“I am more than just an ikwerekwere” – young immigrants speak against Afrophobia

Afrophobia and xenophobia are still a harsh reality for many young immigrants living in South Africa. #Singabantu, a video created by the Sophie A Kanza Foundation, challenges Afrophobia and asks South Africans why we deny them as our brothers and sisters. The foundation creates a safe space for both local and African immigrant youth to collaborate on social projects.

The video was filmed in the houses that were burnt down during the Rosettenville xenophobic attacks in February. It features young Zambian, Congolese, Malawian, Zimbabwean, and South African citizens. They ask us why South Africans only see them as pimps, drug lords, thieves, and cheap labour.

The charred remains of the building hang in the background, while the young African nationals repeat the common Afrophobic sentiments they hear in this country. This reminds us that Afrophobia is violent both physically and emotionally. But they are resilient. In the opening scene a young woman asserts that, “I am more than just an ikwerekwere”. Later, a Congolese man asks, “Why do you insist on killing my soul with your words?”

Sophie Kanza, 25, the director of #Singabantu, told The Daily Vox that she wants the video to raise awareness about Afrophobia and what she calls the “limbo generation”. They are the Africans that were brought to the country while they were still young, and can’t find a place in South African society. “It’s sad that you can’t be proudly Congolese when you’re in a proudly South African environment because of the fear of persecution and the fear of Afrophobia,” she said.

Kanza wants South Africans to dispel the myths about African nationals. “I really hope that people who watch the video will be touched and will want to know us better, and will stop passing on this hate to everyone that they meet,” she said.

We are forced to look at them in their eyes and listen to what they have to say. They are not asking for our sympathy. They want us to acknowledge that they are human – #Singabantu

Watch the video here: