Ferrial Adam
Ferrial Adam

Xenophobia – it’s time to march in protest

I have just moved back to Johannesburg after spending about seven months in Cape Town. Even though I am very glad to be back in Johannesburg ,I am still stressed about the change, and to a small extent I have been sulking a little bit — finding a place to stay, new job, new friends, etc. Yes — this sounds horrible and so frickin’ self-absorbed!! So who gives a damn about a stupid move? I am just moving from one South African city to another I am not a foreigner in this country.

I have generally steered away from political commenting (for various reasons) and have preferred to write on environmental issues (which mind you, is not ‘not political’) but in light (or dark) of the xenophobic attacks happening in Gauteng, writing about climate change and biopiracy doesn’t make sense right now.

There is a war going on around us. There have been tons written about the xenophobic attacks, pointing blame, suggesting its origins, South Africa has lost the plot, etc. And to some extent I do agree that our leaders (from all political parties) have not shown adequate leadership — they have been politicking, thus allowing the situation to spiral out of control.

A fellow blogger questioned whether blogging can help the situation much — we do sit in our little castles and comment to our hearts and (some) minds content. It is comfortable to provide comment and not do anything, waiting for the government and police to bring the situation under control. Maybe there isn’t a whole lot we can do but what if we can make a small difference?

An anti-xenophobia march is being organised by a number of civil society groups/organisations on Saturday 24 May 2008 (ironically it is a day before Africa Day – 25 May 2008). The march is scheduled to start at 9am from the Pieter Roos Park, on the corner of Empire and Queens street. It may seem as if nothing can be gained from this march — but history has proven different — from Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr to the women who marched on Union Buildings.

I hope to join the march against these racist attacks, rather something than sitting back and pointing fingers. If you can, please join the march and let your voice against xenophobia be heard!