On Friday 23rd August 2019, the Africa Unite School Club in Gauteng hosted an Anti-Xenophobia School Summit in Midas building, Noordgesig, Orlando-Soweto. The summit was curated for the youth to share their thoughts on the ongoing xenophobia attacks which are crippling our nation and continent. The summit had participants from schools from Johanesburg; New Gate College & Fons Luminis Secondary School and Ekhululeni; Sjabulile High School; Eketsang High School; Vumbeni School, Poneng High School; Phumelela Combined School in Gauteng.
From the engagements of the day and fruitful discussion raised by the learners, the participants collaborated and drafted a press statement sharing their stance on the ongoing xenophobia attacks in South Africa which is as followers:
COMMUNIQUE: SOCIAL COHESION & ANTI XENOPHOBIA SCHOOL SUMMIT- SOWETO
On Friday 23rd August 2019, we learners of the seven schools in Johannesburg and Ekhululeni in the Gauteng Province were invited by Africa Unite and Crystal Horizons Youth Centre for a dialogue on Xenophobic activities taking place in our beautiful country. The summit took place at Midas building, Noordgesig, Orlando-Soweto.
- Though we came to the summit with little information on migration but with a strong desire to learn as Human Rights promoters.
- Prior to the summit, many of us had some misconceptions, stereotypes and myths on foreign nationals living in our country such as that they are draining our public services and taking our parents and family members jobs; they are here to enjoy our democracy; they bring drugs and sell them as well as other criminal activities such as human trafficking.
- After a extensive debates, training, work into groups and panel discussions with expert from IOM, Africa Unite, Amnesty International, CORMSA, South African Congress of Non-Profit Organisations- (SACONO) and together with a wonderful key note speech from Ms Lebo Chaka, CEO of Afro Visionaries who have travelled in more than 15 African countries and have experienced wonderful welcome from other African Countries; Mr Jay Eseyoma, a Nigerian businessman who left a good job in London to come and invest in South Africa with his South African wife.
- We are glad that now we understand a little bit of human rights, reasons why people migrate and contribution of migrants to our country
- Firstly we wish to categorically condemn act of violence and xenophobia against foreign nationals and mainly black. We say NO to Xenophobia in our country.
- We are deeply concerned that we have been told lies all along about foreign national and it is so shocking that information such as those we received in this summit is lacking in the communities where we come from.
- We are asking ourselves why the information such as this is not in our school curriculum (such as how African countries contributed to the liberation of our country from Apartheid; how many freedom fighters were hosted well and educated in other countries; how they travelled using other country passport)
- We are so concerned that many people still believe that migrants hugely impact on their lives in a negative way as we were thinking before this summit.
In our discussions we all agreed that the way migrants are being treated in our communities is not fair and it is completely inhumane; it is against our constitution which envisions a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights. We have seen an increase in xenophobia and acts of hostility toward black Africans. For some their shops are looted repeatedly and this is done while police is watching; others are refused medical care and end up dying; others have to wait for months to get access to refugee centres and they are denied documentation by the Department of Home Affairs and they end up being deported to their country where they fled because of wars and other dangers.
We call for Migrants &Refugees’ human rights, including their economic, social, cultural, health rights need to be protected, promoted and fulfilled.
- We thank organizers of this summit; this summit has changed us forever. But we agree that we need more education on these topics such as social cohesion and peace building because one afternoon was too short. Nerveless that it was short, it provided us with some beneficial information which will help us to make a contribution at our schools and communities in raising awareness, providing an accurate understanding and knowledge to our families, classmate and communities where we come from; the message we got here need to be held by others as well.
- We demand from political leaders and government that they move urgently to ensure human rights for all who are in the country is respected; we also demand political leaders to desist making speeches that fuel xenophobia and most case Afrophobia.
- We call upon our politicians to address social-economic issues in our communities and stop blaming migrants for our problems of corruption, lack of service delivery.
- We appeal to organizers of this summit that this project be expanded to other schools and townships.
- We have agreed to form a coalition of young learners to promote human rights and social cohesion
- We ask organizers to help us organize events at our schools and communities that promote Ubuntu such as sport with foreign nationals, debate clubs on the issues of migration and cultural events
- We have resolved to use September as a heritage month to start activities that promote Ubuntu and a peaceful march against xenophobia
Thank you to all the schools that participated; New Gate College, Fons Luminis, Sjabulile High School, Eketsnag High School, Vumbeni School, Poneng High School and Phumelela Combined school.
For more Information contact Mr Tebogo Maleke (Africa Unite Human Rights Peer Educator Johanessburg)