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Why Xenophobic Society can never Grow

Updated on April 18, 2015

For the past one week, the international news from South Africa has been shocking. They have been packaged in tones that reflect the tribulations of the foreigners who have been attacked. Since the international media has to adhere with professional ethics and laws of journalism, graphic images are never shown to the readers.

A day after, your eyes meet the images of individuals being lynched by mobs, crying and begging for mercy as the tongues of flame engulf them. To make the matter even worse, Africans are committing all these heinous acts against fellow Africans. Just because they feel intimidated by the efforts made by the foreigners 'to make a living' in South Africa.

Xenophobia is the word used to describe this. A state where individuals fear foreigners or strangers and avoid or avert their culture and politics at whatever cost. For South Africa, it is not the first time that xenophobic attacks have witnessed.

Daily Maverick reports that in in 2013, close to 200 people had been killed in incidents related to such attacks. In fact, Consortium for Refugees and Immigrants in South Africa revealed in a study conducted in the same year that one foreigner was killed per day under attacks of xenophobia, and 100 were being injured daily. In 2015, there are several allegations regarding the circumstances of the genesis of South African xenophobic attacks and murders.

The Zulus have been linked to be the majority of the people killing and attacking foreigners in Durban and Johannesburg cities. On the flip side, there are more that meet the eye concerning this violence. In societies, people have many desires. And when their desires supersede their efficacy, they get frustrated and their anger definitely boil out. They become overly jealous and pin blames on everyone and every situation. Xenophobia has been used to describe this situation. However, what remains mysterious to us are the main causes of xenophobia.

There are circumstances that have been tied to Xenophobia; and the South African incident is one of them, if the alleged alibis given by the perpetrators are worth believing. What can make somebody to hate a foreign national to the extent of lynching him or her like any other criminal? What really motivate people to act out of xenophobia?

Frustrations in life

Life can be very frustrating to most people. Due to the biting economic conditions, some people resort to harassing foreign nationals with a mindset that that person has occupied his or her "job". In South Africa, unemployment rate arguably stands at 25%. This is a justification that there lives a society that has to face the reality of the economic weight. That is how they resort to barbaric acts of killing and injuring foreigners on the name of protecting 'their jobs and women'.

Government Policies and Impunity

An article published by The Socialist Party in Great Britain on the causes of xenophobia reveals that some governments have weaker policies that fail to 'protect' local people. In consequence, the poor local people have to stage a competition with some of the elite foreigners. The latter inevitably outsmart them. In countries where impunity thrive, criminals are motivated to commit such acts knowing that no much serious action will be taken. As a result of this, Ghana has tailored policies to limit employment of foreign expatriates. Ivory Coast is one of the countries that have been hit by xenophobia.

However, there is a question that needs not only to be answered South Africans but y anybody. What are the consequences of having xenophobic society?

Hampered foreign relations

Obviously, when citizens from one country leave for another, their parent countries expect them to be secure. They are expected to enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms enjoyed by the natives. So, if violence breaks out and a country has registered high number of death rates. It makes it possible that it can through concerned countries in diplomatic row.

Foreign Investors Shying away

In cases of xenophobia, foreigners are the most or the only targeted group. Nobody would invest in countries way locals are not comfortable. If a country has xenophobic attack of South African modicum, investors may not consider such countries as viable grounds. There are more detriments that xenophobia can bring that most governments like South African can least think.

Xenophobia report, courtesy of BBC


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