Friday, May 23, 2008


So things here in Joburg feel like they are coming to a head. The violence of the past two weeks has subsided, relatively, within Gauteng, but has grown and spread into other parts of the country, with almost every state now reporting incidences of violence and attacks. However, despite the relative diffusion of the violence in Joburg, it is not clear right now if this relative lull during the past few days in the city is a calming of the situaiton, or if it is the calm before the storm.

There are so many rumours flying around about this weekend, and what might happen. Horrible words are being used and thrown out there to describe the potential fall out, and no one knows what to believe. Saturday is Africa Day, and there is some talk about how it can be a unifying force to bring people together and end this, but there are many rumours about how this will be used as an excuse to start things up again. The irony and tragedy of the latter scenario is lost on no one.

This is not just about xenophobia, though definitely there are lots of refugees and foreigners from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the like who are being targetted. However, this is more than that. South African's are also being targetted. This is not just being drawn along state lines, but also ethnic and cultural lines.

This ethnocultural element makes the conflict not only difficult to diffuse, since there are so many targets of the violence, but it also points to some very worrying fractures within SA society, and makes it hard to see what the long-term solutions are going to be to this uprising. Apparently people have been talking about this happening for a long time, but no one did anything about it (as usual). And now people are dying, and thousands have been left destitute, displaced or homeless.

We shall see how this weekend unfolds. My hope tells me things will reslove themselves. My head tells me there is little chance of that. My heart tells me that there is more tragedy to come. And my gut tells me that this situation, even if it calms this weekend, will not be over.

1 comment:

vicki said...

Dear Amy,
Thank you for a view from up close. Everything I have heard says that none of the violence is aimed at white people, but I have been thinking of you, hoping you are safe, and not too saddened by all of this. vicki