Zimbabwe, and indeed much of Africa, was this week on edge following violence largely targeted at foreigners in South Africa.
The sporadic flare-ups of violence against foreigners have erupted over the past few years and it appears there is no solution in sight. We hope that Africa can speak with one voice and condemn violence wherever it rears its ugly head.
It would appear the differences that colonialism emphasised between Africans are still etched in many of our people’s minds, with many of the prejudices showing whenever populations are despondent or there is a perceived unfair distribution of resources.
Our artists, sportspersons, academics and many different people traverse the world and some have settled in various parts of the world. The more the people become exposed to many different cultures, the more tolerant they become as they understand other people better.
With the advent of the Internet, one would have thought that the world would be more united since many of the people spend their time interacting on social media across borders, rendering the physical borders mere geographical beacons with no real bearing on our daily interactions.
However, it would seem there are many prejudices that we have assimilated from childhood that we then spew on social media, not only showing our ignorance, but in the process straining relations between peoples as the attacked usually retaliate in equal measure.
The demon of violence may be visiting South Africa now, but if we do not address the root causes of such acts, no country can confidently say that it is immune from such.
Zimbabwe, a largely peaceful country that has managed to resolve some of its most difficult political disputes without resorting to violence, in January this year almost descended into chaos during riots that resulted in looting and burning of businesses, many of which may never recover.
This could have been based on a perception that there was a ‘them’ and ‘us’, those seemingly privileged as opposed to the underprivileged. There was no talk of foreigners but the violence was scary, making you witness an ugly side that you never knew your neighbour possessed.
Questions that need asking are how are we raising our children, what identities are we creating and attaching to our communities, and what derogatory terms do we routinely use to describe those that are different from us, and how do we resolve and demonstrate to our people how they should resolve disputes?
While we would like to stand with the victims in South Africa at this time, we also call on all Africans to self-introspect on how we treat fellow Africans especially, and other nationals in general. It takes a village to raise a child, and in this global village that has been constricted by technology, there is room enough for all of us if we rid ourselves of ignorance.