I was raised in a culture where we treat elders with the utmost of respect, no matter who they are. So last week, when I went into Mayfair to speak to Somali victims of the recent wave of looting and xenophobia in Johannesburgâ€
â€œThe first person to ask me about anything is you,â€ said one victim I spoke to, his eyes bloodshot and his voice soft. That really stuck with me. How can it be that we have a whole community of displaced human beings, but little to no regard for how theyâ€
People showed me their stab wounds and their burn marks, the result of xenophobic attacks. One man pulled out an official form to prove to me that he was an asylum seeker. Another asked me if I could call the UN for him so he could tell them himself that he needed help from them.
I was born after the end of apartheid, so I never experienced segregation based on my race or nationality. But itâ€
But at the rate that these attacks are going, true reconciliation seems to be a far off dream.
Reality checks are ugly things. I pray that the victims that I met, their families and others in their situation find safety. I pray that those among my countrymen who think attacks like these are acceptable find their humanity.
– Featured picture: Somali immigrant Ismaeel Adam is one of the many victims of xenophobia who sought refuge in Mayfair. By Aaisha Dad Patel.Â