The Artscape Theatre is to play host on Wednesday to a public lecture on xenophobia, hosted by the Skilled Foreign Nationals in South Africa (SFONSA). The event will be attended by several top government officials, as well as other notable speakers. On the agenda will be topics around pan-Africanism, globalization and challenges of migration policy in post-Apartheid South Africa.
The lecture comes several weeks after intense xenophobic violence broke out in parts of the country, notably the Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng regions. Foreigners become the subject of brutal attacks, with at least seven fatalities officially recognised by government. The wave of violence yielded both global attention and outrage, leading to retaliation attacks on SA nationals residing in other parts of Africa.
The event is set to attract a number of high ranking government officials, amongst them current Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba and Western Cape premier, Helen Zille. Steve Arowolo, one of the events scheduled speakers said they had sought to bring together South Africans from all sectors of society, business and civil society included, in a positive manner that could help address the challenge of xenophobia.
“We need to look at it wholistically, and begin to talk more about the solutions. The topic of the lecture tries to speak more about solutions, talking about issues beyond xenophobia. Let’s begin to reframe the narrative from the problem,’ he said.
Other speakers of note are the president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce, Janine Myburgh and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Patrick Kawuma.
The mandate of SFONSA itself seeks to provide some organisation for foreign nationals working in the country, and address ways in which they can contribute to the needs of South African society. They also aim to address some of the challenges faced by foreigners residing and working in SA.
Arowolo said they were seeking to work with community leaders in areas where xenophobia and anti-foreigner sentiment was most rife, to see how those respective communities could be educated on the idea of pan-Africanism. Furthermore, they were also looking to host regular awareness topics within these communities, so as to get across the same message.
“It is a way of continuously educating the population on the topic. We need to begin to talk about the fact that we are Africans; we are brothers. The Ubuntu factor needs to be something we talk about regularly, because this is who we are,” he explained.
The lecture takes place at 5pm on Wednesday at the Artscape Theatre, situated on the Foreshore. Those planning to attend are urged to be at the venue by 4:30pm. The event is free, but attendees are urged to RSVP on the website http://sfonsa.org/events. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)