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Sho Madjozi on the complexities of Xenophobia in South Africa

South African musician Sho Madjozi, real name Maya Christinah Xichavo Wegerif shared her views on xenophobia as the country grapples with another wave of attacks on foreign nationals.

In a series of tweets Sho Madjozi bemoaned the lack of leadership by South African politicians in dealing with the complexities of xenophobia.

We are deeply scarred, deeply problematic, violent 😭 and in this case just straight up criminal. But I’ve also seen us overcome unspeakable evil and we can do it again. We can beat the rape crisis, we can beat xenophobia. I’m not giving up on you yet Mzanzi. I love you.


The reason we have bad leaders is because we want bad answers. We want people to say “foreign nationals are completely innocent” or to say “foreign nationals are completely responsible for crime”.


We get dishonest leaders because we want things to be black and white and the truth very seldom is. Good leaders would require us to be more nuanced. Good leaders would require us to understand that more than one thing can be true at once. And that some things can be partially true.


But good leaders are not successful because we don’t want the nuanced, complex and multidemnisonal truth. It’s not neat and easy to consume or attack. This is why we either get inactive leaders or populists.


Saying there’s a crime problem in the CBDs and that something needs to be done about it, is true. Even saying in some areas a lot of that crime is perpetuated by other Africans is true. But saying people are criminal BECAUSE they are foreign is Xenophobic. South African men killed Uyinene and Leighandre. South African men rape and murder and steal etc.


But I think denying that foreign nationals are responsible for a lot of the crime in certain areas fuels the anger of people who witness this daily. It makes them feel they have no choice but to act on it themselves.


At the same time, allowing South Africans to believe that other Africans are responsible for most or all of the crime here is just false and also feeds into violence.


I grew up in SA, Tanzania and Senegal. Yes I’m South African, but as a woman I’m well aware of the violence of SAn men, as a Tsonga person I can relate to feelings of being othered in this country. Etc etc.


The truth is complicated. More than one thing can be true at once. But that’s not what we want. Right now you can’t say crime is rampant in the CBD without being called xenophobic and you can’t say stop xenophobia without seeming to condone that crime. 😫🤷🏽‍♀️


Good leaders would acknowledge the truth in what each side is saying and weed out the untruth. And everyone would feel heard. But we don’t have time for that. We want to hear that these people are bad and these other people are good. In the order we choose.


Im just sad that Africans from other countries are mad at us. Law-abiding SAns don’t feel safe here either. No normal person can be happy that this is happening. Who is safe when violence erupts? Who wants to live in a city on fire?


You think a law-abiding Nigerian in Hillbrow or Yeoville is happy that there’s crime there? You think he/she is fine with crime there ?


Most people would much rather have a peaceful, happy and safe place to live. But people are disenfranchised and poor and we are all unprotected by the leaders we have chosen. And that is the tea.

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