Bold campaign against xenophobia
‘Love your neighbour’ message spread in city
THE message was simple: “Know your neighbour and love them irrespective of their country of origin.” Organised by the Eastern Cape Refugees Centre, the “roadshow for peace” focused on Motherwell where a number of African foreigners have been attacked in their shops.
Residents and foreign nationals joined hands against xenophobia at the weekend with a bold door-todoor campaign.
On Saturday, the integrated group spoke out against the attacks and deplored general lawlessness which they said would not be tolerated.
About 200 people embarked on the door-to-door campaign, spreading the message under the auspices of the Eastern Cape Refugees Centre (ECRC) and other stakeholders.
ECRC director Sweetness Pullen said they had targeted the nine wards in Motherwell to deliver the message of love and peace.
“This is just the beginning of the campaign to eradicate xenophobia and crime in general,” she said.
“For a very long time, our communities have suffered silent wars and killings. Today we have a campaign and the message is know and love your neighbour.”
Pullen said 30 peace-builders had already been trained in Motherwell and Grahamstown.
Their role, she said, was to mitigate against violence and promote conflict management.
“Usually, the attack and looting of foreign-owned shops is sparked by service delivery protests. The role of peace-builders comes in handy in conflict management in such cases,” Pullen said.
The group kicked off their campaign on Saturday from Wells Estate and drove in convoy in and around the Motherwell area.
They made random stops at taxi ranks, community halls and outside houses and, with the use of a megaphone mounted on the back of a bakkie, called on passers-by to love and accept African foreigners living in their communities.
“Know your neighbour. They are Africans, just like you. Love your neighbour,” the announcer said.
Somali national Said Ahmed, who took part in the campaign, applauded the initiative.
“This is a crime-awareness initiative where locals and foreign nationals highlight the scourge of violence. Let us work together in peace and harmony. We all abhor crime,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of locals, Zoliswa Jakavula, of Ward 56, said: “With open arms, we welcome our brothers and sisters in our community. They are free to do business and stay with us. As a community we must stand up for them each time they get attacked.
“I have peace in my heart. We love our friends,” Jakavula said.
Pullen is also a consultant for Freedom House, an independent watchdog organisation dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world.
The body also analyses the challenges to freedom, advocates for greater political rights and civil liberties, supports frontline activists in defending human rights and promotes democratic change.
WARM APPROACH: Fundiswa Mami, left, 45, and Somali refugee Dahaba Abdi, 55, embrace