There is a definite link between hate and ignorance. It is human nature to loathe oneself when we are unaware of our inherent value and unique purpose. To undermine or hate others whom we do not understand. To decay when we defend our ignorance, and to diminish hopes of harnessing a collective power that can restore and regenerate when misguided jealousies are given room to fester in the heart.
By definition, Afrophobia is the fear of and bias against peoples from Africa, or of African descent. It is an unfortunate form of ignorance experienced on the continent as well as by the diaspora in different corners of the globe. On a daily basis, it looks like behaviour and mentalities that regard foreign African nationals as being “inferior”. This is usually achieved by refusing to recognise their inherent worth and stripping them of the right to recognition or to dignity. These acts of violence can be achieved physically, through published material or various forms of social exclusion.
Far from being benign, this behaviour is destructive to both “victim” and “offender”. It is dehumanising and fosters divisions that isolate us from potentially meaningful partnerships and interactions which can yield substantial enrichment; including social and economic fruit. African territories and metropoles have historically been fluid, multicultural centers of trade and diverse interaction, making Afrophobia a more recent development and shameful occurrence in human history that only strips us from fulfilling our potential as a continent.
Our shared heritage, which we so sadly have forgotten, is that of a diverse and beautiful continent, distinct and respected globally. Even though Kingdoms clashed from time to time, what was then is a far cry from the struggling mass that is pitied the world over today.
Am I suggesting that currently most South Africans and Africans are Afrophobic? Not at all! Much of Africa is characterised by hospitable and generous people. I am simply acknowledging cancerous cells in the life-blood of the continent and presenting solutions of how it can be cured.
Most conversations that condemn Afrophobia discuss why it is wrong. Whereas not much has been shared on practical ways to tackle this challenge on a daily basis.
Solution 1: Distinguishing coping mechanisms from solutions. A distinction has to be made between a coping mechanism, versus a solution which will initiate change. For example, hot-lines, early warning systems and anti-discriminatory laws are useful in that they help to regulate behaviour but they do not transform attitudes. The hotlines and warning systems help track down offenders and the laws help to penalize them. However, the law is limited in that one may or not get convicted for discriminatory behaviour but it is still possible for them to maintain a resentful attitude towards Africans or those of African descent. Meaning, they may pass this unhealthy, racist attitude onto their children, friends, relatives and colleagues. The existence of the mechanisms mentioned may challenge people to think twice about what they say or do. However, that will not necessarily transform what they believe or help them to appreciate the power of diversity.
For the completed list of solutions, read “Part 2”…