Final Paper- Reflection

Kyra Dunlap
Prof. Ferguson
HNRS 131- Social Movements in South Africa
1 February 2017
Xenophobia in South Africa
Xenophobia may be the newest expression of apartheid type values in South Africa. It is conveyed via exclusion, violence, and hate. Foreigners (especially from neighboring Zimbabwe) come into South Africa to escape their country look for jobs, and start a new life in a country that is very well developed compared to the rest of Africa. Xenophobia stems from immigrant workers, primarily from other African nations, “stealing” South African jobs; however, migrants do the work that no one else is doing like shoe repair and fruit stands. Therefore, they aren’t “stealing” jobs (Soweto Women).
South Africa’s economy is lacking skilled labor. Egan mentions that there is a lack of interest in a skilled labor job or post-education technical school. The majority of people who are unemployed in South Africa are young black men. Often these young men want to be successful and see a skilled labor job as beneath them and they want to strive for employment with higher status and higher pay.
This then creates a cycle where labor is unreliable, which leads to less demand of skilled jobs, which leads to no increase in wages. Employers are looking for the best skilled workers, which are not found in South Africa because young black men do not have the education required for the job. In other African nations, men and women are educated and trained in skilled labor. These skilled laborers know there are jobs in South Africa and they immigrate. They are hired, because there is a need for their skill. In order to stop the violence in South Africa due to xenophobia Egan suggests that education be equal for all races and that society adopt a new attitude and outlook on valuable work. University education is unattainable for blacks because of the expenses. Students are protesting the tuition and fees of universities in South Africa at the moment.
In addition to employment for skilled laborers, South Africa is a magnet for Africans to migrate to because the nation is wealthy compared to the surrounding countries even though their unemployment rate is high and there is a lot of violence; however, foreign immigration is only about 3-4% of the population mostly consisting of people from Zimbabwe.
There is a lot the South African government could do to prevent immigration ifit deemed it in the nation’s best interest. They could improve their immigration policies and border control increasing the little control over they have over immigration. They could acknowledge the political and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe and the effect it has on South Africa. Zimbabwe is facing a huge financial crisis where one has to fill a bag with cash just to buy a loaf of bread. This is leading Zimbabwe to run out of cash and therefore many are fleeing to neighboring countries.
When foreigners get their passports stamped they have 7-29 days to get a work permit. They wait alongside the road for someone to hire/ pay them to do any random job needed so that they may find permanent employment (Prosper and Xavier). If they are trying to find employment in Cape Town, then a lot of their time is spent traveling from the border to the Cape. This makes it hard for foreigners to be in South Africa. They have such a little amount of time to find employment and get a work permit.
The thing that confused me most of the trip was how this country could go through strict exclusion and horrible violence in the past and now be so open and forgiving about it, but now has so much hate against foreigners. South Africa has 11 different official languages and many races living peacefully together in places like Sophiatown, District 6, and many other townships. I do not understand how the nation can be so accepting of many races, languages, gay marriage, and yet feel hostility towards its neighboring countries. How are South Africans so willingly able to forgive past wrongs, but not accept foreigners? Is it because their economic well-being is at threat?
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for foreigners in South Africa. It is clear that many foreigners are successful in getting jobs as many of our tour guides were from Zimbabwe or other African nations. I wonder if there have been any more known attacks against foreigners like 2008. In May 2008 riots spread across the country killing two foreigners and injuring 40. Most were from Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique. Maybe as time has passed and more people have immigrated the more South Africans are accepting the new normal. I do not think it is just because of the passage of time. My guess is that people have had an attitude change. They might have realized that they are not “stealing jobs” and that the foreigners cause no problems for the locals. It might be something interesting to look into for further research.
The experience of traveling to South Africa was transformative for me. I did not just learn about the country of South Africa and its history and people, but I also learned a lot about myself, even if the trip was only 15 days. This was my first flight by myself, a 16 hour one. This was my first time going to the Southern Hemisphere and I knew no one. Traveling with a professor, two guides, and four girls was my crutch. Most of my days were planned and paid for, but I had no one telling me what to look at and read. I was told to be in a certain location hours in the future and left alone. I tended to stick by Rhea. We were roommates the entire trip, she is the closest to my age, and the one I related to most. I learned that I can travel without friends or family. I am capable of going through customs and passport control by myself. I can navigate an airport. I can communicate with locals. I discovered I am more self-reliant than I previously thought.
South Africa was both what I expected but also surprising. Johannesburg was more of a culture shock than Cape Town. I knew that South Africa had a high crime rate, I just did not know that fences would be the only thing you really see while driving. I knew Cape Town was more European and more touristy, but I did not expect to see barely any blacks or coloreds around.
South Africans are very open about their past. It surprised me. To go through such a horrible social experiment so recently I would not expect the nation to be so open to talking about race and their opinions on Mandela and other figures. I cannot help but compare South Africa to America. We went through slavery many, many years prior to Apartheid. We then went through Jim Crow laws and the civil rights movement in the 1960s, which is still 20 years before apartheid ended. Yet, we as a nation find race sort of taboo and rarely discuss what we can learn from our past.
Classroom learning only reveals some of the reality of a situation or place. Reading and lectures can provide background, a discussion of issues, and a limited perspective. Being able to talk to locals, tour landmarks, and ask people who lived through the experience increases what you can learn. In class sometimes I already realize this gap. I do not get the answers I seek or the knowledge I need. Being able to talk to the local women in Soweto provided me with the most insight into the country. That would not be an available resource in the classroom.
Both South Africa and the United States are healing from a past where blacks had unequal rights. Today, both countries still face repercussions of this conflicted history. In South Africa there is high unemployment, especially among young blacks. In America young blacks are being shot by the police for no reason other than because of the color of their skin.
Both countries also have issues with foreigners and immigration. Sometimes men are sent back to their country of origin leaving the mother and children alone. This reminded us of how Mexicans are treated in the US. With Trump now as president more parents are likely to be deported leaving families torn apart. Our border with Mexico is marked with a huge wall and many police. South Africa’s border with Zimbabwe is more natural, being that a river separates the two. In order to cross the river, one must be brave enough to face crocodiles and enough money to pay off the guards (Prosper).
I learned that I learn better by talking to others: debating with students, asking questions, processing my thoughts by talking out loud. Researching is easier when you are surrounded by all the resources needed. I was able to have a casual conversation on the long van rides and would be able to get insight on my research. It made researching more fun and interesting. Instead of talking to a librarian about your research and reading books and articles you could talk to locals who have seen violence first hand.
My Honors 110 paper about the relationship between Muslim assimilation and terrorism in Western Europe interested me because the topic was something I was passionate about. I was discouraged halfway through because I could not find the information I wanted. If I was able to talk to European locals and Muslims in Europe could have been more deeply explored the issues and my paper would have been more insightful and detailed. I have now been spoiled with being able to do research in the field.

