Xenophobia Spring – Sowing synergy and reaping red

Recently I was chatting to a fellow Bingwa based abroad, in Japan. The topic of discussion was the ongoing violence happening in South Africa. For me it was incongruous how the discussion was initiated over text. He sent 4 videos , 3 images followed by a series of 7 words to give me context on the media sent. The sentence read “What’s happening to you guys in SA”?

I then looked at the media , gruesome and vile as it was but baffled on how to answer the question. Because I had heard the news in passing over the radio but at the time what was being reported was the looting of the stores that had happened in the early hours of  Monday morning or Sunday evening. The images and videos sent to me seemed to be some sort of trailer for a horror movie lacking a narrator. They were all shot on different scenes within Johannesburg CBD. All violent , screaming and shock inducing. No context on what happened , who is involved and most importantly why this was the solution. I immediately started looking for details in the images and the videos , just to make out where in Johannesburg this might be.

I admitted to him with great shame that I do not know the full story but expressed the same shock and concern for this 25 year old democratic nation that resorts to issues that are not of the standard our Judiciary system . Many want to label these destructive conflicts as the forthcoming “spring” that is set to occur in South Africa.

The facts came to light and the context to the media had been explained by a trusted media source rather than a series of images being passed on via chain message. The shocking thing was how much of it was fake news, one video of a building being burned did not even happen in South Africa, the video was from India.The other images happened on South African soil , just under a decade ago and the context had nothing to do with the looting of the shops but rather mob justice for a violent crime against a woman. Out of the 7 things sent only two were recent and of the two the image of the looted shop was current, the aerial video from the roof showing protesters fighting with the police happened a month ago.Other nations retaliated at the South Africans in their home countries such as Nigerians and Zambians.

Current issue at hand is a trade issue that has a xenophobic bias to it. That needs serious intervention , especially for the sake of informal traders who regularly have to bribe law enforcement to operate over and above trying to make a profit. 

 But the timing of the “image assassination”  after a 6 year build up for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to be signed in 2018 and a legacy of the objectives written in African Union economic and business law that spans over 2 decades. Towards a sudden saltus during the week of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in South Africa is highly suspicious. Is it a sign that AfCFTA and the nations that have agreed to it need to review the policy  before taking it to a global forum like WEF? Did it happen to quickly even though governments in their nature take time?

My friend and I both agreed that we need civil engagement especially from the youth.From the Abuja treaty the objectives of African business law are there from an introductory legal framework. 

Foundation of AU economic and Business Law and the African Economic Community

Objectives in Article 4

a) To promote economic, social and cultural development and the integration of African economies in order to increase self reliance , indigenius and self sustained development.

b) To Establish , on a continental scale , a framework for the development , mobilisation and utilisation of the human and material resources of Africa in order to achieve a self reliant development.

C) To promote cooperation in all fields of human endeavour in order to raise the standard of living of African peoples, maintain and enhance economic stability , foster close and peaceful relations among member states and contribute to the progress, development and the economic integration of the continent.

d) To coordinate and harmonise policies among existing economic communities in order to foster the gradual establishment of the community (Amao,pg 70 : 2019)

 Amao, O. (2019). African Union law. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, p.70.

Are these four objectives enough to initially introduce to informal economies?Will it be shared like a broken telephone once again? Does context and detail not matter anymore but rather visual aids? If so maybe an Umoja  Bingwa blog does not serve purpose but rather a conscious artist does. Maybe Damian Marley and Nas ft K’Naan – Tribes at War, “We don’t want any more of that” . Bless the water , bless the land beneath us and save all our people that make up our digitally connected world.

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