Fear and Loathing Has No Place Here

This morning, on my way to work, it was radio time again. As to be expected, the focus was on the recent, fresh spate of xenophobia in the north and especially Durban. Apparently there was a whole debate about it in parliament yesterday and even ole showerhead himself had a few words to say. Which I have already forgotten. But more memorable was the contribution made by that stalwart of our political fabric, Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

In a nutshell, he said that when he looked at the perpetrators of this violence (all hate is violence, right?) against foreigners, all he could feel was shame. Considering everything he’s been through and has seen and fought for, the man makes a point.

Problem is, too few South Africans feel shame about this. We watch these horrific events unfold on Facebook and twitter and youtube and even the news channels. And we feel no shame. Disgust, anger, self-righteousness, but shame? No way, José (who is also a foreigner, but he brought us tequila, so he’s OK, right?).

I don’t know. All I know is, there are too many people standing around a braai/bar counter/boutique bitching about things and too few people thinking and communicating and actually caring enough to step out of that comfort zone of race to actually think of something to do. And you know what? If I sit my butt down, and go and think about it and ask myself this question, surely it’s not that difficult. All it takes is one step towards someone. To get close enough that you can have a conversation. Not solve the world’s problems, just talk. Shoot the breeze.

Recently on the farm, I noticed that a young man who lives there too but in the farm worker houses down the dirt track, was on crutches. I saw him a few times again and one day, he was standing at the community centre that I drive past every day. Impulsively, I hit the brakes and started chatting to him and his mate. You know what? They were lovely! Kind, affable and dare I saw it, respectful. Teenage boys with not much in this life to hope for, except maybe the same things we hope for.

Forget tik, what the hell are WE smoking?!

Anyway, so straight after that insert on the radio station, there was a story about a technological breakthrough on the way light behaves in space (ends up it doesn’t travel at a constant speed after all), and this song, of which I include the lyrics, so that there is no misunderstanding.

I think this sums up things nicely.

Well, this and that today, I will have to start doing something on my stoep, as it were, to “combat” xenophobia. I can’t very well fly up to the war zones, but I can most definitely create a peace zone.

That I know I can do. What about you? What CAN you do? Well, go out and do that. As soon as humanly possible.

“War” by Bob Marley and the Wailers.

What life has taught me

I would like to share with

Those who want to learn

Until the philosophy which hold one race

Superior and another inferior

Is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned

Everywhere is war, me say war

That until there are no longer first class

And second class citizens of any nation

Until the color of a man’s skin

Is of no more significance than the color of his eyes

Me say war

That until the basic human rights are equally

Guaranteed to all, without regard to race

Dis a war

That until that day

The dream of lasting peace, world citizenship

Rule of international morality

Will remain in but a fleeting illusion

To be persued, but never attained

Now everywhere is war, war

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes

That hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique

South Africa sub-human bondage

Have been toppled, utterly destroyed

Well, everywhere is war, me say war

War in the east, war in the west

War up north, war down south

War, war, rumors of war

And until that day, the African continent

Will not know peace, we Africans will fight

We find it necessary and we know we shall win

As we are confident in the victory

Of good over evil, good over evil, good over evil

Good over evil, good over evil, good over evil

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