Africa: What Did You Do in the War, Dad? Academic Xenophobia Denies History of the Frontline States


There is a growing narrative among black South African academics that other African academics 'do not understand the struggles of black (African) South Africans'. Feeding off this narrative are students who 'test' African scholars through infantile quizzes about South Africa and its history.

Who can forget the image of the "burning man" which was beamed all over the world in 2008? Simply recalling the image of the burning Mozambican man during the 2008 deadly xenophobic violence and the carnage it unleashed still sends cold shivers down my spine.

Not only was this man set alight as he begged for mercy and help, but he was kicked and taunted by a highly agitated mob. Others in the mob were laughing at the unfolding "spectacle".

What was equally disturbing about this scene was that a large number of young people were at the forefront of the murderous mob. Usually, media images pertaining to xenophobia seem to depict people on the fringes of South African society. These individuals are supposedly the main perpetrators of xenophobic violent attacks in South Africa.

However, there is another side to xenophobia which is gaining ground in South Africa's more "polished" and "sophisticated" sections, for example at universities....

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