Schlagwort-Archive: xenophobia

Ubuntu in Germany Column

Experience true ubuntu when you use public transport in SA

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is a South African journalist and speaking in her column about the country of her birth. She had lived in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

Since returning to South Africa, I have been using public transport to get around. In my neighbourhood, I walk to the shops and enjoy the exercise but to get to work requires busses, metered taxis, TukTuks, the Gautrain and a great deal of patience. Besides getting where you need to be, you also experience true Ubuntu – up close and personal.

JoziBusSun

© The Sandton sunset taken from a Metro bus one afternoon. (Pic by A Smit-Stachowski)

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Ubuntu in Germany Column

We are all African!

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is a South African journalist and speaking in her column about the country of her birth. She had lived in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

As attacks on fellow Africans continue here in South Africa, locals are voicing their upset by marching on the streets and collecting blankets and food for the displaced victims. Xenophobia is a difficult issue – neighbouring countries supported us during the Apartheid days and now must see how their citizens are being beaten to death by faceless angry mobs.

United Nations Photo

© Ubuntu-Columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski returned home at the end of 2014 to South Africa – the land of her birth. She is observing and commenting the current xenophobic attacks on foreigners from African countries – mainly in Durban. (Source: flickr/ United Nations Photo)

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Johannesburg-Bloggerin Laurice Taitz im Interview

Eine Frau über ihr Engagement für ein „schönes Johannesburg“

(Autor/ Editor: Ghassan Abid)

Deutsche Interview-Zusammenfassung:

Johannesburg ist eine Stadt, die mit vielen negativen Begleiterscheinungen einer Metropole in Verbindung gebracht wird – Kriminalität, Rassismus, Verkehrschaos, Armutsviertel und Arbeitslosigkeit. Laurice Taitz hingegen bloggt nur Positives aus und zu Jo´burg. Sie liebt ihren Wohnort, den man aus verschiedenen Perspektiven her betrachten müsse. Arme und Reiche leben hier beinahe nebeneinander. Viele Gesellschaften sind in einer Gesellschaft integriert. Die einstige Goldgräberstadt hat sich zu einer riesigen Heimat von Millionen von Menschen unterschiedlichster Herkunft, Religion, Sozialschicht und Nationalität entwickelt. Die Innenstadt mit dem Constitution Hill, dem Verfassungsgerichtshof Südafrikas, bewertet die Bloggerin als schönsten Ort Johannesburgs. Ebenso faszinieren sie die seit hundert Jahren bestehende Public Library, die öffentlichen Kunstinstallationen, das künstlerisch-hippe Viertel Maboneng, die Shopping-Straßen unweit der Diagonal Street und das äthiopische Viertel im Osten der Stadt. „Die Stadt ist voller Gegensätze und Plätze, die es zu entdecken gilt“, sagt Laurice. Und dennoch bevorzugen Europäer eher Kapstadt aufzusuchen. Sie selber war bereits zweimal in Deutschland und auch in Berlin. Die deutsche Hauptstadt beneidet sie für ihre schöne Architektur. „Es ist ein Ort, welcher viele Lektionen für Südafrika bereithält“, hält sie abschließend fest.

© Johannesburg is offering a reams of public arts (Picture Source: www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

© Johannesburg is offering a reams of public arts (Picture Source: http://www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

© Laurice Taitz, Blogger from Johannesburg

© Laurice Taitz, Blogger from Johannesburg

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We would like to welcome on „SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste“ – the German Gateway to South Africa – the in Johannesburg based blogger Laurice Taitz.

You started your blog „nothing to do in joburg besides…“, in which you present a cultural view on this megacity. What is Johannesburg standing for?

Answer: Johannesburg is a city on the move. It was founded on a gold rush and it remains true to that, a city that in parts flashes its wealth and that also hides a rich seam of gold. It can be a difficult place to get to know but for me it’s a vibrant urban African metropolis.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Which is from your point of view the most beautiful place in Johannesburg and for which reason?

Answer: The inner city is the most beautiful place because every time I am there I see that the huge efforts to revive it are showing results. Some of my favourite sites include: Constitution Hill, where the values of one of the most progressive constitutions in the world are brought to life each day; Johannesburg’s newly-renovated Public Library, a 100-year-old architectural masterpiece; the city’s growing collection of public art; the up-and-coming hip urban district of Maboneng; the maze of shopping streets of old Johannesburg around Diagonal street; the Ethiopian district on the east side of the city; and Braamfontein’s lively streetlife.

