AT A CROSSROADS: Cry South Africa, what a shame!

Sunday April 14 2019

A man carries an axe as he walks past a burnt

A man carries an axe as he walks past a burnt out vehicle near the Jeppies Hostles, where foreign nationals are living, in the Jeppestown area of Johannesburg, on April 17, 2015 after residents from the Jeppie Hostles, purportedly torched the vehicle in the early hours. PHOTO|FILE 

By Saumu Jumanne

The last time I visited Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Morogoro, there was an old billboard in one of its garden that boldly proclaims: “Tell my people that I love them and that they must continue the struggle my blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom, Aluta continua” - Solomon Mahlangu.

The man in reference here was a South African freedom fighter. He was hanged at the young age of 22 by the apartheid regime. Before he was taken to the gallows, he is said to have uttered those words, which became legendary and inspired more young people in his country to join the freedom struggle. Instead of fearing death, he taught them, for the sake of freedom, to face it with courage.

In his honour, one of SUA’s campuses is known as Solomon Mahlangu Campus. He and thousands of other people including Mandela gallantly fought for South Africa’s freedom from the hands of the cruel white apartheid regime that treated black Africans in their motherland as second class citizens.

Tanzania, led by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, was one of the countries that greatly supported the freedom movement, both morally and financially. That is, we as a nation supported South Africans with all round support… resources including land from military camps etc.

Many other African countries like Angola and Zimbabwe also offered similar support. One day, after 22 years in jail, Nelson Mandela - the leader of the SA freedom cause, was released from jail. The rest is history as he became president of a free South Africa in 1994. It was an epic moment in the history of freedom and self-determination.

People across the world were very happy, and Mandela is thought to be one of the greatest statesmen that ever lived.

Finally, the blood of Solomon Mahlangu and so many others who were killed by the apartheid regime started “bearing the fruits of freedom” as the young man had dreamed of.

For hundreds of South Africans who found refuge and support in Tanzania and other African nations, it’s unimaginable that one day, their fellow citizens, in a free nation, would hate other Africans so much, to the point of brutally murdering them.

I am talking about xenophobic violence against foreign black nationals in South Africa, which has become a huge problem. The recent attacks that erupted on March 15, 2019 at Sydenham, Jadhu Place and Overport areas of Durban district of South Africa, are a huge shame, and very shocking.

Solomon Mahlangu and other South African freedom fighters who got great support from their African brothers all over the continent, must be turning in their graves. Today, Africans are afraid of sending their kins to the land of Mandela even for studies.

It is great to see Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Party president Julius Malema standing up very strongly against xenophobia. He has said that those fuelling “such attacks should not call themselves Africans” - that is if they cannot embrace fellow Africans.

South Africans should do a soul searching and completely stop such attacks. The history of our father of the nation, Mwalimu J.K Nyerere, should be a good teacher for them. He was a very central figure in the drive for a good number of African countries independence.

Back in 1967, Mwalimu Nyerere said that ‘total African liberation and total African unity are basic objectives of our Party and our Government…we shall never be really free and secure while some parts of our continent are still enslaved.’ He lived to his word, and did a lot for South Africa, including helping finance ANC operations in Tanzania. Actions like xenophobia negate all what Tanzania did for the South African. It’s such a shame!