On May 7th 2015, some of the ACTION Support Centre team attended the Anti-Xenophobic Campaign Imbizo in the Orlando Stadium in Soweto. The day event was organised by the South African Congress of Non-profit Organisations (SACONO), in collaboration with the city of Johannesburg and the Gauteng Province. The theme of the anti-xenophobic campaign was ‘Unite Africa and Building the Africa We Want towards 2063’.
The event was kicked off with music and a dance performance, before the attention turned to the issues at hand. Discussion was started by a multinational panel formed by representatives of several organisations and institutions—such as African Diaspora, Home Affairs, Council of Churches, Department of Social Development, CORMSA, among others—who shared messages of solidarity and unity. Their voices were joined by members of the public and other organisations who took the opportunity to voice their thoughts to the audience.
The discussion covered issues of education, cultural exchange and Pan-Africanism, human rights, the South African Constitution, and economic concerns, such as financial independence and unemployment. Tintswalo Makhubele, one of the chairs of the event, emphasised the importance of education and union for realising transformation. Another point raised by the speakers was the importance of migrant integration and cultural exchange. Since resistance appears to be on both sides, it was said that integration is a two-way dialogue to which both South Africans and migrants should be open and committed to learning from one other, embracing the unity of being African and sharing the same continent.
While messages of unity and solidarity are important, it is also vital that we live by those values we claim to uphold—from the way we interact with each other to our inner thoughts. The event brought to light the need for organisations responsible for such events to pay particular attention to ensuring that language, services, and community involvement is approached in an inclusive and empowering manner, in order to avoid contradictions and further fragmentation. With such an approach, each of us becomes a vehicle for solidarity and unity, rather than such values remaining a distant dream.