The recent tragic shooting that took place at the Charleston Church in South Carolina, USA, made me reflect on a tragic incident that took place in my own country. I looked at this white boy that had taken the lives of those nine innocent black people and thought: Black South Africans that support attacks on black immigrants are no different from this gunman.
The two incidents are not related, but I felt it necessary to take you through the short thought process that led to me writing this piece.
“Xenophobic” attacks in South Africa
The public refers to them as xenophobic attacks; a rather inaccurate description for a crisis in which only people of colour are attacked, if you ask me. When these brutal attacks take place, we do not simply witness the violation of foreigners, but a violation of a specific race- the black race. The more we refer to them as simply XENOPHOBIC attacks , the more we dim the light on the central issue; that being the fact that even in the eyes of some black individuals,it is not good enough to be non-Caucasian.
It is easier to say you are attacking somebody because they are from another country and robbing you of opportunities, than to say you think little of your own race; thus admitting that you think little of yourself. The former is a more comfortable robe to wear. It seems the ideologies of apartheid are so deeply ingrained in our minds, that we are slowly but surely re-creating an even more twisted system of apartheid in which WE, the black race, commit crimes against our own WITHOUT the influence or leadership of a white supremacy. I can almost see the ghosts of Hendrik Verwoerd and Daniel Francois Malan patting our backs.
One of the strongest weapons that our forefathers had to fight against white supremacy was the willingness to stand together. If we are now the ones feeding the ground with the ashes and blood of our own kind, picking up from where the likes of Verwoerd and Malan left off; who on earth will we stand with?
As South Africa continues to ponder on possible solutions, my two cent suggestion is for us to re-look the terminology and call these attacks for what they really are: Black on Black violence. That way we can skip the irrelevant question of why the perpetrators hate foreigners, and ask the questions that matter: Why do you hate your own? Why do you hate yourself?
Maybe, just maybe, that will make room for a more through reflection on the part of the perpetrators, just maybe.
The darkness that surrounds us cannot hurt us. It is the darkness in your own heart you should fear.
Image externally sourced Contact BusiDh