- Xenophobic societies regard ‘outsiders’ as intrusive enemies, thieves robbing the indigenous populations of their growth opportunities and rightful future
- In 1939, about 8.3 million Jews were obliged to register with all local authorities in Germany and other Nazi occupied territories.
- Initially, Heinrich Himmler , had ordered that the Jews should be captured and murdered by firing squad.
Xenophobia is a sad indicator for a morally bankrupt, violent and ignorant society. Xenophobic societies regard ‘outsiders’ as intrusive enemies, thieves robbing the indigenous populations of their growth opportunities and rightful future.
Violent xenophobic outbursts are not spontaneous in any society. They are often designed, triggered and directed by key manipulative leaders who harvest votes and political mileage from the murder and the suffering of a group.
In 1939, about 8.3 million Jews were obliged to register with all local authorities in Germany and other Nazi occupied territories. Every Jew had to fill in hundreds of details in some 40 pages or so. The details included everything about their lives, domicile, health, relatives and wealth (properties, bonds, jewellery…everything).
The propaganda against the Jews was planned and carefully implemented:
Not many people realised that this was the preamble of the systematic murder of all Jews ordered by Hitler in German controlled lands. Jews (men, women and children) were arrested and transported to heavily guarded camps. They were told they would go into the East and help build Germany.
The Dutch bishops realised they could not step aside and watch. They wrote an anti-Nazi pastoral letter, which was read in all parishes after Sunday Mass, on 26 July 1942. In retaliation for this meddling of the bishops, all Christians of Jewish ancestry were also arrested, and most of them gassed with the rest in Auschwitz.
Initially, Heinrich Himmler (head of the SS), had ordered that the Jews should be captured and murdered by firing squad. Apparently, Himmler himself supervised such massacre. But killing is tough, and he felt so sick that from then on the killing became more sophisticated. They used a poisonous gas, Zyklon B, and cremated or buried the corpses in mass graves.
Rename the sin and keep on sinning:
In today’s world, we still rename evil to make it palatable and fashionable. Just like happened in Germany under Hitler, xenophobia in pre-1994 South Africa was also dressed up in a legal suit and renamed ‘Apartheid’. It sounded better, like an acceptable governance policy; it quietened consciences. Although the goal was not extermination, it aimed at self-destructive forced segregation.
Apartheid bankrupted South Africa’s moral fibre. Africans were robbed of education, opportunities and even hope. Apartheid inculcated a sense of inferiority and superiority through categorisation, and this still remains.
Twenty-five years later, South Africans are full of unmet expectations which were promised and legislated: basic services, commodities, housing, education and employment. They feel entitled but have nothing and their low levels of tolerance spark violently at the smallest provocation. They are the product of big expectations, poor governance and deep frustrations.
Their only survival tactic was violence, and this is what they are sadly inflicting now on their fellow Africans. We are watching South Africa’s self-destruction, and their political leaders’ response has been heartbreakingly lukewarm and populist.
The Buyelekhaya campaign:
Patrick Muthunzi is Kenyan by birth and South African by fate. He has been a successful CEO of prominent South African multinationals. He first went to South Africa in 1994, where he married and spent more than 24 years.
Pat says that the hatred for brother Africans was triggered long before 1994, when the mining companies decided to hire migrant workers from the SADC region as opposed to organised and unionised local labour. South Africans felt left out and this brought about a deep resentment.
David Matsinhe recounts in “Apartheid Vertigo: The Rise in Discrimination Against Africans in South Africa”, that in December 1994 and January 1995, the residents of Alexandra Township in Johannesburg decided to clean Makwerekwere (derogatory term used by Black South Africans to describe non-South African blacks) off their streets.
The local leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) encouraged and oversaw this clean up. The campaign was called Buyelekhaya (go back home) and it was criticised by a Human Rights Watch report in 1998.
The ANC and SACP self-appointed vigilantes blamed foreigners for crime, unemployment and rape. Today, foreigners are also blamed for the outburst of cheap and lethal drugs plaguing every other township home. The most common and lethal one is Nyaope (also called whoonga), made from a cocktail of “rat poison, heroin and antiretrovirals”.