An awareness workshop on xenophobia held by the City of Cape Town at the Cape Town Civic Centre on 24 July 2010 is proof that there are people in this city who are prepared to stand up for their brother and sisters from other countries.
The workshop aimed at reigniting the spirit of ubuntu in people’s minds. Many hands are better than one and if South Africans work together and make peace, the word “xenophobia” will remain only in our history books.
The City looked at factors that might contribute to these attacks. They felt that there is a need for community leaders to step out of their comfort zone and open the minds of communities.
The City found that communities might be lacking in political education about refugee rights. For this reason the workshop was held.
The organisers hoped to use this work to resolve issues that lead to these attacks. It set out the steps that needs to be taken to end the criminal violence.
The City feels that if Ward Development Forums, Ward and Street Committees, the Department of Social Development (both city and province) and church leaders could engage themselves in the communities they serve, they will be able to implement possible solutions.
THE WAY FORWARD
Ongoing, educational workshops can be conducted for local residents to be made aware of the Bill of Rights and refugees rights. Civil Society and Community leaders can also discuss these rights in their community and at sectoral meetings.
The power of advertising can be very useful to resolve these issues. Posters, pamphlets, and word-of-mouth can lead people in the right direction.
As a social science research and communications consultancy working in the development sector, Creative Consulting & Development Works has seen the impact that communications can have on development issues and changing people’s perspectives.
Awareness programmes, targeting both high schools and primary schools would be very beneficial, as youth were also involved in these attacks.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
Rallies are meant to mobilise communities, not only during the elections but also when issues like these crop up. In this way the broader communities can be reached.
Community Based Organisations (CBO’S), Faith Based Organisations (FBO’S), and government departments can devise a mass awareness plan to reach out to those who are unaware of refugees rights. They have the power to facilitate and build cooperation between local and foreign nationals involved in businesses.
Humanitarian Agencies, Coordinating Committees and Government have to keep record of active organisations that deal with refugees. They have to support them to enhance their power to implement education and awareness programmes.
It is everyone’s responsibility to protect our rights and freedom. We can all live in love and peace with our brothers and sisters.
What is your opinion about the xenophobic incidences that are flaring up in South Africa again?