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Entries in xenophobia (3)


South Africa, we are a racist, violent, and forgetful people. Let us repent.

Achille Mbembe delivered a deeply challenging Ruth First memorial lecture a few days ago. In the lecture he discusses South Africa, South Africans, and our treatment of African sisters and brothers from elsewhere on our common continent.

I was recently at a conference where a group of African colleagues addressed South Africans. The gist of their reprimand was that we have become a racist, Afro-phobic, Afro-pessimistic, violent, nationalist, unkind and forgetful people.

I am ashamed... I am ashamed because I fear that it may be true! 

Here are a few quotes from the attached article. It is well worth the 5 minutes it will take to read. Read, reflect, repent, and then let us:

  • Witness to the truth
  • Live the alternative
  • Bind up the broken
  • Replace evil with good


‘To the age of white racism has therefore succeeded the age of black on black racism. As Frantz Fanon foresaw not so long ago, South African forms of black nationalism are morphing into virulent forms of black-on-black racism. An ethno-racial project, this new form of black nationalism seeks to secede from Africa and its diasporas. It has forged for itself two enemies, an enemy it fears and envies (whiteness or white monopoly capital) and another it loathes and despises (Blacks from elsewhere). In a miraculous turn of events, it believes that xenophobia will create jobs, bring down crime and turn South Africa into an Eden on Earth. It has internalised white racism and has weaponised it against black non-citizens through the vicious use of State apparatuses.’


‘...former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo recalls Nigeria’s contribution “to the struggle against colonialism in southern Africa and apartheid in South Africa”. It was, he says, “our obligatory duty to do so as Africans”. “We, as black people, believed and still believe that we would be second-class citizens in the world if we allowed any black people anywhere in the world, not to talk of Africa, to be treated as second-class citizens because of the colour of their skin”...’


‘South Africa will squander everything if, instead of consciously and dutifully fulfilling its obligation to humanity, it chooses to put its faith in the sheer and always precarious politics of power. For power to mean anything at all and for it to endure, it has to rest on firm moral foundations.’


Here is a link to the article that contains Mbembe's lecture:


#EnoughIsEnough Gender Based Violence, Xenophobia and South African Christians

This week has been an extremely painful week in South Africa. The scourge of femicide, rape, and the physical and emotional abuse of women and girls, as well as rising xenophobic and Afro-phobic attacks on fellow African migrants, have been deeply disturbing.

Many friends have expressed a sense of helplessness - what can Christians and Churches do? What should we do to witness justice, love and change in these situations?

Here is a short video that offers some suggestions that every Christian, and every Church, can do. Please feel free to offer your own ideas, suggestions, and feedback. We need one another! Please share the video with anyone who may find it useful.

As always, thanks so much for watching! I would be grateful if you subscribed so that you can be notified of new videos and lectures.

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#VLOG #Stellenbosch #Theology #EnoughisEnough #ThursdaysInBlack#GBV #Xenophobia #PublicTheology


Community and Xenophobia

The savagery of the last few weeks of xenophobic attacks across the country have reminded me of some the darkest and most painful parts of our national history. I thought back to the violence of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when IFP and ANC supporters butchered one another in KZN and Gauteng. Indeed, these are shameful parts of our national history.

Surely, the events of these past weeks will also be remembered with shame. The attacks on foreign nationals, the withdrawal of hospitality and the destruction of property has shown that South Africa still has some dark and destructive tendencies that need to be engaged and transformed.

In his Business Day Column for today (22 April 2015), Professor Steven Friedman reminded us painfully that in large measure our own response to xenophobia has been the same as those who attack foreigners – we have shifted the blame. We blame others for our falings and in so doing we distance ourselves, we objectify them and exonerate ourselves from any culpability and blame.

Let’s face the truth – we are not good neighbours. I am not talking about ‘them’, I am talking about ‘us’. We have not been welcoming to the strangers in our midst. We have not protected our guests who have sought political or economic refuge within our borders. Sadly, we have to confess that we are not a ‘just’ nation – in face we allow justice to be twisted and manipulated in our presence, and we don’t act. We are a nation that abuses the weak and the powerless. We are that nation. Let’s face it.

I came across this powerful quote from John Howard Yoder that challenges me deeply on this issue:

The political novelty that God brings into the world is a community of those who serve instead of ruling, who suffer instead of inflicting suffering, whose fellowship crosses social lines instead of reinforcing them. The new Christian community in which the walls are broken down not by human idealism or democratic legalism but by the work of Christ is not only a vehicle of the gospel or only a fruit of the gospel; it is the good news. It is not merely the agent of mission or the constituency of a mission agency. This is mission.

- John Howard Yoder, Royal Priesthood, p.91

So I am challenged to repent. This is my nation, both the stranger and the citizen. I am part of this brutal people, and I want it to be different. I want South Africa to be a place of welcome and safety. I want people to feel 'good news' here. And so I say, "not in my name".

I would like to invite you to participate in a conversation on xenophobia in South Africa to be hosted at the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University. Friday 8 May 12.30-14.00.