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Afrophobia in Azania: What’s the word?

We must welcome our brothers and sisters from every corner of Africa. This increasingly Pan-African climate must be used to call for one socialist Africa and the total destruction of settler capita…

Jan 5th 2020 · 6 min read
Afrophobia in Azania: What’s the word?

by Nidamu Khuthaza

“Tell me, brother, have you heard from Johannesburg?

“Sister woman have you heard from Johannesburg? … We don’t

know for sure because the news we get is unreliable, man … They may not get the

news but they need to know we’re on their side. Now sometimes distance brings

misunderstanding, but deep in my heart I’m demanding: Somebody tell me what’s

the word.”

The hit song “What’s the Word?” by the late, great lyricist,

poet and conscious artist Brother Gil Scott Heron is just as relevant today as

it was when it was written decades ago.

All that has been in the news this month from Azania (South

Africa) have been stories about Africans (apparently those born in the

country), attacking African “immigrants” (those born outside of Azania, perhaps

from Nigeria, Somalia, Zimbabwe etc.).

And in the mainstream and not so “mainstream” media, these

confrontations have been described as “xenophobia” and/or “Afro-phobia.” Of

course, we know that the term “phobia” is defined as an extreme or irrational

fear of or aversion to something.

What is the real

cause of the unrest?

The only thing causing “fear” is that which causes “fear”

amongst all working-class people: the inability to sell their labor in order to

survive! Unemployment and the lack of meaningful work create both fear and

anger. In the past 10 years, unemployment in South Africa has increased from

21.5 percent to 29 percent. This is the official rate!

Undercounted youth and foreign workers make the real

unemployment numbers even higher. The official youth unemployment rate is

higher than 56 percent. All this is a ticking time bomb of frustration, anger

and fear, not fear of other Africans, but fear of hunger, fear of homelessness,

fear of the inability to provide for one’s children. There’s also the constant

fear of being dispossessed by the outside corporate interests that continually

enrich Europe and the USA, while leaving African people largely dependent and


The Africans born in Azania (South Africa) live in a society

that, like all capitalist societies, cannot and never will offer its working

classes the opportunity to live a dignified life, free of oppression,

homelessness, hunger and dislocations. However, capitalism will never accept

the blame for unemployment and inequality. Instead it blames the victim,

telling people that unemployment is their fault or the fault of their neighbor,

the other “tribe,” the other nationals. This in turn has led to increasing

violence in townships and poor communities.

One poor community in Cape Town saw 361 murders per 100

thousand people, while the richer community of Rosebank experienced eight

murders per 100 thousand people over the same four-year period. This and other

evidence clearly links unemployment and inequality to violence.

As in communities all over the world, the frustration of

unemployment has fueled the inflow of drugs. Nyaope (a mixture of heroin,

tobacco and marijuana) is epidemic in poor inner-city communities across the

country. Drug addiction intensifies despair, further fueling crime and


Who is the real enemy?

The sisters and brothers in Azania, consequently, don’t have

a certain level of class-consciousness about who their real enemy is: the

neo-colonial government which continues to protect the interests of what some

have called White Monopoly Capital. It is true that the descendants of European

settlers along with Europeans still in Europe control the businesses,

industries, banks and monies that flow through the country.

This handful of predominantly white men is the capitalist

class and they, with the support and complicity of their African collaborators

decide the future of the masses of Africans. These capitalists control the

land, jobs and money and use this control to increase their wealth, increasing

the inequality across occupied Azania.

It is unfortunate that through their control of media and

education they confuse the majority of people. Most people are blind to the

fact that capitalism is the source of their oppression, despair, anger,

frustration and fears.

European settlers

still control Azania’s resources!

At the end of apartheid, European settlers and their

descendants owned 85 percent of agricultural lands. The nearly three decades

since the end of apartheid has seen little change in the lives of African

people, with 70 percent of the land still in the hands of the European settlers

who arrived on the shores of Azania in 1652. Why is change so slow?

Rampant corruption!

The current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who is now a

BILLIONAIRE, was, before the end of the Apartheid regime, simply a union

leader. This level of opportunism and corruption is rampant, not only in

Azania, but throughout the African continent.

We call it properly neocolonialism, the last stage of

imperialism. Over 50 years ago, Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana,

which gained independence in 1957, detailed the operation of neocolonialism in

a book by the same title. The economics of newly independent countries were

still controlled by the corporate, industrial and banking interests that took

root during colonialism.

This new colonialism continued to operate with the collusion

of local leaders that choose individual wealth over the interest of the masses

of the country.

In search of a better


Of course, we cannot overlook the REASON WHY Africans from

Nigeria, Somalia and other African countries have “migrated” to Azania. The

same conditions which have driven the residents of El Salvador, Honduras,

Guatemala and other Central and South American countries to seek a better life

in the US prevail in African countries – CAPITALIST EXPLOITATION, in all its

many forms.

An example is the Western capitalist financial blockade of

Zimbabwe. The resulting economic disruption is the direct reason millions of

Africans crossed the Limpopo River from Zimbabwe into Azania.

The US military destruction of Somalia has made life unbearable

for millions. So, there should be no surprise when Somalis migrate and set up

shops in townships in Azania.

We must welcome our brothers and sisters from every corner

of Africa. This increasingly Pan-African climate must be used to call for one socialist

Africa and the total destruction of settler capitalism and neo-colonialism.

Brother Gil Scott Heron’s song ends by saying, “Freedom ain’t

nothing but a word, ain’t nothing but a word,” but the destruction of

capitalism and neo-colonialism and the forward movement of Pan-Africanism will

make freedom a reality for Africa and the world – more than just a “word”!

Nidamu Khuthaza can be

reached at

last updated: 2020-01-05@11:01