Xenophobia is the fear of strangers or foreigners that shows itself as antipathy or aversion to strangers. South Africa as a country has been through a lot over the years and a lot of Nigerians are relatively familiar with their plight as Nigeria fought beside them against the cruel apartheid system of government. During the time of apartheid and after it got abolished, xenophobia has been in existence in South Africa.
Xenophobia is pretty much the opposite of hospitality and has been recorded in a couple of countries across the world including Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, parts of Asia and the Middle East. However, the major occurrences have been in countries on the African continent. Xenophobia is different from racism in that xenophobes see members of other cultures as undeserving and inferior to the xenophobe’s culture and therefore demand that these foreign people should not be given the same benefits as the members of the xenophobe’s culture.
Immigrants from other countries faced discrimination and violence in South Africa from as far back as the 1940s. In 2018, research showed that the majority of South Africans believed that the immigrants were a burden on their economy and were the cause of their low standard of living.
In some ways, it can be said that xenophobia is a stark exertion of the selfish or jealous tendencies of a particular person upon others and in extreme cases can escalate to outright violence and perpetrating barbaric acts.
In South Africa, xenophobic attacks began in 1994 in the following locations Gauteng, Western Cape, Free State, Limpopo, and Kwazulu Natal. In the 1980s a lot of refugees and asylum seekers from other countries moved to South Africa and since that time, only about 20% of these refugees have returned to their original homes. This has led to a revolt among South Africans who want these foreigners to leave their land as they believe that they are the cause of the scarcity of resources, the countries violent past (apartheid), unemployment among other reasons.
South Africa is an industrialized country and has attracted a lot of foreign nationals over the years. The xenophobic attacks in South Africa have victimized not only the foreigners but also a number of South Africans who are not part of the major ethnic groups. Some South Africans have been attacked simply because their skin color is not similar to that of most South Africans
The timeline of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa is as follows:
- Destruction of homes and properties in Alexandra Township on December 1994 and January 1995.
- Xenophobic killings in Cape Town in 2000.
- Xenophobic violence in Johannesburg Township on May 2008.
- Displacement of Zimbabwean citizens in a rural community in November 2009.
- Mobbing by South African police killing in February 2013.
- The shooting of foreign shop owners and looting of shops in January 2015.
- Multiple xenophobic attacks in Limpopo in March 2015.
- Zulu King Zwelithini announced that foreigners should leave South Africa in March 2015.
- Attacks on foreign nationals continue in 2015.
- Multiple Xenophobic attacks on foreigners and some South Africans reported in 2019.