Abu Oâ€™Well received this letter from a friend in Alexandra:Â
Dear #NoToXenophobia people,
Shaken up, arenâ€™t you? You saw some knobkerries and hammers and youâ€™reÂ ready to pack up.
When you are done passing on sandwiches to foreigners maybe you canÂ come visit us, the locals. Maybe you can come see our lives.
Last week, my sisterâ€™s son was bitten by amagundwane, you know, those big rats. Moses survived, but now we don’t know if he has rabies. They tookÂ him to the clinic, but they said he has to come back next week because
the nurse couldnâ€™t find a taxi. Because of xenophobia they said. So myÂ sister came back home to Kennedy Road (she lives in Durban) and herÂ son will get bitten again. Because of the foreigners. The world mustÂ stop. Because of them.
Xenophobia is the cause of everything today. There arenâ€™t any toilets.Â Because of xenophobia. No electricity? Because of xenophobia.
Do you think we are stupid and blind? We see how outraged you areÂ when some foreigners are attacked. We see you taking them hot food,Â providing them with shelter. I’m sure there are no rats in thoseÂ tents. My brother in Joâ€™burg told me that in Mayfair you have a bigÂ tent with just 35 people inside. Maybe 200 people can fit in it butÂ it’s reserved for foreigners. But what about the homeless sleepingÂ around Mayfair? Why not give them shelter also? Whose country is this?Â Iâ€™m very confused.
We know you like them; the foreigners. They can buy your things andÂ sell them to us. They are good at business, no matter. But you areÂ only interested in business and money. But we have to live with them.Â We have to take their stares. They look at us like we are surroundedÂ by all this opportunity, but too stupid to do anything about it. TheyÂ think we are less than them.
So you want to deal with them, protect them because itâ€™s easier toÂ build your wealth with them rather than help us. Go ahead. It isÂ easier to work with them rather than train us, educate us. Oh, youÂ think we should educate ourselves? Ah, yes, we are lazy and feelÂ entitled. At my cousinâ€™s school in Messina they’ve had no textbooks sinceÂ last year. The teacher comes to class drunk on Tuesdays.
Some papers were changed, apartheid was over but what skills do I haveÂ to make freedom real for me? They promised us so much, but where areÂ the fruits of this nation? I see fuck all.
After fifty years of pushing us down in the mud, you want us to behaveÂ like the foreigners who made it here. Some of them are teachers,Â doctors, lawyers â€“ they came here because of trouble in their homes.Â How is that my fault?
There is so little space here in the townships â€“ and they are takingÂ that too. If we live in the city, we must live like dogs in a dirtyÂ hostel. If we go back to the farm, they tell us to go back to DurbanÂ or Jozi. They say itâ€™s drying up there. The farmers have foreigners inÂ the field also. Itâ€™s cheaper to hire them than us.
These guys haveÂ their own system of money lending. But tell me who willÂ give me a loan? I donâ€™t even have an address. Who will give me aÂ chance?
So we come back here to the township. And we scavenge for theÂ leftovers. We burn some tyres, then the counsellor talks to us â€“ otherwise no one comes to Alex. No journalists come here. We know howÂ to get them though.
We’ve got the message now to calm it down. So we will.
We know your beloved image has been damaged. You want to protect yourÂ business in Zambia and Congo and wherever. Itâ€™s okay, go do yourÂ thing. Ignore us. Treat us like fools.
But remember it will happen again.
The xenophobic mob