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Open Letter to Xenophobia,

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Dear Xenophobia,

A friend has compelled me to write to you for the sake of Ubuntu. Just like Mahatma Gandhi told Hitler, I also feel this letter from me would be an impertinence. Nonetheless, I will tell you about your dad, Apartheid. He doesn’t make public appearances any more because he heard this story.

 An anthropologist had been studying the social behavior of an African tribe, and when he finished his work, he had to wait for transportation that would take him to the airport to return home. He had always been surrounded by the children of the tribe, so to help pass time before he left, he proposed a game for the children to play.

He had bought lots of candy and sweets in the city, so he put everything in a basket with a beautiful ribbon attached. He placed it under a solitary tree, and then he called the kids together. He drew a line on the ground and explained that they should wait behind the line for his signal. And that when he said “Go!” they should rush over to the basket, and the first to arrive there would win all the candies.

 When he said “Go!” they all unexpectedly held each other’s hands and ran off towards the tree as a group. Once there, they simply shared the candy with each other and happily ate it. The anthropologist was very surprised. He asked them why they had all gone together, especially if the first one to arrive at the tree could have won everything in the basket – all the sweets.’

A young girl simply replied: “How can one of us be happy if all the others are sad?”

‘I am because we are!’ Apartheid couldn’t handle this. He couldn’t believe we chose love. Our compassion, kindness and empathy depressed him. Our cooperation chocked him. He faded into an icy numbness. You are a reincarnation of Apartheid. They call you Brexit in Britain. They refer to you as ‘controlled immigration’ in America. But we all know what you are; a looser! A frustrated demon.

We helped you sing your songs of freedom. We share the same mother. And yet, water is there in abundance and you fools are thirsty. Blood won’t solve your thirst. I’ll tell you why you are foolish. A third of foreign nationals in South Africa are employed in the informal sector as traders, domestic workers or car guards. They don’t own land, have access to the means of production and capital, or places in your higher education institutes. Often, they are just as desperate as you people attacking them.

 “They steal our jobs and our women” is just a misplaced frustration from your desperate minds and souls. Had Mandela wanted this, he wouldn’t have risked the 27 years in prison. If your hearts beat to Mariam Makeba and   Brenda Fassie songs, Lucky Dube would probably be alive now. His music would be teaching your brains how to flow and your soul to be peaceful.

For the rest of us, we choose fraternity over violence. We pray that the words of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika! find roots in your hearts. We will wait for the ringing from your blue heaven. Patiently gazing at your seas and mountains. That the sounds of unity and freedom shall echo within your borders.

With Much grief and Spite,

Mama Africa


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