Works Cited
“Blood at the End of the Rainbow; Xenophobia in South Africa.” The Economist, vol. 415, no.
8935, 25 April 2015, pp. 44. Proquest, Accessed 02 Jan. 2017.
Egan, Anthony, S.J. “Xenophobia in South Africa.” America, vol. 212, no.16, 11 May
2015, pp. 11. Proquest, Accessed 02 Jan. 2017.
Hopstock, Nina and de Jager Nicola. “Locals Only: Understanding Xenophobia in South Africa.”
Strategic Review for Southern Africa, vol. 33, no.1, May 2011, pp. 120-139. Proquest, Accessed 02 Jan. 2017.
Letsoalo, Jonas Leaka Humphrey and Odeku, Kola O. “Overcoming Executive Bureaucracy in
the Application of Administrative Justice to Foreigners in South Africa.” African Journal of Business Management, vol. 6, no. 12, 28 March 2012, pp. 4567- 4576. Proquest, doi: 10.5897/AJBM11.2663. Accessed 02 Jan. 2017.
Steinburg, Jonny. “Security and Disappointment.” The British Journal of Criminology, vol. 52,
no. 2, 24 August 2011, pp. 345-366. Accessed 02 Jan.


Day 13- Church and Tour of Township

Today I took no photos (I’ll explain later) so no need to get frustrated with the wifi. 

We had another late start this morning. The first thing we did was go to a church in the township. The music was fun and the people were very welcoming. The pastor preached about getting an education and using all of your brain. He didn’t really reference the Bible. Then he got into the topic of money and how he met a billionaire who was the age of his son and how successful this billionaire was. This made me a little confused as he was preaching to a low-income township. It sounded more like one of those how to get rich fast conferences than a sermon. The music and the vibe was very welcoming and fun. 

Next we walked around the township with a guide and I was very uncomfortable the whole time. She told us to take pictures and took us into barber shops and people’s houses (or shacks as some called them). I did not think it was appropriate to take pictures of someone’s home. I felt weird barging into their Sunday activities to see what their life was like. Many people wanted to take pictures of us or with us. This township was unlike Soweto. In Soweto the women were very welcoming and we shared stories and asked each other questions. We were learning from each other. Here we just walked in and out. We didn’t really talk to any locals other than maybe introduce ourselves and say where we were from. I felt like they looked at me like I was an angel or someone in high power just because the color of my skin and hair. 

