Being in India made me realize the limited view people have of Africa, for example most Indians assume I am from South Africa. To them South Africa is the epitome of Africa, because if you’re not from South Africa and you have black skin then where else could you possibly be from? They see South Africa as the ‘capital’ of Africa, where everyone unites together and all African nations are represented. It is all about South African food and fashion.
And honestly speaking when I need a reference point while talking about Africa I usually refer to South Africa, because it’s a nation full of diversity. You stroll down Longstreet in Capetown and you walk by different looking people of all colours that have embraced their own sense of culture and fashion.
Compared to the other countries that I have been too I felt that South Africa had a spirit of acceptance that other African countries had not yet grasped. I could see it in the way people acted and dressed no one was shy to be who they wanted to be because they felt free. And this just wasn’t applicable for only South Africans but everyone. Personally I felt more at ease and free, there was a certain sense of blissful abandonment.
I appreciated this even more after I visited Robben Island, the prison which housed many freedom fighters and politicians such as, Nelson Mandela, and Jacob Zuma the current South African president. The condition that the prisoners had been faced with was heart-breaking, and also saddening to see that humans could put their fellow humans in such situations.
My respect for all the freedom fighters against apartheid soared when I heard of their stories and the struggles they faced. However during this time I am always proud of the way other African countries came to the support of South Africa. Ethiopia was one of the first countries that offered a hand against the harsh colonialism by giving military training to hundreds of South Africans. Nelson Mandela was welcomed to Ethiopia and received a hand gun as a gift as well as a passport under the name David Motsamayi.
Nelson Mandela made this statement at the OAU meeting on the 13th of June 1996, “When the history of our struggle is written, it will tell a glorious tale of African solidarity, of African`s adherence to principles. It will tell a moving story of the sacrifices that the peoples of our continent made, to ensure that that intolerable insult to human dignity, the apartheid crime against humanity, became a thing of the past. It will speak of the contributions of freedom – whose value is as measureless as the gold beneath the soil of our country – the contribution which all of Africa made, from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in the north, to the confluence of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans in the north.”
However as of late ‘African solidarity’ is waning, the tragedies that are happening in South Africa are proving this.
African’s fighting Africans.
I always get upset when someone comes up to me and asks me about the ‘situation’ in Africa or what people speak in Africa. To me, it is very irritating when I am among other Africans and someone assumes that we are all from the same place and speak the same language. Despite my annoyance I do like how we are sometimes put together, it shows that we are seen as a united front.
Over time I began to like how we were all seen as equals, to the outside eye there was no hierarchy among us, we were all just Africans.
But now the unity is breaking.
The unspeakable tragedies happening all over South Africa show that the any prior consideration for history has been forgotten. These Xenophobic attacks go against everything that the freedom fighters believed in.
To bite the very hand that pulled you from the pit is not the way South Africa should be known. Not after years of colonialism and apartheid.
I urge everyone reading this to choose compassion and understanding over anger and hate. It is no use to fight fire with fire. I can understand the frustration and anger that South Africans may be feeling towards foreigners, but violence is never the answer.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King Jr.