We are all ‘Makwerekwere’!

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I can’t believe that many years later, we are dealing with hate for one another as Africans. What happened in South Africa is a tip of an iceberg. It’s a reflection of the problems black Africans have with each other. We live in an Africa, where people gauge each other basis of complexion – (how light, or dark), how poor or rich, or their nationality or creed.

Even with our painful history, we have allowed ourselves to be shallow and empty. We have allowed ourselves to be pawns of the West and to hate our own people to the extent that we can kill each other. It’s a shame. 

We can’t blame apartheid, colonialism or racism. This barbarism is architect of black people’s issues and their hate for fellow blacks. We can’t blame anyone. To do so, would be intellectually patronizing blacks. It would be assuming that by mere fact of being black some of our people are so dull that they can’t reason for themselves. 

The xenophobic attacks witnessed in the past weeks, are not some “deep” problem that needs to be anlaysed using big words and complex theory.


This is not a diplomatic issue, but a social and criminal matter that reflects some South African’s mentality. It’s a case of certain people embracing stupidity, and blaming other people for their problems.

The unfortunate thing is that the people who this is directed to won’t read it, mainly because most of them are illiterate and unlearned. 

One would think that in this day in age, human beings would be civilized. Unfortunately, some people are worse than brutes. They don’t respect human life. We cannot ignore the fact that it’s not only rural Zulus who are afrophobic. Even the so-called learned develop hate for outsiders, which leads to strife and conflict. It’s an African disease. Even here, in Botswana, there are locals who resent foreigners for no sensible reasons; hence they call them ‘makwerekwere’. 

I have never understood that “condition”. I have met a lot of people from around the world. My social circle consists of many foreigners.  I read a lot and have been exposed to different parts of the world. I was schooled in a multi-racial school and interacting with all sorts of people – from the African Diaspora, Asians, Europeans etc exposed me to various cultures. It would be hard for me to be xenophobic, not because I’m better than other people, but because I have been socialized properly.

Criminal elements have taken advantage of the situation to loot and steal, that’s all. To a certain extent, this violence reflects the angry state of some South Africans. It’s ironic that blacks don’t attack whites and Indians who are foreigners, but find justification to kill another person. As Robert Mugabe rightfully said, “South Africans will kick down a statue of a dead white man but won’t even attempt to slap a live one. Yet they can stone to death a black man, simply because he is a foreigner.” 

This whole incident has been dejavu to me. In 2008, I was in Cape Town when the spate of xenophobic violence erupted. Apparently South African locals had complained that foreigners were taking their jobs, business opportunities and women. They wanted them to leave. In 2008, vividly remember being confronted by the horrid picture of the burning man on newspaper front pages. I was sick - You know that feeling that is a mix between nausea, trembling bowels and dizziness? Yeah. I couldn’t understand how someone could do that. Why are some blacks to ANGRY? 

Sometimes we think that xenophobia and afrophobia are things that “uneducated” people but even the so-called educated people have those tendencies. It’s just a dangerous combination of ignorance and pettiness.

The only difference is that the latter aren’t violent as the former. 

Some of our people are threat to themselves and each other. Uncontrollable. Barbaric. Wild. Unfortunately the afrophobic perpetuators don’t realise the negative impression they make of their country. It should be a punishable crime and sin to be inane.

Africans are in need of a lot of education, on politics and economics. Personally, individuals should learn to be emotionally and mentally mature. African governments also need to find sensible solutions to the immigration problems besieging the whole continent. Everyone is in a way a mokwerekwere, because when you leave your base and go elsewhere, you become a foreigner. The realist in me thinks that blacks will never unite, considering the mentalities we have, but you know, love knows no borders.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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