The “Them and Us” Syndrome; Fear of the Other

 

 It seems the world revolves and strives on the fuel of segregation and division; the habitual seeking of a reason to segregate and something or someone to sink our teeth into.

If we are the same colour, we have to emphasise on the difference in our gender, and if we are of the same gender, then we need to remind ourselves of the difference in our colour or culture or ideology and religion. 

I was still reeling with shock from watching Nigeria sink into a new low in the recent elections; the blatant use of religion and tribe to garner support by state officials, both learned and illiterate, the verbal hurl of tribal stereotypes on social media by citizens without. 

South Africans, however, topped that. The Zulu king even exceeded the Yoruba King in the shameful game of acrimony and his target yet again were foreigners. 

His words like the blowing of a whistle, the uncapping of a furiously steaming pot already threatening to overpour set the South African “natives” in motion, and the bludgeoning, stabbing, burning and abuse of “foreigners” commenced. Never mind that they are humans.

Foreigners are always an easy target. In order to make inexcusable actions against them seem logical and warranted, reasons as to why they deserve to be punished are fabricated. 

The first word often saddled with “immigrant” is “illegal”. It’s therefore rationalised that since they entered the country illegally, they deserve what they get. Or they are blamed for personal ineptitude. A well known example is the “they are stealing our jobs” narrative. 

The media then jumps on this wave with sensationalist news, politicians seeking votes also tag along and the “natives” cry murder; Bloody foreigners! Nasty immigrants! 

It’s a well known story.

Nonetheless,  it is ironical that South Africa, a country well known for its struggle against segregation and apartheid, a country with a history of oppression and pain will mete out the same treatment. 

The Zulu king acknowledged the part other African countries played in bringing an end to apartheid “…the fact that there were countries that played a role in the country’s struggle for liberation should not be used as an excuse to create a situation where foreigners are allowed to inconvenience locals”, but of course it isn’t enough reason to be accommodating. 

He went on to say “I know you were in their countries during the struggle for liberation. But the fact of the matter is you did not set up businesses in their countries.” The scroungers were setting up businesses, earning a living and contributing to the economy. How unacceptable!

The truth is no country can survive in isolation, and the terms “foreigner”, “immigrant”, “native”, “indigene” are merely amorphous  words that change with context and time.  

How ever we move on from here, this act of xenophobia is a scar that will forever marr South Africa. It will be told and retold.

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2 thoughts on “The “Them and Us” Syndrome; Fear of the Other

  1. imade. says:

    I agree. We’re obsessed with segregating ourselves as much as possible, no matter how insignificant the criteria. Nicely put.

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