Namibia’s founding president Sam Nujoma has condemned the wave of xenophobic violence in South Africa that has resulted in the deaths of seven foreign nationals in the past few weeks.
Speaking at the Oshakati Totem Expo Gala Dinner this past Saturday, Nujoma called on Africans to unite in the spirit of “Pan-African brotherhood”.
“Africa for Africans, those at home and those in the Diaspora,” said Nujoma.
Thousands of fearful foreigners, many from Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, have sought refuge in makeshift camps in South Africa after a wave of xenophobic violence engulfed the neighbouring country, while others have returned home.
Nujoma noted that tribal divisions based on race were not known in Africa during the pre-colonial period.
He said the divisions that existed among Africans were based on clan organisation, as blood relations were defined on the basis of clans or totems.
“In the wake of the recent disturbing news of the rise of xenophobia in some parts of the African continent, I am convinced that totems will act as a shield against tribalism and xenophobia, because people from different tribes and countries may belong to the same clan or totem,” he said.
He further noted that the concept of totems creates a sense of unity, cultural linkage and pride amongst the people as they embrace their cultural values through common totems.
According to Nujoma, the challenges faced in African countries are the clear products of moral degeneration and decay, driven by lack of proper cultural guidance that would provide an understanding to African youth to know who they are, where they come from and where they are going.
“Our cultural values and norms, including totems, carry our African identity and that is why we should uphold this very important feature of our being,” said Nujoma.
Hundreds of Namibians are expected to march to the South African High Commission tomorrow to hand over a petition in protest against the xenophobic attacks in that country. Donations in cash and in kind are also welcome to help the displaced foreigners in South Africa.
Last week the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) cancelled a business trip to South Africa, while there are also fears that conservation efforts between South Africa and Namibia will be affected by the violent xenophobia attacks in the neighbouring country.
The NCCI labelled the recent attacks as an embarrassment for the continent, adding that no official business delegation will be sent to South Africa until they are assured that the neighbouring country’s government is in full control of its “unruly citizens”.
Meanwhile, Malawi has started a consumer boycott against South African shops in that country.
Yesterday News24 reported that the SADC summit in Harare this week will likely tackle the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
Ministers will begin meetings today at the summit, which was officially called to discuss industrialisation. Heads of State will meet on Wednesday.
The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper has predicted that South African President Jacob Zuma will have " a rough ride" at the summit when he is confronted by regional presidents whose nationals have been targeted in the attacks in parts of Durban and Johannesburg.
OSHAKATI MERJA IILEKA