South African media are awash with what can only be defined as chilling reports of a looming bloodbath in that country.
For purposes of illustration, we will make reference to a report carried by The Mercury this week.
“Foreign truck drivers have been given an ultimatum to vacate their jobs at the beginning of December or face mass disruptions.
“This ultimatum was issued by the All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF), a group of local truck drivers advocating for 100 percent employment of local truck drivers. More than 500 members of the ATDF (Wednesday) joined forces with members of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), homeless people, hostel dwellers and unemployed graduates to march to the Durban Harbour to protest against the continued employment of foreigners in the freight industry.
“… They demanded that South African trucks not be driven by foreign nationals. ‘The foreign registration trucks must be driven by foreign truck drivers, as happens in other countries such as Namibia. This must be implemented as from December 1. Enough is enough’.
“… The march comes after more than 30 trucks had been torched in provinces across the country as of Thursday last week. ATDF general secretary Sifiso Nyathi vowed that if the companies failed to meet their demands by the date given, they would ensure that they got no income.”
The Mercury also quoted MKMVA’s Zibuse Cele saying “foreign nationals (are) stealing jobs”.
These same veterans of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid shut down several businesses a couple of weeks ago because they said these shops were owned by foreigners.
Before we get into the idiocy of this ATDF fellow called Sifiso Nyathi, we cannot let Umkhonto we Sizwe, of all organisations, to get away with this kind of nonsense.
How quickly Umkhonto we Sizwe has dispensed with the need for the support of “foreigners” since the days of apartheid!
Not too long ago, Umkhonto we Sizwe was reliant on the assistance and goodwill of “foreigners” in what became a continental struggle against apartheid. Now that apartheid has officially ended, “foreigners” are deserving of mob justice.
In a normal world, South Africa should be ashamed. But it is not a normal world.
This is a world in which people like Sifiso Nyathi of the ATDF are allowed to instigate violence against “foreigners” as an economic strategy.
The madness is not confined to geniuses like Sifiso Nyathi and Zibuse Cele. It is manifest across the African continent.
Modern Africa is a world in which a white man in a canoe on the Chobe River is a tourist. On the other hand, a black African in a canoe on the Chobe is a poacher – a foreign one at that. And he must be shot on the spot!
Our Africa is one in which a white man working in South Africa is an expatriate. A black man working in South Africa is a foreigner who is stealing jobs. And he must be burnt alive!
In the north of this beautiful continent, Africans are routinely and institutionally treated as slaves by fellow Africans of Arab heritage.
We really must ask: If we treat each other so badly, why should we expect people from other continents to treat us any better? If we apply such socially juvenile and ahistorical logic as we are getting from Sifiso Nyathi and Zibuse Cele, why should we think that the rest of the world will treat Africans as equals in the global village?
All across Africa, Africans are calling fellow Africans “foreigners”. They do not even pause to consider the fact that the borders that they cherish so much as their own were shoved down their throats by Europe at the Berlin Conference.
Not one of these African Einsteins who think they can solve our continent’s economic problems with violence and xenophobia had a say in the creation of these boundaries that they are so zealously defending today.
Surely, why are we killing each other on the basis of borders that we did not draw, did not want and cannot even properly define even up to today nearly 150 years after the Berlin Conference?
It would be useful to recall the words of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere on March 6, 1997 in Accra, Ghana, which we have quoted here before and will continue doing so for as long as Africans cannot understand the concept of continental unity. Nyerere was speaking on the issue of African unity on the fitting occasion of the Golden Jubilee of Ghanaian independence.
Nyerere said, “I reject the glorification of the nation-state we inherited from colonialism, and the artificial nations we are trying to forge from that inheritance. We are all Africans trying very hard to be Ghanaians or Tanzanians.
“Fortunately for Africa, we have not been completely successful. The outside world hardly recognises our Ghanaian-ness or Tanzanian-ness. What the outside world recognises about us is our African-ness…
“When I travel outside Africa, the description of me as a Former President of Tanzania is a fleeting affair. It does not stick. Apart from the ignorant who sometimes asked me whether Tanzania was in Johannesburg, even to those who knew better, what stuck in the minds of my hosts was the fact of my African-ness.”
The likes of Sifiso Nyathi and Zibuse Cele need to know that no matter how much they try and think of themselves as South Africans outside of Africa, they are doomed to keep pulling themselves – and the whole continent – down.
No South African, no Motswana, no Namibian, no Zimbabwean can define him or herself outside of their African-ness.
In short, an African is not a foreigner in Africa.