Memba Ben By Memba Ben, 28th Dec 2017 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

Xenophobia is a terrible thing and affects us in ways we don't realise. This is a story of my first-hand encounter with xenophobia.

Doesn't matter where you come from or what nationality you are - In the end, despite what you may or may not think, we are all the same.

It goes without saying that I love my friends and thoroughly enjoy their company. Part of this is that we all bring something different to the table and that allows opportunities for us to find ourselves in situations wed never dream of finding ourselves in.

For example, one of my friends named Lee is a serial party animal. A week wouldn’t go past without Lee inviting us to the next “biggest party of the year” and we’d usually decline but this time, Lee wasn’t having it and through his persistent nagging, he managed to convince us to attend in his words “the mother of all parties” in another town…

A rough part of town.

Initially we had our reservations but with the lure of a good time, liquor and beautiful women, common sense gave way to a misguided pursuit of happiness.

Now as you know, a lot of African countries are impoverished and in some cases, it gets to a point where the people have to head out of their homeland with the hope that they will find a decent job to allow them to support their families. With South Africa being one of the leading economies in Africa, many foreign nationals come looking for jobs which puts them at odds with unemployed South Africans. The result of this being that a lot of ill will being built by some South Africans towards foreign nationals.

Xenophobia is a problem in South Africa. In 2008, there were nationwide riots where locals attacked people they believed were foreign nationals. These resulted in the deaths of sixty-two people, hundreds injured and the deportation of many immigrants to their home countries. There have been sporadic resurgences of xenophobic attacks but for the most part the violence has died down.

However, despite this, the resentment towards foreigners remains.

To give an example, in my city, attacks on foreigners still happen and at one point, they got so bad that immigrants were essentially driven out of metropolitan areas. Homes were burnt to the ground, shops were looted and many people were displaced. It was a terrible thing that happened but although their anger is misplaced, I honestly can’t blame them. For many years, South Africans have been appealing to government; asking that jobs be created but their calls have fallen on deaf ears. Inadvertedly, immigrants haven’t helped themselves as they are often willing to work for lesser amounts and are also seen as dependable as they rarely complain no matter how bad working conditions can be. This in turn fuels this idea that they are taking jobs which should be for locals.

But despite how bad things can be, that isn’t to say that foreign nationals are completely defenseless. Due to the police not being willing to actively intervene as much as they’d like, foreign nationals have decided that if the cops won’t help them, they’ll help themselves.

Understandably, the foreign contingent is…less than accommodating towards locals as they see them as entitled and lazy so to say that there’s no love lost would be a huge understatement.

The reason I’m saying all of this is because the part of town we were meant to go to was primarily populated by displaced foreign nationals.

Yes, I know; we were tempting fate and all that but despite knowing how volatile that town is, my friends and I still went with the intention of having a good night. We arrived at some random club and despite some unsavory comments; we brushed it off and soon began partying without a care in the world. One by one, things began coming together and in spite of the animosity towards us, we were living it up.

The night could not have gone any better but as with most things in life, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.

We were drunk and being drunken men, we ended up wanting female company. The boys and I began flirting with as many women in the club as possible and soon enough, our table was surrounded by a bevy of beauties.

We were on cloud nine. So much so that we didn’t notice the extra attention we had brought upon ourselves. Ironically enough, we were living out the stereotypes locals accuse them of. Not only that, on top of all that, I think we probably were reinforcing the stereotypes they had of us – we were drunk and acting entitled to their women and

I think seeing all that playing out must’ve broken the camel’s back because the next thing we knew, we were being urged out of the club by the women.

We were thinking we were going to get lucky but the more likely reason was for our own safety. As soon as we got outside, the ladies changed their tune and basically shouted at us to get the hell out of there.

“What the fuck are you talking about?!?”

Then I saw it.

The doors of the club burst open and out came a group of guys briskly walking toward us. While they did their best to hide it, their intentions were crystal clear.

These guys were tired of everything. Tired of being ostracized, tired of being treated like lesser beings and in this case, tired of doing nothing in the face of the South African entitlement.

They were dead set on making an example out of us and with murder in their eyes, they rushed toward us.

The only reason why this story didn’t end in tragedy is because our friend who was driving had the foresight to park close to the entrance and while we might’ve been drunk, we weren’t immobile.

As if death was nipping at our heels, we broke world records getting to that Ford Ranger, got in and fucked right off.

We never did go back to that part of town which is a regret of mine because despite how the night turned out, I actually had a great time but at the end of the day, until these issues are resolved; things will stay the same.

It shouldn’t matter who you are or where you come from or how different you are to me. We have to treat each other decently because in the end; decency is in the fabric of our being.

As Jesus once taught at the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:12):
"Do to others what you want them to do to you."


Personal Experience, True Story, Xenophobia

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author avatar Memba Ben
A fan's view on the business of football.

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author avatar Lady Aiyanna
2nd Jan 2018 (#)

Well, sometimes some people just want the sex and give the country the bad name.
Not always a person fearful of strangers, could be fearful of people around posing as friends as well.

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author avatar Memba Ben
3rd Jan 2018 (#)

Hi Lady Aiyanna

Thank you for reading my story.

Yes, I agree that a few bad apples usually spoil the cart but most people are understanding enough to look past differences.

Thanks again for reading

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