Diagonal Street on Google Street View

The city is full of contrasts, and places to explore. And while you didn’t ask, the second most beautiful place is Johannesburg’s suburbs in spring when the jacaranda trees are in bloom and this tree-lined city is full of purple blossoms.

© The Public Library in Johannesburg (Picture Source: www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

© The Public Library in Johannesburg (Picture Source: http://www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You demonstrate on your blog mostly lovely sights of Johannesburg. Why aren´t you writing on difficult topics like crime, poverty, xenophobia or corruption?

Answer: While I focus on what I love about the city and what it has to offer I never shy away from dealing with its less comfortable aspects, as these are part of the city’s challenges. As a former political reporter I am also acutely aware of giving readers the full story. I just don’t dwell on it because I see enormously positive changes taking place.

© Johannesburg is the home of different cultures (Picture Source: www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

© Johannesburg is the home of different cultures (Picture Source: http://www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Today, South Africa has developed a huge blogging scene. How would you evaluate the importance of blogs for the public opinion making process in South Africa?

Answer: I think that particularly the Joburg blogs that have emerged are helping to shape a new perception of the city for locals and foreigners. So many voices, filled with pride, in exploring a city, discovering its secrets and creating a sense of belonging from diverse perspectives.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Johannesburg is a big cosmopolitan city with many cultures and nationalities. Do you think that in Joburg is one society or rather several societies living side by side?

Answer: It depends where you stand. You can choose a pocket of the city and never see what’s beyond that corner but I think Joburg is many societies in one. A place where rich and poor live side by side, not always easily, and where people from all over Africa and the world congregate. The mix is what makes this city exciting.

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2010sdafrika-editorial staff: The most Germans and Europeans are preferring to live in Cape Town as in Johannesburg. How far could you understand this decision and which pros is Joburg providing?

Answer: I think people from Europe are easily seduced by Cape Town’s incredible beauty and promise of a cosmopolitan lifestyle. Who isn’t? But saying that, Joburg has a perceptible pulse all year round, and that makes it an exciting place to be with its mix of people, cultures, commerce and arts.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Which perception do you have from Germany and Germans?

Answer: I have visited Germany twice and each time been struck by a country that has rebuilt itself into a modern and dynamic society and that continues to deal with its past but is looking to its future. It is a place that has many lessons for South Africa. I also fell in love with Berlin’s incredible architecture and hope to visit again soon.

© A spirit mix of religion and arts in Jo´burg (Picture Source: www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

© A spirit mix of religion and arts in Jo´burg (Picture Source: http://www.todoinjoburg.co.za)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Laurice Taitz, blogger from Jo´burg, thank you very much for this urban interview!

2010sdafrika-Interview mit dem Architekten Luyanda Mpahlwa zur Johannesburger Städtekultur:

https://2010sdafrika.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/johannesburg-im-architektur-boom/

NGO-Direktor Braam Hanekom im Interview

Polizei in Südafrika ist von Rassismus gegen afrikanische Flüchtlinge befallen

(Autor/ Editor: Ghassan Abid)

Deutsche Interview-Zusammenfassung:

