Fighting Xenophobia in South Africa

Fighting Xenophobia in South Africa

by Anthony Ndang Ndichia mhm

“Down with xenophobia”
A Christian Approach

Recently, scores of incidents of xenophobia resurfaced in some key towns of South Africa and has left many people asking whether South Africa has the grit to fight xenophobia. The most recent xenophobic attacks took place in Gauteng in February 2017. Communities alleged that some houses, owned by foreign nationals, had been turned into brothels. They alleged that drugs were found and other crimes – like human trafficking – uncovered. The assumption was made that foreigners were the cause of these crimes. Locals cited these reasons for the attacks.

In response, there have been continuous rallies protesting against xenophobic attacks on foreigners. Protesters have marched in key cities chanting “down with xenophobia”.

President Jacob Zuma has always maintained that “No amount of frustration or anger can justify the attacks on foreign nationals and looting of shops”. Such attacks have hindered the progress to a united Africa. Foreigners are our brothers and sisters. Just like us, they are someone’s mother, father, brother, or sister. Each person has an invitation to practice hospitality, kindness, gentleness, patience, and most of all humanity, to our neighbours.

As a local church, we have become more proactive in preaching and acting against xenophobia. The beauty of this is that us missionaries, we are from different African countries currently working in South Africa. In an attempt to raise funds for the building of a church hall for the parish in the township, I organised a family harvest thanksgiving to raise funds for the project. I invited Nigerians, Cameroonians (I am from Cameroon myself) and the faithful of our local parishes. Although it looked like a harvest thanksgiving event of raising funds, it actually turned out to be a unity movement and sharing between foreigners and locals.

The visitors mixed and blended well with the community.

There was a renewed spirit of love and acceptance amongst the people. The gospel message of “love your neighbour as yourself” and “love each other as Christ loved the Church,” was very visible in the eyes of the people.

During Mass, we prayed for one another, for one family, for love irrespective of origin or race: black, white, foreigner or citizen. At the end of the ceremony £3000.00 was raised with the bulk of it coming from foreigners. Jesus said: “When I was hungry, you gave me food… a stranger and you welcomed me”.

Anthony Ndang Ndichia mhm

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