Our tour guide had a different perspective of Mandela then most other people. When asked how she felt about him she responded with “he sold us”. She believes that he didn’t give them their land back and the mines. She believes that South Africans should own all their diamond mines and land. She herself is a supporter of the EFF (economic freedom fighters). 

Briefly we talked about racism and it reminded me of my Soweto post where I compared black lives matter to apartheid. The aren’t very similar and another contrasting point that was pointed out today was that although there is still racism in both countries in South Africa blacks are the majority by a lot where in America blacks are a small minority. 

Then we stopped for lunch at a mall and now we are back at the team house. Tonight I think we are getting seafood (I’ll probably get fries) so I will probably not update this blog post unless something crazy happens. 

Update on xenophobia: our guide said that the township had a lot of foreigners living in it and they ran most of the convenience stores and such. She never mentioned any hatred or violence towards them. She did say how there is formal and informal housing. The people living in the informal housing, or shacks, are waiting for the government to build the formal house for them. Sometimes people sell these formal houses to foreigners. This might create some frustration for people who are still waiting for their house. 

Day 12- Table Mountain, Bo-Kaap, and Cooking 

Tried to post photos but it’s not working today, maybe tomorrow. Well two uploaded the rest will have to wait till I get back to the US.

We started the morning off late with a lengthy breakfast. Then we made our way to table mountain (which is apparently on the the 7 wonders of the natural world) and went up to the top by cable car. We looked around took photos and made our way down in order to make it to our tour in time. 

The tour of Bo-Kaap started with a parade  and included a tour of the many mosques and colorful houses of this tiny community. The community has 11 mosques even though it only covers about 1 KM by 2 KM. The reason why the houses are so colorful is because the residents wanted to celebrate their freedom after Mandela was elected. 
We ended the day by making bread, chicken curry, chili puffs, and samosas for dinner. I turned out to be a pro at folding samosas. 

We were able to walk down to the beach in time to catch the sunset. So of course we took some pictures (I even brought out the jump) and I drew in the sand. 

Updates on xenophobia: tour guide we made today was not from Zimbabwe but rather from Malawi. Also Bo-Kaap was and still is a very Muslim community with people from Pakistan, Indonesia, etc. tour guide said if you don’t disrespect the community and do your part and work then people are not against foreigners. 

Day 11- Game reserve

We got up really early and drove to a game reserve. We saw very many different animals but my iPhone pictures don’t do them justice. We saw rhinos, zebras, lions, hippos, wildabeast, springbok, elephants, giraffe, and more. We got super close to the elephants. 

This game reserve made me want to go on another safari for longer and with less people. (Maybe with my grandma and grandpa reeves??). 

We ate lunch at the reserve and then most of our group went to go get cheap massages. I don’t want to spend money so I sat by the pool and caught up on writing blog posts. Soon we will leave and get in the car for a long ride back. I was planning on doing my blog posts when I get back but now I’m not sure what I will do. We are staying on a beach but the wind is crazy and the water is ice cold even though it is summer. 

Updates on xenophobia: our ranger guide was from zimbabwe. Seems like a lot of guides are from zimbabwe or maybe it’s just a coincidence. 

Day 10- Parliament, District 6, and Lions Head 

Busy busy busy day. That is why this blog post is late. We started with a tour around parliament. Our tour guide spoke really fast and was a character. He took many photos of us (all of them being on Prosper’s phone). Our guide was very informed on US politics and tried to compare the two governments. South Africa has 9 provencies and have 10 representatives each. 

Next we ate at the Eastern Food Bizarre where they had really cheap Chinese and Indian food. I had a huge bowl of vegetable fried rice. 

Then we made our way to the district 6 museum. Our tour guide used to live in district 6 and showed us photos of his house and family. He read us a few stories from his book and then we walked around. District 6 was a very mixed community before the government tore all the homes down and relocated everyone. 

The day ended with a long hike up lion’s head, which is next to table mountain. This hike was different because at some points we had to climb ladders and use chains and hooks. The view was beautiful. We were planning on staying for sunset but decided we didn’t want to hike in the dark. So we headed home and showered and passed out. 

Update on xenophobia: again I’m just thinking how past communities were mixed and diverse and yet now they are committing violence against foreigners. 

Day 9- Cape Point/ Good Hope and Penguins 

Today we drove to Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope. We took many photos at both of these places and stared at the beautiful water. We hiked up to a lighthouse at Cape Point that was shut down because it was too high up to see. This lighthouse has a great view though. Then we made our way to a penguin colony where we spent and hour watching penguins before the mountain fires got too bad. We were going to explore the surrounding town but the smoke and ash were so bad we returned to the team house. We even saw fire alongside the road. 