Südafrika hat ein großes Rassismusproblem im Zusammenhang mit afrikanischen Flüchtlingen. Insbesondere die Behörden des Landes, allen voran die Polizei und die Einwanderungsbehörden, sind von xenophoben Strömungen gegen Afrikaner betroffen. Ermittlungsverfahren im Hinblick auf die Misshandlung von Ausländern durch Polizeibeamte werden all zu oft erst gar nicht betrieben. Zu dieser Erkenntnis kommt auch Braam Hanekom, Gründer und Direktor der NGO PASSOP. Der gebürtige Simbabwer versucht mit seiner in Kapstadt ansässigen Organisation die Grundrechte von afrikanischen Flüchtlingen, Immigranten und Asylanten durchzusetzen. Denn nicht jeder, der Recht hat, kriegt auch sein Recht. Vor allem dann nicht, wenn diese keine Aufenthaltspapiere bekommen. Nur hochqualifizierten Afrikanern steht der legale Aufenthalt am Kap offen. Vor 2009 sind pro Jahr rund eine Viertelmillion Simbabwer abgeschoben worden. Trotz der Einheitsregierung in Simbabwe von 2008, welche aus den Parteien MDC and ZANU-PF zusammengesetzt ist,  machen sich – bei einer Arbeitslosenquote von 85 Prozent durchaus verständlich – weiterhin viele Simbabwer auf dem Weg in das südafrikanische Nachbarland. Diese erwartet nicht nur eine fremde Umgebung, sondern auch Fremdenfeindlichkeit durch Staatsdiener sowie Township-Bewohnern und ein unsicherer Rechtsstatus.  Flüchtlinge, so Hanekom, werden in der Regenbogennation als Gefahr wahrgenommen. Einige Hilfesuchende stellen einen Asylantrag, die anderen leben illegal im Untergrund. Bei absoluter Armut, hoher Arbeitslosigkeit und unzureichenden Schulplatzkapazitäten mündet der Wettbewerb um die begrenzten Ressourcen in einen Hass gegen Afrikaner ein. Der NGO-Direktor spricht in diesem Kontext von der „Afrophobia„; einer Xenophobie, die sich ausschließlich gegen afrikanische Flüchtlinge richtet. „Die Armen greifen die Armen an„, hält Hanekom mit Bedauern fest. Solange in Südafrika die Ungleichheit bestehen bleibt, wird die Fremdenfeindlichkeit fortbestehen. Hanekom erwartet in naher Zukunft die nächsten Ausschreitungen gegen afrikanische Flüchtlinge. Im Mai 2012 jährt sich zum vierten Mal die Gewaltwelle gegen Flüchtlinge im Johannesburger Stadtteil Alexandra.

© PASSOP is counting to one of the most important NGOs for protecting and promoting „the rights of all refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in South Africa“. (Source: flickr/ PASSOP)

© PASSOP is counting to one of the most important NGOs for protecting and promoting „the rights of all refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in South Africa“. (Source: flickr/PASSOP)

© Braam Hanekom, founder and director of the NGO PASSOP

© Braam Hanekom, founder and director of the NGO PASSOP

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We would like to welcome on „SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste“ – the German Gateway to South Africa – Mr. Braam Hanekom, founder and director of the NGO „People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP)“.  You are originally from Zimbabwe and assisted the most important oppositon party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) by president Morgan Tsvangirai. How would you describe the actually situation in your native country, if you are hearing the government hasn´t money to finance elections?

Answer: Thank you for giving me this opportunity – it’s great to see people in Germany taking such an interest and caring about issues in South Africa and the region. To answer your question, the situation in Zimbabwe remains much unchanged since the formation of the unity government in 2008. There is a still a political deadlock between the MDC and ZANU-PF. While Mugabe has been pushing for early elections this year – probably because he currently has the finances to run a big propaganda campaign through the diamonds that were recently uncovered, as well as the fact that he is not getting any younger – the MDC and regional partners have maintained that the preconditions for fair and sound elections outlined in the Global Political Agreement have not yet been met. It is clear that although there has been a minor economic recovery in Zimbabwe, it has been the rich who have prospered while the vast majority of the population is suffering in poverty and have to cope with a 85% unemployment rate. Therefore, the situation remains precarious and we are trying to push the South African government to take a more active and assertive foreign policy approach towards Zimbabwe to ensure it’s stability. 

© Immigrants from Zimbabwe are living as second class citizens in South Africa. The South African government is ignoring the xenophobic tendencies in their authorities. (Source: flickr/PASSOP)© Immigrants from Zimbabwe are living as second class citizens in South Africa. The South African government is ignoring the xenophobic tendencies in their authorities. (Source: flickr/PASSOP)

© Immigrants from Zimbabwe are living as second class citizens in South Africa. The South African government is ignoring the xenophobic tendencies in their authorities. (Source: flickr/PASSOP)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: PASSOP is protecting and promoting „the rights of all refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in South Africa“. There are estimates that 5 million African refugees living in South Africa, mostly from Zimbabwe. Which are the biggest problems for these humans?

Answer: Immigrants that come to South Africa find it extremely difficult to get documentation. Only people who have advanced degrees are able to get work permits. All others, including teachers or nurses, for example, are unable to get work permits. As a result the only chance immigrants have to document themselves is to apply for asylum. The vast majority of applicants are however rejected, and are forced to live in South Africa without documents. This has negative implications for the realisation of their basic rights. They are often exploited, discriminated against and left in vulnerable positions. They are also often faced with a hostile and xenophobic environment in South Africa, and are subjected to verbal threats and physical violence. To put it simply: people come here fleeing hunger and conflict, but once they get here, life does not get much easier for most of them. 

