“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will
again experience the oppression of one by another”
– Nelson Mandela
The Action Support Centre, guided by its respect for the diversity of African people, and the value of different cultures, took a stand against xenophobia by joining the thousands that marched is solidarity with immigrants, from Pieter Ross Park in Hillbrow to Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newton. The march brought people together to denounce the violence and embrace unity and the value of building strong and enduring relationships. The ASC team mobilised the Local Peace Committees, the ACTION Support Team, volunteers from various communities, and the South African Somali Women Network (SASOWNET) to take part in the march.
As marchers walked down the streets of Hillbrow, people gathered on balconies, and outside their shops as they watched, cheered, clapped and waved in appreciation. The streets of Hillbrow echoed with sounds from the Masipambane brass band, who we had hired for the event, and various songs with a message of unity sung by the marchers. The moments were epic, with young bikers strolling down the 5km march, which saw people of all races and nationalities joining hands in denouncing xenophobic attacks.
The march ended with the Gauteng Premier David Makhura addressing thousands who gathered at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newton. He highlighted that it was imperative that the country ensures the return of respect for life and the rule of law. He reiterated that despite the calm situation which is now prevailing, the anti-xenophobic message should continue and he called upon the people of Africa to gather on Africa Day, as there will be a musical festival, which will bring people together, celebrating oneness. The former COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi thanked the participants and said that they had made history – a history that is not made by the generals but by the masses of people. Present also was Winnie Madikizela Mandela and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba who echoed calls for peace.
ACTION Support Centre continues to support anti-xenophobic campaigns, as it believes in containing the violence immediately and holding responsible those who commit the violence.
The People’s March, held on the 23rd of April 2015, is an emergence coalition, organized by the African Diaspora Forum, the Consortium for Refugees and Migrant South Africa, faith based organizations, non-governmental organizations, major social movements and trade unions.