Say No to Xenophobia

By Mariga Thiothi

A week ago, a 2015 video of 19-year-old, Cool Zet from Kwazulu-Natal performing on South Africa’s Got Talent resurfaced again and with good reason!

Cool Zet brought the crowd to tears with his song against xenophobia dedicated to his friend from the Democratic Republic of Congo who had to flee South Africa because of xenophobic attacks.

“How can you kill your own kind? What happened to Ubuntu, sincerity and being kind? An eye for an eye makes the world blind. I’ve got a friend who I call a brother. He’s from another country but we still love one another. I felt tears in my eyes when he told me that his father died. He always said that he was fine but I knew how he felt inside, Pain,” said Cool Zet.

The video resurfaced on the back of vicious xenophobic attacks, which have yet again flared up in South Africa; attacks which began all the way back in 1992 and have become an infamous aspect of South Africa’s identity.

The attack on foreign nationals (primarily Africans) peaked in 2008 and again in 2015 and has resulted in an Africa-wide outcry against it and a call on the South African government to intervene. At the height of the violence in 2008, thousands of people were displaced and sixty people were reported to have been killed.

In a remarkably tone-deaf response to the violence, South African ministers made pronouncements on the crackdown of what they term as illegal immigrants. This comes on the back of sentiments made by political leaders and reflected by a lot of protesters interviewed that illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from South African citizens.

The most recent attacks which started off by the killing of Nigerian nationals have seen twelve people killed and hundreds arrested in the looting spree that ensued.

Cool Zet’s message comes at a point where tensions are high and retaliatory attacks against South African-owned businesses have happened in Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Malawi.

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