 Jun 2010, Mze-djimba wrote:

    Again and again, a western journalist particularly the British one try what they know best and do with pride to exaggerate on things, manipulate ideas and whisper evil and create fear in the hearts of the fans and agitate hatred in the hearts & minds of the victims of the robbery of the British empire. They question everything and try as much as they can to put doubts & mistrusts in the hearts of everyone the soon BBC realise that the expected fruits or benefits is not going to alleviate the life and carry the name of the Queen of England.

    For five hundred years the European race embarks on robbery of everything from anywhere, they argue on the rights to do so by claiming superiority over any nation. They destroy any good deeds of any nation and then deny any existent of such thing as good deeds from non European. Nearly every mercenary-white South African and from all over the world are praying for the world cup to crush, and this will please them a lot.

    For the history of the world cup today is the first time is been hold in one non-western nation. Even when they had to send it to Asia they could not gave it to one nation but gave it to two nations at once (Korea- Japan 2002). I see some experts here demanding Andrew Harding to tell them the date the world cup is going to be called off; you guys are very desperate and I have to tell you that there are many who tried much than that for over six years so join the queue. Now after they talked for over 6 years about the ability and readiness for South Africa to host the world cup, the final days has arrives, and every European who land in South Africa feels sham and the heart is paining for the high development infrastructure South Africa put it up for the future of the country, people and the continent.(watch “euronews” and see the very low grade and uncut advert they show about SA)

    So here their painful hearts is talking out of control, from every white hole you hear a so-called intelligence and analyst about bad things on the world cup. Concern to the pointless and shameful article of Mr Harding which can tell us the level reporters and world journalists reach; every country have concern on immigrants and many times clash between locals and the new arrivals whether in America, Europe, Asia or Africa. I lived in a small town call Rotherham in England sometime ago, and I saw a daily clash of whites British vs Indians, Pakistanis and Arabs. The Government pressure from one corner and the public attack from the other side while local media make sure that the realities is concealed.

    Nearly every night you hear guns fighting of the groups in Rotherham at that time I was there. (The British which went everywhere and enrich by wealth from other nations now does NOT want see foreigner in their country) Mr Harding should learn that few days ago his own PM was disgracefully removed from office technically on a question he was asked on the street concern to a British attitude which does not want see even European like her on the streets of England.

    Britain is the one who colonised and robbed the world, and up to now you see a British companies making money everywhere and yet the Brits don’t want see any foreigner in their country in the 21century so what you think about poor South Africans who don’t even want go to the land of their former burglar? In France, Sarko promised and did followed the promised of deporting all immigrants particularly the Africans but that is not enough for him to keep his nose and mouth in Paris but in the last few days he is pursuing the Africans in the city of nice for business with the same Sarkozy who is hunt the Africans in France like a wild animals.

    It’s not easy the situation South Africans found themselves in but through the last 16 years they managed it well. Millions of the Zimbabweans who are the victims of the previous & present British policies flea to South Africa for survivals, the South African Government had the moral obligations to welcome them although they have citizens who are in the same situations as the Zimbabweans. The ANC Government which doesn’t control even 25% of the economy of their country has to try to balance the Whitman’s burdens. If you read history you will see that everywhere British had been expelled they always tries to create conflict.

    And in the last few years England tried very hard to create anarchy in South Africa and among the neighbours, they already sow the seeds by creating the so-called groups areas among the natives and then make sure that they are poorer and ignorant. So hungry person is an angry person with a small push they will start fighting and eating each other. Carryon the good work Mr Harding. We all are humans and have needs like you. Soon you will be award knighthood and then be call “Sir Andrew Harding”. Good luck.

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  • 9. At 03:02am on 02 Jun 2010, Brenda07 wrote:

    8. Mzi-djimba

    Here you go again!
    Zimbabweans flee Zimbabwe because of Mugabe, who, ironically, was their hero just 30 years ago. SA has no moral obligation to Zimbabweans, they have what they wanted - next to no whites in their collapsing economy! Yet they're choosing to flee to the West (they're not just coming to SA) seeking political asylum - another irony and double standard!
    Time to wake up and smell the roses - Africa is struggling because of its own poor leadership, corruption, propaganda and ignorance. No one has a franchise when it comes to evil, goodness, weakness, strength etc etc. Stop the whinning, the pointing finger and the never ending excuses, be different, set an example. There has always been division between tribes, logically, it's why they are divided into tribes.
    The ANC is in total control of what is happening in SA, it sets the pace, the agenda, the tone (eg Malema). What happens to SA down the road is totally in the hands of whoever is voted into power.
    On the contrary wherever the British colonised there has been impressive development. Be careful that you don't enjoy the stuff of colonialism whilst hating the colonisers - that's jealousy! By the way, you wouldn't have a World Cup without the colonisers!

