POLITICS

DECONSTRUCTING XENOPHOBIA


South African Miners during a demonstration some time last year (courtesy rt.com)
South African Miners during a demonstration some time last year (courtesy rt.com)

Going by what has been happening in South Africa in most current times, many may be led to believe that xenophobia, popularly known as “the fear of foreigners”, is the root of all evils meted out by some South Africans against outsiders especially of African origin.

In fact most at the moment are feeling that xenophobia is a really deplorable attitude. Whether I agree or disagree is a matter left for you to determine in the analysis that follows.

I will begin by asking the following critical questions: At what point or when is xenophobia a despicable attitude? When it involves and African ‘hating on’/ intensely fearing another African? Or when it involves an African hating on another race? Or when it involves a person hating on another person from another country? Or when it involves a person hating on another person from another community, village, clan, family? Incidentally for no apparent reason or with a reason?

The answer is, whether one is xenophobic with or without a reason, that attitude in human terms is forgivable. But to follow through that fear or hate with violence, interestingly, is what is evil about xenophobia. But fearing alone is not.

Hence from the above example, there are, apparently, ‘good’ xenophobes and bad ones; ‘hard’ and soft ones; high(er) and low degree, and so on.

But a xenophobe is but a xenophobe and violence is not xenophobia. Eventually Xenophobia does not ’cause’ violence. Before I proceed to prove that claim,we need to deconstruct another term often used as an excuse to mistreat others. It is the term ‘foreigner’.

Who is a foreigner? A kenyan versus an unfamiliar Ugandan? A zimbawean Vs a South African? A person Vs another person they are not quite familiar with? Yet if that is true, are you therefore warranted to ‘attack’? No. But most, unfortunately, do that.

In clear terms, being foreign is not the issue. Mistreating a foreigner is. In addition, any reason for misbehaving towards foreigners is questionable.

Hence my refutation of violence in the name of xenophobia properly begins here: First we need to remember that xenophobia is but an active fear of foreigners in their various categories(as we have seen above), whether in low or high degree,

Consequently, I disassociate xenophobia with violence, with murder- evil, because to reason thus is downright fallacious:

“He/she is a foreigner. Therefore, I must hurt him or her.”

“He/she is a foreigner. Therefore I just don’t like him/her.”

Also, “I don’t like him/her because he/she is better than me” strictly does not follow.

Also, “I hate him just because I hate him” is extremely pathetic thinking.

However, to reason that “I hate him/her because they have offended me” is somewhat acceptable. But even then, where is self-control?

Eventually, why some South Africans are committing acts of aggression against those they consider foreigners, the conclusion reached from my analysis is, I know not what. We may recourse to theology next time since pure reason has failed us.

NEWS

ARE YOU A SILENT VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?


‘I thought he would change ‘…  That is was the first word from Naomi’s lips,  when she told me to write an elaborate piece of her story for publication. with a shrunken emotional side eyes I could trace the invisible pain from that expression,  I met Naomi in Kampala Uganda  I was on a friend house warming party,  I was working on different media blogging projects in Kampala through a friend’s connection to a certain magazine house,.
“why women stay with abusive partners”
… “Domestic violence is incredibly complex.  those who haven’t
experienced it first-hand always say,  ‘why didn’t you just leave?’  ” There’s no simple answer to that question. But in my case, my case my first husband made me believe that I couldn’t survive without him.
“I was 17 when I met Ezra.  He was 32 and a manager at the local radio station.  Getting attention from this grown-up,  Charismatic, successful man was flattering.  Within a year,  we were engaged.
” with hindsight,  I can see how he used his maturity to assert control over me. Because he was older, he knew best about everything.
“my parents didn’t approve of the age gap, but I was a headstrong teenager who wasn’t about to do.
” The physical violence didnt start right away. What I didn’t realize that I was being subjected to a subtle campaign of emotional abuse.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  It’s like a dripping tap,  wearing down your confidence and self worth until everything is stripped away and you’re incapable of standing on your own feet.
“Ezra was moody and bad tempered, and it was always my fault. I was constantly walking on eggshells and apologizing for my wrong doings even when I didn’t know they were.”

