Fadzayi Mahere statement on Xenophobia attacks

When things were good in Zimbabwe, Malawians, Mozambicans, Zambians and many others came here to settle and find work. They weren’t “stealing our jobs.” They were being productive and making a living.

We did not loot or burn shops where they set them up.

We did not hate them for working on our glorious farms.

We did not stop them from taking advantage of affordable and sometimes free public health and education. Education was for “all” regardless of where one originated from.

We coexisted peacefully in the townships. Neighbour meant neighbour.

We sometimes adapted our language to include our brothers and sisters from across the river, borrowed words and created hybrid communication to include our guests, now family, from afar.

We valued hard work. So when they worked hard, we worked hard too. Hard work by anyone is a badge of honour. The sky is big enough for all birds to fly.

We did not blame them for crime. An educated person knows that crime knows no nationality.

When Zimbabwe fought for liberation, it benefited all blacks, including those who had migrated here.

We did not blame foreigners for “taking our men or our women.” Mugabe married a Ghanaian and it was the most normal thing. Amai Sally is what we called her. We never sent her home. We buried her here. She was one of us because borders are artificial.

We joined hands with South Africa when they were fighting apartheid. We harbored their freedom fighters. We made noise on their behalf on the international stage. Their cause was our cause. Because that’s what black Africans do – they unite against injustice. We don’t impose it on ourselves.

We named our roads after Nkrumah, Mandela and Machel. These are our fathers. We don’t see them as foreigners.

In the circle of life, sometimes you’re an ant facing an elephant, vulnerable and desperate. Sometimes, the elephant dies and is eaten by the ant.

Africa has had a long history of injustice.

We are fighting global battles on many economic and social fronts. Being black in a world of prejudice is not and has never been easy.

Some countries are ahead. Some are behind. Nothing is fixed.

Like Zimbabwe did all those years ago, let’s learn to include fellow Africans in our prosperity.