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oa African Journal of Public Affairs - Reflections on xenophobic violence in South Africa – what happens to a dream deferred?

Volume 9 Number 9
  • ISSN : 1997-7441

 

Abstract

In 2008 and 2015, the world was horrified by the savage scenes of xenophobic violence towards black African immigrants in South Africa. It was an unfathomable behaviour, given the unprecedented support provided by African countries during South Africa’s struggle to end apartheid. This severely dented Africa and the world’s view of South Africa as a rainbow nation that is characterised by tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation. Borrowing a phrase from the classic work of the famed African-American poet, Langston Hughes, ‘what happens to a dream deferred?’ How long do people have to wait for their dreams to be fulfilled? It is this ‘oasis of unfulfilled dreams’ that the author of this article utilises to seek for a better understanding of the xenophobic violence in post-apartheid South Africa. The political freedom gained by the country in 1994 has not translated into economic freedom, and despite the end of political apartheid, economic apartheid still persists. There have been improvements in the lives of many people since the African National Congress (ANC) came to power in 1994, but the majority of South Africans continue to experience abject poverty and unemployment. It is within this context of hopelessness and disillusionment that the frustrations of citizens are projected onto foreigners of African extraction, who are erroneously accused of utilising the few resources and jobs, which should be the exclusive reserve of the country’s citizens.

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2017-12-01
2019-09-22

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