POLITICS: Rationalising Xenophobia In South Africa

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By Efio-Ita Nyok |22 April 2015 |7:00am

Xenophobia has been defined simply as the fear or hatred of strangers and foreigners or anything strange and foreign.

There is the natural tendency for any or every human to be afraid/hate another fellow human insofar as it is not our self. There is a natural aversion against the opposite other. That is to say we operate a primarily individualistic ethic as humans.

When the unit insist on its exclusive unitary existence, we can conveniently affirm xenophobia. Xenophobia therefore becomes the inability to manage the inclination to exclusive/absolute unitary existence.

We have a collective unit; and a non-collective unit. A collective unit is an aggregate of other units. A non-collective unit is made up of only an individual unit. South Africa is a collective unit.

Therefore, tribalism, ethnicity, professionalism, religious denominationalism, gender inequality, individualism, racism, partisan politics, regionalism, superiority, elitism and the like are, from a perspective, xenophobic.

South Africans are no different considering their history of apartheid. That is to say, I am positing that the wave of xenophobic attacks coursing through SA can be explained to be a psychological reaction to the history and degree of the apartheid in their country. If we remember, SA only became a democracy just recently in 1994, barely two decades ago.

A report by the Human Sciences Research Council identified four broad causes for the
violence –
*Relative Deprivation: specifically intense competition for jobs, commodities and housing;
*Group Processes: including psychological categorisation processes that are nationalistic
rather than superordinate;
*South African Exceptionalism: or a feeling of superiority in relation to other Africans; and
*Exclusive Citizenship: or a form of nationalism that excludes others.

In other words, the basic manifestations of xenophobia in SA are economic and political. Report has it that 24% of SA subscribe to a complete ban on immigration. While 64% are inclined to stringent immigration policies on immigrants.

In one and every causes per se of the violence, one find the insistence on an exclusive/absolute unitary existence. But, no unit can exist on itself despite its degree of sufficiency. And in Africa there is no self-made individual. We do not uphold individualism but communalism in Africa. But South Africans have allowed their individualistic consciousness to override their racial heritage of communalism. Consequently, there is need for SA to go back to their African roots. There is need for a cultural regeneration.

When a unit stands, another unit must stans by it. We affirm each other towards actualising our ambitions. If South Africans can remember, during the apartheid regime they enjoyed the assistance of other political units like Nigeria, etc. They couldn't overcome the apartheid by themselves. This reinforces the argument that no unit can exist exclusively of the other except God. Or, do South Africans intend to play God!?

The solution to reversing the trend of xenophobia in SA is basically education and legislation. By education I mean to refer to the intellectual and cultural reorientation towards communalism -Such communalism that objectify the individual. And by legislation I mean to refer to the disposition of the law to punish citizens who violate anti-xenophobic constitutional provisions.

In conclusion, a purely individualistic/unitary existence is anti the said individual or unit. Xenophobia in SA is anti the economic-cum-political wellbeing of South Africa.