On the behalf of the Africa week celebration, the African Diaspora Forum (ADF) commemorates the tenth anniversary of the xenophobic in Johannesburg.
Friday, May 18, 2018, at Yeoville Recreation Center, the participants under the leadership of the ADF Chairperson, Comrade Marc Gbaffou, attended a colourful commemoration the xenophobic attacks, to remembered those who paid with their lives, the rise of xenophobic violence in South Africa, some years back.
The commemoration, which is part of the week-long 2018 Africa Week Festival, took place at the Yeoville Recreation Center in Johannesburg, and comes a decade after arguably the worst ever episode of xenophobia to hit South Africa – the May 2008 violence, which claimed at least 62 lives, displaced thousands others and saw property worth millions of Rands being destroyed.
According to the ADF Chairperson, Marc Gbaffou, ‘’Despite concerted efforts by government and various stakeholders to try and curb the scourge, it is unfortunate that xenophobia has continued to rage on in South Africa, putting migrants’ lives, businesses and livelihoods at perpetual risk’’.
As per its 10-year tradition, the commemoration will once again include a multi-faith prayer and candle-lighting session in which various faith leaders, notably Christians, Muslims and African traditional healers appealed to their god in their respective methods, pleading with them to accept departed souls and give them rest, as some departed in gruesome manners. They also pleaded for an end to the African-on-African attacks and killings.
The candle lighting is meant to plead for those departed souls to rest in peace, while also praying for an end to xenophobia. Hundreds of people attended the candle lighting, including political leaders, pan-African leaders from various countries, Diaspora community leaders, inter-faith ministers and government authorities.
This year’s commemoration is significant in that it comes just three years after the outbreak of yet another episode of anti-foreigner violence that killed at least six people in KwaZulu-Natal Province, and in the midst of widespread fears that similar attacks could be imminent in the KwaZulu-Natal Province, where foreign businesses have been ordered to close shop, pack and go or face a backlash from a local business organisation.
The ADF will also use the commemoration to roll out its full Africa Week programme – meant to foster the spirit of national healing and co-existence, especially at the back of an Amnesty International statement titled “South Africa: Ten years after xenophobic killings, refugees and migrants still living in fear”, which underlines the state of uncertainty, daily discrimination and constant fear of physical attacks hounding African migrants in South Africa.
Since 2008 there have been numerous outbreaks of violence against refugees and migrants in South Africa, yet if we had lived by the ideals of Africa’s founding fathers, xenophobia would have been a thing of the past. We would not be speaking about it now – more than 50 years after the formation of the African Union.
It is unfortunate that although its constitution says that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, migrants continue to be killed like beasts in this country, yet nothing is being done on the criminals who perform these dastardly acts.
By Serge Babylas de Souza