I listened with shock to reports of xenophobic violence in Alexandra as I arrived back home in Johannesburg from an eleven day stay in Swaziland. I had been missing home. As strange as it may sound, I call Johannesburg home. After being in the city of gold for a year surely I can call it home? This sentiment however does not seem to be shared by those I consider my brothers and sisters. I am a foreigner; others even call me an alien. I wonder from which planet I fell from seeing I am from just across the river Limpopo.
In my mind I thought it would end with Alexandra, it possibly could not spread to other areas. I was wrong. It spread like a wild fire, shouts came from all ends, newspapers were in business, the selling-story being refugees in crisis.
Don’t they know, not all of us are refugees. Some of us are just migrants, some of us have identity documents others do not but that doesn’t make us less of a person does it? We have blood running through our veins just like you. We have loved ones, brothers, sisters, mothers and friends just like you. We have dreams, aspirations and ambitions just like you.
he phone calls start, emails and sms’s. Everyone wants to know if I am safe. Well I am safe. Never in my life have I felt guilty about being safe like now. How is it that I am safe yet someone sleeps outside? Another is not sure if they will be alive tomorrow. Mobs may attack their area. Nobody knows who, where next the fire will spread to. Yet I remain safe and confident and my life goes on.
Is there anything I can do? How can I help, can I help? No I cannot. I fear helping makes me vulnerable too. Is this how life is to be; that I preserve my life at all cost even though it means another will lose theirs? Is this really about foreigners?
I choose not to believe I am under attack for speaking a different language, having darker skin or being taller. We all are responsible. We have allowed violence to go unpunished. We have allowed them to beat up, rape and kill women, AIDS activists, lesbians. Why should they not kill the foreigner he or she is not like them?
Just wait and see tomorrow you will be the different one because you do not speak their language. Yes, you were born in South Africa but because you do not speak their language it will be your chance to burn. It will be your chance to burn if we do not stop this now! Violence never was the solution. Let’s fights the war, but at all costs let our weapon be peace which awards dignity to all.