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Is Xenophobia in South Africa Threatening Pan-Africanism?

  • Gibbs Dube

Refugees fleeing anti-immigrant violence are processed by immigration officers at a transit camp in Beitbridge, ZImbabwe, April 24, 2015.

Refugees fleeing anti-immigrant violence are processed by immigration officers at a transit camp in Beitbridge, ZImbabwe, April 24, 2015.

Xenophobic attacks in South Africa have dented the image of the African continent with some critics saying the violence threatens the concept of Pan-Africanism.

But others say Pan-Africanism, which has often taken the shape of a political or cultural movement, is not under threat at all.

There are many types of Pan-Africanism and in its narrowest political manifestation, according to Britannica, Pan-Africanists envision a unified African nation.

For perspective, Studio 7 reached Sabelo Sibanda, a member of a community group, Uphondo, and Diana Zimbudzana of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum.

Sibanda, who is also at the School of African Awareness, said the violence will bring Africans closer.

“ … It seems as though it’s dead. No, it’s very much alive my brother. We are using these particular incidents to not only show that it is still alive but to revive its significance to the generality of the global African nation,” said Sibanda.

But he acknowledged that there are some South Africans who believe that they are not part of the African continent as they only live on the southern part of Africa.

“You here some people when they are going to Zimbabwe, black people, black South Africans saying to you they are going to Africa.”

Zimbudzana echoed the same sentiments, noting that South Africa is one of the countries on the continent that don't commemorate Africa Day.

“Even its foreign policy, they are hoshy, poshy, they are all over the show … they are not sure of what of they want. South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa that don’t celebrate Africa Day. Why don’t they?”

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