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  • 10. At 3:08pm on 02 Jun 2010, sagat4 wrote:

    Xenephobia is real in SA as in most countries. It seems to occur in the poor areas. For example there have been recent killings of some African business owners in the Soweto. The reason? they were accused of taking businesses away from them. I read somewhere about an Ethopian who was lynched to death by an angry mob because his store was making more money than theirs

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  • 11. At 3:19pm on 02 Jun 2010, Mze-djimba wrote:

    @9Brenda07: when Africans, Indians or Arabs comes to any country in Europe they come to a European land owned by Europeans. in India and China it’s the same thing. When your gangster fathers arrived in Southern Africa they found the land was in the hands of the Africans, and they took it by the power of the gun, you impolite of history.

    From 1904 your thug fathers wrote a nonsense laws in Africa which banned any African from owning any piece of their land you arrogant-ignorant. If you want understand by example look at what is going on in Palestine right now. The Jews with the power of the guns are expelling the Arabs from their land and your thugs leaders went silent, in fact they are helping simply because that is your culture and tradition; to Rob the weak the soon you have gun.

    If England, Germany and France feels that they have the morale obligations to open their doors for their bankrupt roma, polish and the Balkan then why South Africans should not have the morale obligations to share the Whitman’s burden? In fact these mention countries should open the doors to the African-Asian countries Europe stole from.

    Zimbabwe have the population of over 12 million people of native Africans and les than 50 000 of white mercenaries who were sent there by the coloniser to monitor the exploitation of the native and their land, those few whites had owned 100% of the land, where else you could see that in the world? Remember that whites still living in Zimbabwe freely, working in all of the levels of the Government. The issue was only on sharing the African land with the Africans and the so-called Europeans didn’t like. The democracy you are laying to the Iraqis and Afghanis that you went to provide to them the Zimbabweans had to fight and share their blood in order to get freedom & democracy from you, they had to fight to have democracy.

    In 1980s they got the name of independent but the land which they were fighting for it was still colonised by you. The man had been told that he is free but the land under his feet still in the hands of the same coloniser. Could the Americans accepted that when they demanded freedom from the British empire? When your fathers were doing their ritual on killings each other in the WWII, could France accept that the war is end but Paris must remind in the hands of the Germans? Could England accept the end of the war but been told that 10 downing street must remind in the hands of Germany?

    Today the PM of Japan has resigned, do you know why? Do you know what his people want and cause him resign when he failed to provide their demand? If you are fool please don’t try to make everyone like you.

    When the Africans went to get their land England decide to ask world bank and IMF to do what they been put there to do and that is to destroy any nation which doesn’t wants follow the hell instructions of England, Washington and Paris. Keep in mind that in the beginning these institutions were knows as institutions for “development & construction” and later become police offices for the mafias and thugs of the world to incarcerate anyone who demand real independent.

    The Europeans took the land from nothing sucked everything under it and exploited the natives for hundreds of years for the benefit of the Queen of England and now when the Africans ask back their land they have to be punish. Since my fathers were among those who build the empire I wish we could be one of those who enjoy it and have equal life today.

    I guess you and your alike are the ones need to wakeup, on you garbage you said corruption, political failures ……………. Are the cause of Africa’s is suffering. Do you follow what is going on right now in the so-called “PIGS”? you called yourself the renascence, the civilize nations, the intelligent, the elite, the supper rich etc, etc. after seen what is going on right now is there any benefit for you in these titles? You saw what happened in America while she was in the hands of the white Bush and now the black Obama has been expected to be the Moses of the whites who can drive Americans from hell to heaven. You were big only because you had the advantage and had nor contender but now your blind eyes is getting open and I am sure in the next 25-100 years you will have to re-examine your titles.

    Everyone knows that the economy of South Africa is in the hands of the whites who clearly don’t like Africa or the Africans nor matter how long you lived in Africa, how much the Africans welcome you or how much African wealth you accumulate. you don’t even want learn an African language. For you to say “you don't enjoy the stuff of colonialism whilst hating the colonisers” I wander if you ever thought for the same phrase and ask yourself and your people who still call themselves “Europeans in Africa”.

