South Africa, don’t let ubuntu die

Demostrators march against xenophobic attacks in Khayelitsha township near Cape Town. [Mark Wessels/REUTERS]

Demostrators march against xenophobic attacks in Khayelitsha township near Cape Town. [Mark Wessels/REUTERS]

“United for Bafana.” These were the words on a Mozambican national’s armbands, who was stabbed several times and killed as he pleaded for mercy from his attackers. In the eyes of his ruthless killers, he had ceased to be a fellow human being but rather a wild animal, an enemy to be slaughtered without much ado. An enemy against progress of a people, they saw him as a disgruntled fellow who cut short the dreams and ambitions of young South Africans. They saw him as a dream shutter.

He was a vampire who had sucked the life out of South Africa.

No matter who would try to stop them, that man was dead meat, as vendetta flows as freely as blood in their bodies which is enough to numb humanity. Why has humanity become a cloth that we strip off whenever we like?

As I viewed the images, one after the other, brutal and gory as they were, one young man raised his knife to stab Emmanuel Sithole. Emmanuel was a foreigner who came to South Africa to seek employment, all that was drawn on the attackers face was hate and delight of a lion striking down a Buffalo; inhumane and selfishly cannibalistic. The xenophobic attacks in my brother-land, South Africa, tells a story of an almost lost country, one whose admiration extends all over the world, from the West Indies to the shanties of Jakarta. I long for the days that poets wrote about Sharpville and Soweto’s fame of solidarity to fight the apartheid. Is your glory fallen? No! No! No! Please, brothers and sisters, don’t let that be the case. As a man, I want to beat my chest like a proud gorilla to my offspring and tell the stories of mother Africa and yours will go first brother.

A Tanzanian friend, who feels outraged by the death of two of his country men, killed as a result of the attacks on foreigners, said, “How soon have you forgotten that we sheltered the ANC and trained its armed wing the MK in Morogoro and Mbeya?”

Those dark days, we felt the pain of another brother, we prayed and sang songs of freedom, yet we knew never bothered to know each other. We watched “Sarafina” and made it our favorite, our instrument of inspiration .

We shared dreams of a better future where our children would play together despite our different tongues. We shared wounds and bled together. When you were hurt it was our pain, too. We suffered together and cared for you as a brother would. After all, you are part of our body, that when the arm pains it affects the whole body. Yet, today, you turn against me, just a few years later after independence. What happened to the love that we had built? Love that was there before our borders, love that is so ancient and well preserved if we look within and part of the air that we breath. Love that is abundant, anyway why do you think they came to Africa? What are you high on brother? Is your vision blurred? How can you cut your body and not expect to bleed?

You see me as an enemy and make my sibling who came to look for that job which you despised, run away with a helpless 5-month-old baby to safety, in a not so safe country but she doesn’t know better. How can you burn our siblings? How can you burn the heirs of Mama Africa, our children? What right do you have? My love for you is a vigilant fire and still burns bright though. We are still brothers from the same womb. They tore mother Africa into pieces, if we tear it we are either high or depressed and inflicting self harm on ourselves. I know you’ve been through a lot, I know I can’t feel your pain as deeply as I would want to. I promise you that your imbalance will not be solved by cutting into pieces parts of your body. Put your swords down.

Who killed ubuntuism in us? Why do we see our fellow Africans as a prey? Yes, Mbeki, Zuma and their governments are not addressing the issues affecting your lives but do you think resorting to hate and harm will solve the situation? Why don’t you direct all this energy to real revolution? Why don’t you direct all this energy to turn the tables round and spare a life of an innocent brother, a father and son of Africa? Only you are capable of such justice. I wish I was a better example. I must say despite the fact you got your independence later than most of us, we are still proud of you. We look at you like a boy looks at his father and with a toothless grin says: “I wanna be you, papa.”

You are way better than us, brothers. In my land, corruption, insecurity, hate, blanket punishment of communities, tribalism continue just to name parts of the mischief I have been up to. I have been up to no good, I must admit. Your state of affairs scare and shake every bone in me because we are weak fighters and have done this much damage. What about you? The anger in you is massive and you are better persistent fighters. Calm down, don’t follow in the childish ways of your foolish little brother. You’re way up there and we are down here but if you fall you’ll hit beneath us, so don’t.

Don’t deprive me of my chance as a man to point out to South African role models to my offspring and say in an emphasized bass: “Those are the blood of our blood, if they built a nation so strong, so can you little heirs of Mama Africa ”

The power is with you. I said it a decade ago and I can still reassure you that your future is bright brother, let’s pick up pens and strategize together. In your dark night I will stand with you with love I send my hugs.

You are a hero, a survivor, a gentleman and the best that Africa has ever had .You are our feet we can’t stand without you. Don’t lose your rich heritage and historical position over capitalistic position.

Lets Live by ubuntu and hold onto the dream.

Do I make sense? If yes, stop the killings and be an African at least from today, Africans don’t kill fellow Africans. Love and love.

Idris Muktar is a student at the United States International University Africa and an intern at eNCA’s Nairobi bureau. Follow him on Twitter @IdrissMuktar.

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