Opinion

Was it really xenophobia or lack of jobs?

By Ngor Khot Garang

The media should be careful with the way it delivers information to the general public. Yesterday, I came across a story where some of the youth in one of the states attacked their fellow brothers over the fear that their jobs were being taken by people from other states of South Sudan.

This was very pathetic and it shows that our youth are very desperate. This was very discouraging but we cannot compare it with South Africa. Xenophobia is a very powerful word and it is not applicable here, let us talk of the fear brought by the widespread unemployment.

When the xenophobic violence in South Africa occurred, the victims were not only foreigners in the sense of a different nationality are attacked but in fact everybody not belonging to the dominant ethnic groups in the main cities, Zulu or Xhosa, was attacked.

Members of smaller ethnic groups in South Africa were also viewed as foreigners by fellow South Africans. White people were not viewed as foreigners in the context of xenophobic violence. There had been attacks on South Africans who ‘looked foreign’ because they were ‘too dark’ to be South African.

Reasons for the attacks differ, with some blaming the contestation for scarce resources, others attribute it to the country’s violent past, inadequate service delivery and the influence of micro politics in townships, involvement and complicity of local authority members in contractor conflicts for economic and political reasons, failure of early warning and prevention mechanisms regarding community-based violence; and also local residents claims that foreigners took jobs opportunities away from local South Africans and they accept lower wages, foreigners do not participate in the struggle for better wages and working conditions. Other local South Africans claim that foreigners were criminals, and they should not have access to services and police protection. Foreigners were also blamed for their businesses that take away customers from local residents and the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Other South African locals do not particularly like the presence of refugees, asylum-seekers or useless businessmen who would not contribute to the development of South Africa in one way or the other.

The South African story was really bad because it has tarnished the image of the rainbow nation. However, they were rights to express their feelings against foreign nationals but violence was a wrong choice. They would have held the government accountable for every misdeed.

The corruption and unfair distribution of resources is the work of the government not foreign nationals. This is the time we put aside this madness of classifying South Sudanese and we work together for a better South Sudan.The incident where South Sudanese attacked their fellow brothers wasn’t xenophobic, it was a trauma resulting from lack of jobs and it is not new, it is everywhere in South Sudan. If all the South Sudanese were to rise up together against all the foreign nationals to demand their shadowed dignity back, that would be xenophobia. But we don’t encourage that. South Sudanese regardless of where they come are not foreigners and they should be treated with love and respect.

I don’t have to be an Equatorian to work in Equatoria, every South Sudanese is free to contribute to the development of his or her country anywhere they want but the problem is that we don’t have enough jobs and this is not anyone’s fault.

We have every right to blame the government in this regard. We have resources and that is a blessing for this country. When these resources were exploited and used for the greater good of every South Sudanese, they would have created jobs for everyone and nobody would ever hate anyone. But this money goes to individual pockets and even worse in the stomachs of those who don’t get satisfied.

You know human beings?We are very funny creatures, even the peace that has been mediated for years without success can be an easy thing if we are given equal opportunities. Nobody would even mind of hating or killing another but when there is widespread corruption and tribalism in the country, trust me this is where there are a lot of problems.

The government has spent millions of dollars over the years without success for a peace that will never come. What could be the reason behind? It is this, if you don’t value people and involve them in the decision making process, it means they are not important and when they see that they are not important, they will begin to be violence.

In South Sudan, millions of people are very poor. These people don’t want drama, they want better services and when these people continue to live in abject poverty, chances are they are only going to think about killings and nothing more. So if I say that for peace to prevail in this country, it is a matter of better service delivery that would be the wise thing to do, not mediation.

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