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Saturday, May 2, 2015

May 3, 2015
A whole month has gone by already and here I am , once again behind the times.  America has had its Baltimore and we have had our xenophobia, both, at least partly, the result of growing and deepening frustration with their situations. In the States, the not too latent racism coming to the fore in so many instances, one after the other,  that it seems that finally people want to say that is enough , we have had it, and now we are going to mobilize and make sure that we (black Americans and all other who are also disgusted with the ongoing racism in our society, especially in our police forces) are heard loud and clear.

The same is true here with regard to xenophobia but with a different core or basis. Unemployment among black Africans is probably more that 30% especially among the youth. Lots of talk and discussions and workshops and not much action/results. There is an appalling lack of “service delivery” (flush toilets, clean water in the houses, electricity, roads, health facilities, educational needs, etc. etc. etc. It is more that 20 yrs. of independence (April 24th, 1994—now called Freedom Day) We have to stop blaming the Apartheid regime . Come on guys, it is more that 20 yrs. now. Corruption, laziness, maladministration, lots of talk and little action, have bred anger and frustration over all these years to the point where it breaks out and these ugly feelings are vented on the first persons who get in our way, the foreigners. It is like the husband who it frustrated ate work, hates the work, hates his boss, but feels trapped, year after year, and finally, one day , it all comes to a head and when he comes home, he takes his anger and frustration out on his wife and children (typical domestic violence). Then it becomes and opportunity for the criminals to cash in, after listening to the trouble-makers shouting “ kill the foreigners”. I can say, honestly, that the feeling of the vast majority of Africans is shame at what is happening. The foreigners have run away from terrible violence in their own home countries and are willing to work hard and live, as they say, on the smell of an oilrag, in order to just live in peace, which is not there in their home countries. Many of my African friends and colleagues admit
 That man are just plain lazy and it is the truth. Here is some background on the situation.


(From a concerned person who spent all of his adult life in Zimbabwe and finally retired in his old age)
To Whom It may concern.  Having retired through illness to the UK I am nevertheless still concerned about what is happening in Africa. I have received the pastoral letters of Cardinal Wilfrid Napier OFM and the
* SACBC on the subject of Xenophobia in South Africa.
I am sorry for you all especially as Durban appears to have been the
epicentre of the problems.  I am encouraged by the positive steps taken by the Archdiocese of Durban to help those people disadvantaged in the situation.
 But I think we all have to look at long term solutions and the reasons for it.
 I was a little surprised to read the following in the statement of the SACBC:
 " We also exhort them (legal immigrants)  to expose those who are here illegally and report any criminal elements among them".
 I do not think there was understanding of the reasons for the "Illegal"
immigrants, especially those from Zimbabwe. They are like the boat
immigrants fleeing to Europe on account of poor conditions and
persecutions at home. Thousands of these migrants are dying on the way in unseaworthy boats in the Mediterranean sea. This is a much greater tragedy than the Xenophobia in South Africa. Most of these migrants are from African countries and the main sending country is Libya which is a member of the African Union.. Yet what is the AU doing to help? Its Chairman, Robert Mugabe, is at meetings in Asia instead of trying to address this problem. It is being left to the European countries to try to solve it.
 There is a very different perspective on the South Africa/Zimbabwe situation,. SA gains wealth from the present situation in Zim which imports about 8 billion dollars
worth from SA but only exports about 1.5 billion per year. Owing to years of misrule and corruption Zimbabwe is almost a failed state. There is endemic poverty and even starvation in some parts of the country and massive unemployment. These are the main reasons why there are so many Zimbabweans fleeing to South Africa, many “illegally” in terms of law, but not in terms of justice.
Over the years South Africa has continued to support the Zimbabwe government and overlook its rigged elections. So it has some responsibility for the massive immigration of Zimbabweans to South Africa.
These are facts that should be discussed. SA has the levers for effective change in the region if it used them properly. The Catholic Church’s **IMBISA could be really involved here as it is both the sender and recipient of these migrants. Beware of SA trying to get client states throughout IMBISA region.
 To ask other migrants to "expose" the illegals could lead to more
 fighting. You all have my prayers and best wishes.

·         Southern  African Catholic Bishops’ Conference

·         * Inter-regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa


In the meantime, my grand  niece, Katrina, who came out in January this year to work as a volunteer is being visited by her aunt, Karla, my niece, who flew to Cape Town from California. I flew with Katrina to CT so that I could help here get settled there for the time being and to be able to meet Karla, who flew in the next day. They did their thing, roaming around, and I re-connected with friends and confreres before flying back to Durban . It was only 3 days, but packed with meeting people.
    I think that this is enough for now or it may be another month before I manage to sit down again and update you all.
     Winter is here in the mornings (cold) but not so bad in the afternoons (nice and warm) till about 4pm. That means that the grass is not growing so fast (hooray) and it gives me a chance to do some other  garden work like pruning the trees and raking leaves and collecting dead branches, etc.

     In between I still visit people in the hospitals and attend meetings of various organizations, the last one being the NBO’s and NGO’s who have been trying to respond in various ways (food, tents, legal things, basic home needs, clothing, etc. ). I was impressed. There were more than 80 people there. Unfortunately, I was the only Catholic Priest. I am sure that there are some things that are going on in the Catholic enclave but I have heard nothing about them. I was invited by the Metodist Bishop to forget preaching last Sunday and get away from the pulpit and take my congregation among those who have been so badly treated and mix with them and see what kind of help they need.  Anyway, that is enough for now. See you again later but hopefully not so long from now. Cas

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Fr. Cas, for sharing your insightful and always appreciated comments and observations. I had not realised that the SACBC had urged 'legal' immigrants to 'expose' illegals who seem to have been lumped together with 'criminal elements'. If this is accurate then it is very disappointing and hardly the leadership that is so sorely needed right now.