Public Discussion: A space to speak

What came out of honest discussions with community members and migrants

Written by Zinhle Dlamini

Public Discussion

Action support Centre steered by its tenacity to Build and strengthen a Culture of Pan African People to People Solidarity held a public discussion at Alexandra in Gauteng on the 22 May 2015 to address Africa’s contemporary challenges, with special emphasis on issues of social cohesion, Xenophobia, human rights and local challenges that South Africans face every day.

The Alexandra community engaged amongst themselves and with Leaders that were invited to take part in the discussion, including King Dingizulu Moyo Xaba who shared a message about unity and fighting against Xenophobia as one nation. Ambassador Welile Nhlapho shared his knowledge and experiences about migration and Xenophobia, saying that “Borders are a reality that we need to deal with, we have to emphasize free movement of people, we are citizens of this continent, not of this country”. He appreciated that ASC took the initiative to bring such a discussion to Alexandra where violence and Xenophobia have been expressed.

The community engaged in discussion and expressed concerns about the government not taking their issues into consideration. Many participants raised the issue of poverty, lack of resources and the conditions they are living under and how they feel the situation of living with migrants affects them, which is a point of tension especially when migrants are illegal. Nonetheless, one of the South African Somali Women’s Network (SASOWNET) representatives explained how language is a barrier for them to get legal permits at home affairs, which is why many end up migrating without legal documentation. She expressed the concern that they migrate to SA hoping for a better future, but end up fearing for their lives. 

The community was advised that they must take responsibility in holding leaders accountable for their actions, and that they must educate themselves about what the constitution says about human rights and how they can use those rights to call upon the government to take account for the promises they make when canvasing for votes.

The Alexandra community came up with strategies that could help alleviate some of the problems they are faced with, including an appeal for youth to be encouraged to take part when such discussions are organized, so they can learn about strategies that can help and make a difference in the community. They also suggested that the government could subsidise youth initiatives and provide resources for them to start businesses. The community called upon the victims of Xenophobia to voice out their experiences, and the reasons behind their migrations as this could help attackers to understand the pain and trauma they cause to other humans. Finally, they said government leaders need to come personally and be part of such events, to learn about community needs directly.

The event served as a reminder that Africans must take charge of their own destiny and make Africa a better place for all, that solidarity and peace is what the world needs in order to improve the economy, not forgetting that the youth is tomorrows future and it must begin with them. As Helen Keller once said `Alone we can do so little ;together we can do so much`.