In February 2013 I wrote this in a column: “We must be intentional about remembering Anene Booysens. For as soon as we forget we cease to act. For my part the following words will be written at the bottom of this column for as long as I am privileged enough to write it: This column is dedicated to the memory of 17 year old Anene Booysens: gang raped, mutilated and murdered.”
And now we remember our Mozambican brother Emmanuel Sithole; beaten with a monkey wrench and stabbed to death. As with Anene Booysens we cannot allow this atrocity – this round of xenophobic attacks – to be forgotten. Xenophobia needs to be addressed and countered on an ongoing basis if we are to stamp it out.
And that begins with you and me. It begins with us dealing with our own prejudices and adopting a zero tolerance stance towards all forms of xenophobia and racism. Yes we have flocked to the assistance of displaced foreigners donating time, money and supplies. But we must now channel some of this energy towards coming up with lasting solutions to xenophobia. In truth we need to move beyond aid.
In order to do this we must begin by not forgetting. As with Anene Booysens, we must memorialise the victims of these horrific acts and ensure that their lives were not lost in vain.
Here are a few practical and simple suggestions for what you and I can do:
- Continue to use your social media platforms to oppose xenophobia. This must be ongoing and consistent. I have put #SayNoToXenophibia on my e-mail signature;
- Send out a weekly message on social media commemorating Emmanuel Sithole and/or all victims of xenophobia;
- If you or your business have some spare cash fund a run of bumper stickers that say something like “Never Forget Emmanuel Sithole” or“#SayNoToXenophobia”. Hand them out to clients, suppliers and the public;
- Use your platforms to speak out against xenophobia; families, classrooms, school halls, boardrooms, the media, social groupings, places of worship;
- If you have an audience – even an audience of one or two – then have conversations about xenophobia. If you have audiences of hundreds or even thousands assemble a core group of thinkers from within your ranks and formulate a strategy to memorialise the victims and counter xenophobia.
Whatever we do lets each do something. For my part I will remember Emmanuel Sithole with Anene Booysens at the end of every column I write.
This column is dedicated to the memory of 17 year old Anene Booysens: gang raped, mutilated and murdered, and our Mozambican brother Emmanuel Sithole: beaten and stabbed to death.