Song, dance, and sport to tackle violence

Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa. Picture: Linda Mthombeni

Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa. Picture: Linda Mthombeni

A joint program by the ministries of Arts and Culture and Sport will address targeted attacks on African foreign nationals.

This was announced on Saturday at the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee House in Johannesburg.

As to who will be doing what when, nobody knows because those details are not available quite yet. However, government has hitched itself to the approaching Africa Month celebrations in May under the theme: We are Africa.

With 21 years of democracy celebrations labouring under the stain of violence targeted against certain African foreign nationals, government has pulled out all the stops in its attempts to prevent further attacks.

According to South African History Online in January, Somali shop owner Alodixashi Sheik Yusuf shot and killed Siphiwe Mahori, 14, when Mahori was allegedly part of a rampaging mob attacking shops in Soweto.

On 5 March foreigners in townships around Polokwane left their shops after protesting villagers threatened to burn them alive and then looted them anyway.

Then in April, Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini said foreigners should return home, which sparked an uproar.

The violence spread to Verulam, north of Durban, and arrived in Johannesburg where the army was finally deployed.

On Friday, an “imbizo” was held in Alexandra where a handful of people could tell Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula what they believed the problem was.

On Sunday, sports minister Fikile Mbalula commended the Professional Soccer League (PSL) for its decision to sing the African Union anthem before each match. “PSL is the biggest brand on the African continent. It is best placed to take to our people,” said Mbalula.

At the Africa Cup of Nations this year, Mbalula said nobody had chased them around. “I’ve never seen such peace in the continent, [there was] no crime.”

And while politicians have been given a week off parliament to deal with the targeted attacks, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation has been frustrated by Nigeria asking its Acting High Commissioner to South Africa Martin Cobham and Deputy High Commissioner Uche Ajulu-Okeke to return for consultations.

In response, Dirco spokesman Clayson Monyela said in a statement: “We are not sure which actions or behaviour of the South African Government the Nigerian Government is protesting. If this action is based on the incidents of attacks on foreign nationals in some parts of our country, it would be curious for a sisterly country to want to exploit such a painful episode for whatever agenda.”


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