South Africa is not like any other country – it has a special place in the hearts of ordinary Africans. But that could change after the recent fatal attacks on immigrants.
Africans worldwide have taken to social media to show their anger against the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, writes Channel 4 News reporter Jamal Osman.
At least five immigrants have been killed in the latest attack. Many others have closed their businesses for fear of their safety.
Zimbabweans, Mozambicans, Malawians, Congolese, Somalis and Ethiopians have borne the brunt of the attacks.
People will be appalled by any killings. But what makes this particularly chilling is the beatings and burnings of fellow Africans – captured on cameras and then posted online. It’s important to note that some of the videos circulating are not recent.
However, South Africa is not like any other country in the continent. It has a special place in the hearts of Africans. Many feel united by its past and invested in its uncertain future. The struggle against the apartheid regime was seen as an African battle. Most nations helped South Africans through military training, political backing or moral support.
South Africa is also Nelson Mandela’s home country – a man that Africans regard as a father figure, a hero.
Even the Pan-African Parliament is based in the country. It is mission is “to provide a common platform for African peoples… on the problems and challenges facing the continent.”
That is what people expected from Mandela’s successors. Africans are not only angry, but the backlash against South Africans has already began.
South African engineers working in Mozambique have been taken to secure camps after threats of reprisal xenophobic attacks.
In Nigeria, a protester was quoted as saying: “If they force our brothers out of their county, they should remember that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. We would not hesitate, not by force but progressive agitation to tell South Africans in Nigeria to leave”.
Here in Britain, South African musician Kelly Khumalo has been forced to cancel to performances in Manchester and Coventry after threats to disrupt her gigs over the xenophobic attacks in her country.
A country that was looked upon to help solve the continent’s problems has rewarded with killings. It feels to many like a betrayal of the African brotherhood. South Africa’s place in the hearts of ordinary Africans may never be the same again.