Reflections on Africa Month 2022
Between 11 and 25th May 2008, South Africa, a country with a long history of "othering" within its society, experienced the horrors of xenophobic violence. From Alexandra township in Gauteng across the country to Langa in Cape Town, close to 62 people were killed, including 21 South Africans, 11 Mozambiquans, 5 Zimbabweans and 3 Somalis; thousands were injured. According to Human Rights Watch, some 40 0000 people living and working in South Africa left the country while a further 50 000 remained internally displaced. Although authorities arrested over 1 000 people after the violence, few convictions resulted in a climate of impunity for those responsible. In the 14 years since that fateful 11 May, journalist Ufrieda Ho argues South Africa's timeline of xenophobia shows a damning lack of inaction to stop attacks, hold perpetrators to account, and implement measures to address the root causes of xenophobia. The rise of Operation Dudula, All Trucker Foundation and the South Africa First Party have taken what was once relegated to the margins of South African politics, anti-immigrant xenophobic activism and made it mainstream. This Africa month, we reflect on the South African democratic project's pervasive culture of xenophobic violence, poverty and inequality. Against this backdrop, the country remains a popular migration destination on the continent. This collection of articles reminds us of the continued project for human rights, social justice and cohesion and the call to heal the violence always with us.
South Africa's timeline of xenophobia shows a damning lack of inaction to stop attacks, hold perpetrators to account, and implement measures to address the root causes of xenophobia.