We need to understand black-on-black violence to uproot it

SINGAMA kwerekwere sonke (we are all foreigners), cries an anti-afrophobia leaflet issued by the September National Imbizo.

This move tries to end the distance between South Africans and their black brothers and sisters from the African continent who are the victims of black-on-black violence the media incorrectly calls xenophobia.

We are certainly not a xenophobic country, because we don't hate and hurt all foreigners. Only black people from the African continent are targeted.

Whites are tourists and investors. There are no white kwerekweres.

The 2008 afrophobia attacks left 62 black people dead, thousands fled the country and a lot of properties destroyed. What is often forgotten is that 22 of those killed were black South Africans.


Black South Africans need to know that we are part of Africa, that the borders were created by colonialists who came to plunder our continent and to oppress us all.

The threats of afrophobia after the World Cup are so huge that black Africans from outside South Africa are already victimised.

The psychological violence through the threats is as harmful as the actual attacks. We must applaud South Africans who are doing their best to end afrophobia. One of the unsung heroes and symbols of unity is the late Sipho Madondo from Alexandra.

When the 2008 violence broke out he chose to defend black Africans and he was killed for his stance.

Afrophobia must be condemned and combated.

But we need to understand it in order to uproot it completely.

How do we understand a people that say "we are behind Ghana" and then turn around and say "they must go after the Cup".

A person who is trapped in poverty and marginalisation is already a violent person. Black Consciousness Movement co-founder Steve Biko saw the black-on-black violence as a creation of "absolute want, in which black will kill black to be able to survive".

This is the basis of vandalism, murder, rape and plunder that goes on.

Afrophobia in South Africa is an outcome of the failure to address the pressing needs of the people.

People who are treated like animals soon behave as animals.

Homelessness, hunger, joblessness combined with inflation lead to violence. Without hope people explode, but because of psychological damage they vent their anger at the most vulnerable among them - women, children and so- called foreigners.

The way the government has been treating black Africans has shaped and triggered afrophobia.

The allegations of corrupt allocation of RDP houses, the harassment by the police and neglect by Home Affairs send a message to communities that black Africans are not protected and are objects of hate.

What does it mean when people are arrested not because they have committed a crime but because they are black and have no papers that say they can be here?

This situation condones the afrophobic violence. It says black is illegal.

To end afrophobia we must address both the material and psychological wants of our people. We are all kwerekweres.