Xenophobia & Racism: The Black Man’s Scourge

‘To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others’.
                          -Nelson Mandela

Mayday! Mayday! Another brother down! I repeat, another comrade has fallen! He got 8 ‘warning’ shots in the back for a broken taillight. Using a sledgehammer for a fly analogy doesn’t even come close by a million mile. That’s not even the crux. Dude was framed for a crime he didn’t commit- lying lifeless on the ground, he was handcuffed to the back and a taser dropped by his side. Name is Walter Scott. He joined a long list of race-inspired murders in the US. A list that contained Emmet Till (a 14 year old African-American brutally murdered for conversing with a white lady), Trayvoy Martins, Eric Garner (murdered by a cop in a choke hold) & Mike Brown, amongst other unknown persons.

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The US prides itself as being the free world. I don’t think residents of Ferguson agrees with that though. Here’s a town with a black majority population being policed by a white majority police force. I recall watching Faultlines on AlJazeerah last December, in the heat of the #BlackLivesMatter protests in Ferguson. The experience of the African-Americans there left me wondering if indeed the US was an equal society.
Racism didn’t start last night though. It was preceded by the slavery of Africans in Europe & America. During my visit to the Slave Museum in Marina Resort, Calabar, my horizon was broadened as to the events of that era. The life of Africans was worth a dane gun. Literally. Africans were dehumanized. Even after slavery was abolished, the black man still faced oppression. The Ku Klux Klan made sure of that.

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Your eyes ain't deceiving you.

Freedom fighters emerged. While the civil rights movement, ‘led‘ by Martin Luther King, jnr focused on integrating the black man into the American society, people like Malcolm X emphasised on Pan Africanism & the need for people of African descent to return home. Decades after the demise of MLK II & Malcolm X, their ideas ain’t where they would have wanted it to be.
Pan Africanism, promoted by legends like Patrice Lumumba and Malcolm X, which emphasises the need for unity amongst Africans worldwide is currently been made a mess of in South Africa. The first time I heard the term, xenophobia was a few years ago when South Africans were maiming non-indigenes. Fast forward to 2015, the scourge has reared its ugly head again. Citizens of African countries are being attacked and killed. This time though, it was due to the speech of the Zulu king urging foreigners to return to their countries. That was the required push for an already sensitive situation. The attacks started in Durban before spreading to Johannesburg. Gory images took over the internet. The reason being that foreigners have taken over all the available jobs.
In a continent already plagued with poverty, illiteracy, wars & other vices, adding xenophobia would thicken the already unpalatable recipe more. Outside, some people see Africa as a country; thus, they’ll be surprised at the persecution ‘countrymen’ are facing from their fellows.
True to Pan-African values, African countries stood with South Africa during their struggle for independence from apartheid. Millions of dollars went into this struggle. Africa wasn’t free if South Africans were still under bondage. Africa was a body system- an discomfort to a part is felt by other parts. Now, the benefactors have become the enemies. The irony of this situation is that during the apartheid period, foreigners were persecuting indigenous South Africans. But the indigenous South Africans are now the one maiming foreigners. Not just any foreigners, but fellow Africans. Something about becoming the monster we tamed? It’s either these South Africans are bad students of history or plain ungrateful.

Is the black race cursed? Abroad we’re not at rest. At home, we’re not at peace with one another. While other races are advancing, we’re still battling with all these vices.

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Hakeem.

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