As reports of the violent attacks continued, local and international communities decried the violence inflicted on Africans from neighbouring countries, with many rallying together both physically and online to condemn the attacks and show support for the victims who were forced to relocate to safety camps set up in the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.
Like true change drivers, Activators jumped in to tackle the issue on ground level by collecting donations amongst the network and from the public, organising volunteer days at safety camps and addressing the issue on a national level by taking part in marches and public campaigns against Xenophobia. Support for the Africans displaced in Durban was spearheaded by Activator Kanyisa Booi, who was horrified by what she saw when she visited the Isipingo and Chatsworth camps. Booi took to social media to implore South African’s to stop the violence. “I went to the Chatsworth campsite today. All I can say is; in the name of Africa Stop! Stop!! Stop!!!”
Activators across the country echoed these sentiments in various ways on social media and via events, workshops, marches and flash mobs. “My name is Mokgadi Matlakala a young employees [sic] at the Department of Home Affairs, like Kanyisa Kat Booi I refuse to stand back and see Afrika going in the direction that is going. #NotInOurTime #NOTINOURNAME #AfricaBelongsToAllOfUS” is a status update by an Activator from Limpopo that was reposted many times, along with a profile picture bearing the hashtags #WeAreAfrica and the slogan ‘Stop Xenophobia’.
Over the month of April, more Activators reached out and volunteer days were organised for those who offered to donate their time. When Xenophobic violence erupted in Germiston and safety camps were established in Johannesburg, Activators Pearl Pillay and Ise-Lu Moller organised the collection and drop off of donations as well as volunteer days at Johannesburg safety camps. In KwaZulu Natal, Activator Thabo Bophelong assisted in coordinating drop off and pick up points and Nonkululeko Hlongwane helped arrange volunteer days. One particular highlight was a visit from Clowns Without Borders to the Chatsworth safety camp, to “help bring sunshine to the Chatsworth campsite,” said Booi. The constant visibility and support didn’t go unnoticed. In a letter addressed to the ACTIVATE! network, Africa Solidarity Network (ASONET) wrote, “your prompt assistance and that of your network to the communities affected by the disaster is hereby acknowledged and appreciated”.
Other Activators joined initiatives in their area to show support for the cause. Activator Lindelwe Dube, in collaboration with Inkulufreeheid and the Youth Interactive Club, led a march on 25 March and hosted a soapbox dialogue titled ‘Say No to Xenophobia’ on 18 April in an effort to engage with the perpetrators of the attacks. They also collected and delivered donations to the Isipingo safety camp at the end of April. Not all Activators have access to big resources, however, some took a simpler but still effective approach. Activator Yanga Simphiwe Sithebe from KwaZulu Natal said that he would “write big posters with a marking pen saying no to xenophobic attacks and place them on poles in my community.” He appealed to everyone to do the same in their communities.
Some Activators used their talents to show their support and spread the anti-xenophobia message to the greater public. Activator Xolane Ngobozana, aka Viruz, founder of Viruz Empire Entertainment, gathered artists together and recorded and released a Say No To Xenophobia song called #Ma_Africa by Wattville Artists: Zero Degrees, CherryS Stone, Voro Da Viruz, Wattville Melodies Choir, Mashisa, Kau and Handsome Dumakude. Produced by John Bans and Chrizz-Man. The song was posted on YouTube and Viruz was interviewed on Radio EKFM 103.6 about it. The song is available for download here.
One of the bigger campaigns to emerge by Activators was a national silent flash mob held simultaneously in the Western Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape on Saturday, 25 April 2015. Activators in black T-shirts met up at various central points around the country and then dispersed in groups to traffic lights, taxi ranks and train stations where they stood with placards bearing the hashtag #WeAreAfrican in silent protest against the Xenophobic violence. ACTIVATE! is a group of young leaders who are working toward driving positive change across South Africa. As a network, ACTIVATE! condemns the violence perpetrated against our African brothers and sisters. To get involved with any of the above initiatives or for more information about the ACTIVATE! network, contact communications@localhost.