Blythe said Dudula is a dangerous movement as it singles out foreigners as a problem that needs to be removed from society.
“These are stereotypes about foreigners. They lead to violence because what we know is that words have power. When you speak like they are not human beings, it’s dangerous. It’s not all talk, people are targeted because of their identity,” she said.
“That Afro phobia is becoming an epidemic here. So we would like people to think critically about what they’re being told about foreigners because even if every foreigner in Africa had a job, we would still have a huge unemployment crisis.”
However, Operation Dudula has always maintained it is a non-violent movement.
Blythe added that they are in constant contact with foreigner and refugee groups in the country.
She said they have heard stories of the hate and threats of violence foreigners are confronted with on a daily basis, sometimes to such an extent that they can’t speak on a taxi because they are afraid of being identified as foreigners.
“Their stories are very powerful and we want to shed light on them.”
She said the importance of speaking out on these issues is heightened by the silence of leaders entrusted with powers to do something about these issues.
“All it is really is raising awareness of what can happen when prejudice and hate speech are left unchecked and leaders are quiet. That implies that you agree. What we are seeing now is silence from our leaders about these issues of xenophobia and that silence is very loud.”
Blythe said she was hopeful the workshops would be more than just a history curriculum but something pupils would be able to take home with them and make them critical thinkers.
“We hope that through the workshops they can understand how it’s possible for violence and genocide to happen. How all of these histories begin with something so small which is just the way you think about other human beings, as well as be able to challenge their own prejudices.”
Houston said the museum sought to be “the custodian of memory” on the Holocaust and other genocides.
“We also want to reflect on these memories because if we don’t reflect and learn then these memories disappear and die out,” he said.
“Our hope is that as much as you learn something and honour the memory, you also take something home that you can apply in your own life.”