At the penguin colony it was fun to watch them waddle and jump into the water, but I did see sights that weren’t so pretty. First off, a seagull stole a penguin egg and then dropped it off a rock and wasn’t able to eat it. He wasted a life and didn’t even get anything from it. Next was a person shoving a go pro in multiple penguin faces. This was upsetting because the penguins clearly did not want this camera on a stick shoved into their face. 

The night ended with a house concert from Jenny Eaves. She is a folksong artist and tells stories through her music. She told stories of people she had met, her husband’s depression, crime, gay marriage, her neighborhood. Then we got the opportunity to sit down and talk to her. She told us that she was brought up as a very accepting and liberal white South African who was against apartheid. It was interesting and nice to talk to a white person about apartheid. 

While she began playing I thought about all the ways art have been used for healing. The ex-prisoner painting, the Soweto women singing and dancing, and now Jenny sharing through music. 

The one question I asked her was what her favorite and least favorite things about South Africa. Her answer was that she loved the people and diversity but hated the crime. One of her songs was about how so many children go missing in South Africa. 

Updates on xenophobia: both of our tour guides that have been with us this whole trip are from Zimbabwe, which is where most foreign workers are coming from. They were talking about work permits today and how when you get your passport stamped you have 7-29 days to get a work permit. This conversation was brought up because sometimes we drive on a busy road that is lined with men just waiting. They are waiting for someone to hire/ pay them to do any random job needed. One of our tour guides, Prosper, is getting married soon to a women from Zimbabwe (she lives in South Africa). Our other tour guide, Xavier, is dating a South African. Xavier was joking today about how Prosper is jealous because if Xavier gets married then he gets citizenship. 

I have also learned a lot about Zimbabwe this trip. There are many many many people fleeing Zimbabwe because of the government. Yet, South Africa isn’t really doing anything to help out other than yell at the foreigners entering their country. 

From Jenny it got me thinking about South Africa and how accepting they are. There are so many races and religions and languages in this country yet foreigner aren’t accepted. Gay marriage was made legal 10 years ago yet it is still looked down upon, maybe because it is illegal and not talked about in Zimbabwe. Even though it was a very chill day it still made me really think, maybe even more than any other day behind Soweto. 

Day 8- Culture in Random Places 

Today was an early morning and a day full of driving. This calls for a blog post full of random things that I’ve forgotten to mention in other blogs that relate somewhat to today. 

The first of those things being Donald Trump. Everytime we say we are from America most people respond with “oh Trump”. Our Robben Island guide yesterday day said we were from Obamaland. The ladies in Soweto first asked about, you guessed it, Trump. It says something when everyone in this country knows the negative connotation around him. Yet somehow we as a nation elected him. 

Our car rides are where I learn the most about the South African culture. Our drivers Prosper and Xavier are very open about sharing their opinions. Our group asks very controversial questions but the drivers have also asked controversial questions. Some topics have been high school, drugs, abortion, college, presidents, suicide, birth control, and today was marriage and patriarchal societies. 

Another place I learn the most from is from the other girls on this trip. We continue to have deep conversations about what we’ve seen that day and also about America. The car rides make us question our opinions and expand our horizons. 

I learn more from random conversations than a museum. I am more interested in present day situations because I like to live in the present. It’s always important to learn from the past in order to prepare for the future; however, there is no point in being upset about the past because there is no way to fix it and it helped create the present. I think in Johannesburg I felt guilty for not feeling upset or saddened by the sights I was seeing compared to the other girls. Over time I’ve been descentized after seeing concentration camps and documentaries. Now we just need to focus on the future. This is why I like to hear the Soweto women and the Robben Island ex-prisoners talk about the hope they have in the nation. 

This makes me realize how much more you learn about a culture when you experience it yourself and immerse yourself in the country. No matter how much you read you’ll never understand the full effect of the issues in a country. 

Today at dinner the topic of student protests at universities was brought up. South Africans really want a cheaper/ free higher education, following in the footsteps of Europe. Yesterday, Lionel mentioned how education was a form of reisistance at Robben Island and I think this has continued to today. All the people in the townships want to be able to argue against the government and be respected. Teens in America complain about tuition in America but there are no movements against it. I think it’s because our country doesn’t have the same history as South Africa. 

Today had just been a day of thinking… 

Updates on xenophobia: there are none again. We’ve been so caught up talking about different topics that xenophobia has not been mentioned the past few days.