In celebrating human rights month and human rights day, Activator Mbali Kubule took to the streets to construct a self-portrait album that raises awareness against Xenophobia. The self-portrait campaign serves as an innovative way of protesting says Mbali who believes that: “I am human before I am African.” This she says should be the barometer by which we appropriate respect to all people, be it foreign nationals or natives born within the borders of any country not limited to Africa.
As a nation we are quick to welcome other people whose pigment is not Black, call them tourists and show them hospitality, yet when it comes to our African brothers and sisters from just next door, we label them as foreigners . Mbali is of the view that we are all foreigners in some part of the world and therefore how we treat those foreign in our land will determine how South Africans will also be treated in other countries. Compassion is not just a concept or words on paper but rather an action emanating from the heart which seeks to bring to life the golden rule of thumb: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Nelson Mandela once said: “Hate is taught because love comes naturally to the heart than its opposite.” We did not sleep as a nation and wake up the next morning to find ourselves detesting African foreign nationals – we were taught to do such. In the same way we were taught to hate, we should be able to unlearn that hate. We are also not oblivious to the fact that some of the xenophobic attacks that have transpired were motivated by mob justice brought on by all the drugs and crime foreigners have contributed (the card schemes, cheap labour, human trafficking and the likes, yet it is not all foreigners who have contributed to this).
The fact is that South Africa is home and host to hard working Africans who earn their living through honest deeds-the Somalians who own some of the Spaza shops in our townships, the bead makers, the stall owners, the curtain and broom makers who go around house to house selling their craft are relatively honest in their trade yet they have also been caught in the fire during the recent xenophobic attacks, and it begs the question, ‘’Why?’’ What criteria are the perpetrators using to ascertain who deserves to be torched or mistreated and who does not? Is the violence on foreigners justified? Relative to its negative impacts, does it in anyway offer a way forward or solution to the problem?
This campaign hopes to pull at the heartstrings of our people to say, there are definitely other ways of solving a problem without resorting to violent means.