    You hate Africa and the Africans while you control our countries and wealth, you treat us like rubbish in Africa, you treat us like rubbish in Europe while we still treat you like kings and Queens but hopefully that will end soon. If the world cup is a WORLD CUP then why I should not have it? Africa is suffering because the eunuch UN, IMF and World Bank is only tools for colonisations, the only instructions is from the white sharks, the blood suckers and the empire itself.

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  • 12. At 6:59pm on 02 Jun 2010, Brenda07 wrote:

    11 Mze-djimba

    Rant away!

    To read your diatribe is to know that xenophobia is alive and well. With regard to your personal attack on me (and my ancestors): I am an ordinary middle class person with no accumulated wealth of any sort - I do not even own my own home - who does not hate Africa or blacks. I've had a young "disadvantaged" female live in my home, paid for her education at the same school my children attend and continued paying her mother even when she went to live and care for her mother in another city ie I did without for her benefit. Wise up, you are so off the mark and your opinions do not bode well for SA.

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  • 13. At 12:39pm on 03 Jun 2010, Mze-djimba wrote:

    @12brenda07: you must know that I like whites as human beings but that doesn’t stop me from telling you what I know about you, and for knowing what has been done to me it boost up my spirit as anyone who does not know where he came from won’t know where he is going.

    I know that people like you don’t like to be told the truth, and often after you been confronted with the reality you run from your culture and tradition of been evil. You then try to look all good and distant yourselves from what makes whites so unique on their behaviour.

    I am not going to try to be means or nasty here but you well knows that none would be happy to see her/his child been raised by someone else particularly someone like white South Africans helping black South Africans, a phrase which even the eloquent writers won’t be able to formulate such nonexistent slogan.

    For the last hundreds years, we saw what help you gave the Africans who worked in your houses, shops etc. you must know that the only reason the African failed to raise his/her own kids is not because he or she is lazy and does not want work or his land is poor. no, he does work and still working very hard over 12 hours a day and the land under his feet had 40% of the diamonds of the world and 25% of the gold of the world, but he get pay nothing by you or your cronies, he been forced to live & dream poor and forever be your maid, and his children to follow the white made destiny for the African.

    It’s a curse comes via YOUR man made corrupt bible claiming to be inheritance from the so-called fathers of the world (the Children of Noah in the book of Genesis) Hallelujah jesus.

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  • 14. At 12:57pm on 04 Jun 2010, Knutt wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 15. At 12:48pm on 07 Jun 2010, Englishman_in_Jozzi wrote:

    @ 6. At 11:18am on 01 Jun 2010, Calum McKay

    People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones...

    You seem to have forgotten that it was the neighbouring country to the north who ransacked one of our cities in the name of football.

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  • 16. At 1:34pm on 07 Jun 2010, Englishman_in_Jozzi wrote:

    @ 11. Mze-djimba

    If my history is correct, wasn't it a white Afrikaaner Government who secured the independence of South Africa from the United Kingdom?

    I agree with Brenda07, you really do need to take your rose tinted glasses off and look at things properly. No one can change the past but it sounds like if you had your way then South Africa will be a mixed bag of tribes living in little mud huts in villages connected by dirt tracks (complete with the potholes) waging war on the tribe next door like the good old days 500 years ago.

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  • 17. At 6:21pm on 07 Jun 2010, Mze-djimba wrote:

    @englishman16: How hilarious of the so-called Englishman embarrassing himself and the English school taught him the fault history. Your garbage comment tells us how misinformed you are and how corrupt a mind can be. Yes you are WRONG and the official freedom day of the Africans in the African country is on 27th April and our calendar starts in 1994.

    Africans would like to live with all other nations peacfully. We did it for so long time and still well prepare for it but the white atittude is to much. why you can't treat people as you would like to be treat?

    However, something interested you mention and I would like to emphasize. The wars of Europeans(Boer & English)in the African country is one of the bizarre things whites could do. Into my mind boera or English all are the same who came there to still.

    It’s just like two or three groups of gangsters who attacked a bank, house or person on the street and then they argue and fought each other on the point of who should own & control what. You ignorantly try to sing your fathers’s song, the lies they put on the Africans. In one of my comment I mentioned two places you can try to read about and try to see what kind of educations they had before your fathers knew where is the sun came from. I see like you are of those been corrupted and drugged by the name the Englishman, so one of the latest and best events I saw in the last few days is the show “THE SUN NEVER SETS” by Marwan Bishara. So enjoy it here (in case if the link has been remove you can watch the program on Aljazeera English/empire)

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  • 18. At 4:11pm on 28 Jan 2011, U14749465 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

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