Africa: Who Would Politicians Blame If Foreign Nationals Went Home?

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The xenophobia in South Africa is not unprecedented on the African continent. It has happened before in countries like Nigeria and Ghana. But when violence succeeds in forcing migrants to 'go home', politicians are quick to find other scapegoats for the problems that xenophobia tries to distract attention from.

In recent weeks, foreign nationals in South Africa have experienced relative peace from xenophobic attacks, but concerns still remain in people's minds. These include questions such as, "will another outbreak of xenophobic violence occur?"; "when?"; "where?"; and most importantly, "where is South African society headed to, with ongoing attacks against non-nationals?"

One should probably also ask what danger there is that this hatred could shift gears from foreign nationals to ethnic hatred. Xenophobic attitudes and violence are not unique to South Africa. In fact, the continent has seen it all before. An example being the 1969 eviction of Nigerian immigrants from Ghana and, in 1983, the expulsion of Ghanaians from Nigeria popularly themed "Ghana Must Go".

There is a striking resemblance in the underlying factors that led to the 1969 and 1983 expulsions, as well as the repeatedly occurring xenophobic attacks in South Africa. For instance, the 1969 Alien Quit Order...

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