It's almost funny how you type 'South Africa' in your google search bar, and 'Xenophobia' pops up right beside the words you typed (try it!)... like Xenophobia is now a suffix to South Africa.
It is almost funny...except it's not funny, because of the lives, property and aspirations that have been lost. Mulling over it in my busy mind, I just want to scream "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE??"
I had always fancied South Africa; I felt like they had the best of both worlds. The rich ancestry of the black Zulus, and the regal sophistication of the white Afrikaans.
I had always fancied South Africa...that is, before now. Before these senseless attacks and killings against foreign nationals. The 'magic' the country enamoured me with in the past has long fizzled out.
This is not to say that this is the first time these kind of attacks have occured, and foreign nationals in South Africa have had to drop everything and flee the country for ther lives, or go into hiding. I remember back in 2008 when an uncle of mine, who was running a successful restaurant there had suddenly returned home, with his whole family. Till date, he never speaks of the reason for his relocation, and it was rumoured that he had fled due to the spate of killings of Nigerians in South African then. The wave of killings and violence against foreign nationals in 2008 was regarded as that: a 'wave'.
However, what is going on can no longer be regarded as a wave..which will just 'disappear' after a while. Even though some blame the attacks on the rash statements of a traditional ruler (remember when I spoke of the danger in careless words by persons of authority?), the violence is something much deeper than a mere reaction to royalty's 'words of wisdom'.
What is going on in South Africa is being categorised as "Xenophobia". Xenophobia literally means the fear of that which is foreign; in this case, foreigners.
But as is with other 'phobia' humans develop, the people suffering from these phobias actually avoid the source of the phobia. For example, one who is claustrophobic would as much as possibe avoid getting into a 100 feet elevator. And a Necrophobic person would at all costs avoid anything dead. You do not see either one either burning buildings with elevators,or burning corpses. How then could this attack on prosperous foreign nationals by South Africans be related with 'fear'?
In any case, how could the South Africans have lived with the foreign nationals for quite a while, and suddenly 'realise' they are 'afraid' of them...especially the ones who appear to be prospering in their land?
I dare say that whatever is going on there is not as a result of 'fear'. Maybe the attacks are borne out of deep seated resentment cum jealousy. Perhaps, the South African people are still in pain over the apartheid they long endured, and this is some twisted way of easing their pain, by inflicting some other pain on their black siblings who never suffered the pain of apartheid.
I don't know if there's a word for that, but it's not Xenophobia. Their actions display no indication of fear or discomfort. Rather, it speaks volumes of misplaced aggression...misdirected anger..resentment.
The South African Government needs to rise above their blaming the media for 'painting the government in bad light'. Their government has serious work to do in enabling the rehabilitation of the minds of the black South Africans, and empowering them to be better qualified in exploiting the resources in their country, rather than blaming foreigners for their ill-fortune.
This is because after the people have suceeded in running out the foreign nationals, they would then turn on themselves, murdering one another senselessly, due to their dissatisfaction with their lot in life. I wonder then what cute 'phobia' would be created to excuse their savagery.
Disclaimer: The picture in this post was taken from the Google web page.