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Several South African communities are strucked by xenophobic violence such as Du Noon in 2008, Imizamo Yethu in 2008, De Doorns 2009, Masiphumelele in 2009, as well as Mbekweni in 2010. What are the factors for these hate outbreaks?

Answer: There are many theories. I guess this ‚hate of foreigners‘ is common in countries around the world, including the States and Europe. Like in other regions, hence, xenophobic tension here is essentially the result from the competition for scarce resources, like jobs or access to schools, and many South Africans feel that foreigners are making lives more difficult for them in these ways. The difference in South Africa compared to other parts of the world is that the tensions here more often turn violent. This excessive violence here is the result of a number of factors, including that the scars from the Apartheid regime have not yet fully healed in South Africa, there are deep inequalities and frustration across the country, and the media is making it worse by being flooded with gruesome images of murders or crime, which perpetuates the ‚culture of violence‘.  By the way, it is probably more appropriate to call this ‚afrophobia‘ rather than xenophobia, because you don’t see any Europeans being attacked, just other Africans.  It is the poor attacking the poor, fighting over the crumbs left behind by the (mostly white) elite and rich. It’s very sad.

© PASSOP demonstration in Cape Town. The NGO held in 2009 a demonstration calling for all Zimbabwe's political prisoners to be released. (Source: flickr/  Sokwanele - Zimbabwe + PASSOP)

© PASSOP demonstration in Cape Town. The NGO held in 2009 a demonstration calling for all Zimbabwe’s political prisoners to be released. (Source: flickr/ Sokwanele – Zimbabwe + PASSOP)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Would you agree the opinion that the South African police is afflicted with racism against African refugees?

Answer: Yes, and even if it is not just racism, it is definitely a very clear apathy or indifference towards foreigners, which means that in practice, many cannot access their rights. We constantly hear cases in which police officers refuse to open or investigate cases for foreigners, as stipulated by law. This police apathy is in fact what makes outbreaks of xenophobia possible. If the police doesn’t protect vulnerable foreigners, then who will. It is a major problem, but it is acknowledged by political leaders. I recently laughed when I had a debate with a police chief on the radio about this, and he admitting that it was a massive problem but that there were ‚pockets of excellence‘ in the police force.  

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Do you think xenophobic violence could arising in the near future again?

Answer: Definitely. We are now coming up to the four year anniversary of the major outbreak of May 2008, but the tensions are still boiling right under the surface because the preconditions have remained the same. As long as South Africa is plagued by the current levels of inequality, they will keep resurfacing. I am not saying that the majority of South Africans are xenophobic at all, but there is a certain group of frustrated young South African men across the country that are prone to violence. 

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: What should the South African government and first of all the Department of Home Affairs undertake for avoiding xenophobia?

Answer: The government needs to create more jobs and work harder to reduce the inequality. The Department of Home Affairs should give foreigners a chance to document themselves by issuing temporary work permits, rather than forcing them to be undocumented and then deporting them in their thousands. This deportation of foreigners is an important issue. The deportation of Zimbabweans was stopped between 2009 and 2011 – prior to 2009 about 250,000 Zimbabweans were deported every year. Going into communities doing immigration raids and targeting foreigners was one of the key factors that triggered the xenophobic violence, because it legitimized the mistreatment of foreigners in the eyes of many in the townships („if the government can kick out foreigners, so can I“) and it also led to huge instability. Five months ago deportations of Zimbabweans was resumed, and already 20,000 have been deported and immigration raids have started again. This is dangerous for stability and needs to handled very differently. 

© Braam Hanekom is originally from Zimbabwe. His organisation PASSOP is protecting and promoting „the rights of all refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in South Africa“

© Braam Hanekom is originally from Zimbabwe. His organisation PASSOP is protecting and promoting „the rights of all refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in South Africa“ (Source: PASSOP)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We took notice that with your programme coordinator David von Burgsdorff a German citizen is engaged in your NGO structures. Is PASSOP maintaining relations to Germany and if yes, which ones?

Answer: Yes, David is my right-hand man who has helped me build up this organisation. He embodies the classic stereotype of ‚German efficiency‘ – it’s amazing how he gets things done. In fact, he is the only of our 11 full-time staff members who is not African, although I suspect at heart he is by now more African than German…  We don’t receive any funding from Germany, nor have any formal relations with the German Embassy at this point, but what is certain is that through David our staff have become big admirers of your country and it’s people! 

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Braam Hanekom, PASSOP director, thank you very much for this interesting interview!