no way out
“One evening I told him I was thinking of getting a part time job.  Having finished school I wanted to do something worthwhile and earn my money.
“This did not go down well.  he said I was being selfish and shortsighted,  that I should be supporting him and his needs.  How was I do that if I was to take a petty job as an office messenger girl?
”  I was dragged pushed and slapped.  Any object to hand was thrown and smashed.  My instinct was to leave but I was cornered at the door.  ‘Leave this house,’ he said,  ‘and I’ll take a knife to the dog.’
” The day after the first attack,  I was meant to go wedding – dress shopping with my mum.  I fed her with an excuse and stayed at home.
” I didn’t have the excuse and stayed at home. “I didn’t have the strength to pull out of the perfect traditional wedding that was being organized for us from the buganda Kingdom.  I felt like it was too late to admit I’d made a mistake.
” we married in 1986 (omg I wasn’t born by then I made a joke haha)  she was 19. ” Like most victims,  I soldiered on, hoping life would get better.  But the abuse continued.  Pinches,  punches ands slaps.  A kick in the back or a bucket of water to get me out of bed.”
“He tore stripped off everything ~my intelligence, my efficiency as a wife, my appearance and even my ability in the bedroom.  He threatened to burn my livestock,  to reveal my father’s love life to the papers or ruin his business.  He callously picked on all that was precious to me.
“Our house bore the scars of violence – a cracked fireplace,  broken plaster,  ruined wallpaper.  He ruined countless ornaments, gifts and heirlooms.  I stopped having people over,  especially my family.  I didn’t want them asking questions I was too ashamed to answer.

“Ezra eventually allowed me to get a job at the radio station he was on management team. Now he was the boss at work and as well as at home. ” I don’t believe any of my colleagues had the first idea what was going on.  There were never any bruises that they could see, but putting on a brave face at work was physically and mentally exhausting.
” It was living two lives – one under a big black cloud no one else could see.  The happy, strong-willed,  confident young woman I once was had slowly been destroyed.  I felt incredibly alone.
” I was cut off from my parents and sister.  They sensed I was unhappy but had no idea about the abuse.
” I walked out of him once,  but it only took one phone call to coax me back. ‘ I’m sorry’,  he said.  ‘I need you’,
“Victims go back because women want to see their abuser’s good side and make it work.  We want to believe them when they say,  I shouldn’t have done that.  I love you and I want to make this right. ‘we cling to the hope that they will change,  that we haven’t made a mistake sticking by them that one day we we’ll be happy.  But there is rarely a happy ending.
“In the end,  after five years together,  Ezra left me.  I was devastated and,  despite everything, I was the one begging him to stay –  an example of the hold he had over me.”

.…. A NEW LIFE
“BUT despite having an overwhelming fear of being alone, I didn’t fall to pieces. I found a fantastic lawyer to assist with the divorce.  He me write down everything,  which enabled me to confront what I’d been through.
“To finally open up was immense relief. I no longer had to carry this shameful secret around with me. My family and friends came back into my life and my confidence soon followed. My life started the day Ezra left.

” a lot of women who have suffered domestic violence will tell you that the mental and emotional abuse is far more damaging and difficult to recover from. I believe that after five years with Ezra, it took me another 8 years to recover.

” It wasn’t until I met my wonderful husband Jim in 1997 that I really got over the anger and the desire for revenge. We have three kids Zara nine, Zach six and zuri three.
Now I am a mum,  I can only imagine what I put my worried parents through.
” I was so deep that I couldn’t admit I’d married a monster.  You don’t have to put your hands up and say your marriage was a mistake.
I don’t enjoy reliving this part of my life. But if by talking about it I can give one woman hope or the strength to pick up the phone and get help, then it’s worth it “.

Naomi is working with a publisher friend of mine now in Kampala Uganda.

By: Paul Masidza, (http://alasiri2013.wordpress.com) Bungoma.