I am Malaika Ndabaga and I want to address you on a very important problem of our time; Xenophobia.
A wise man once said, ‘Call a spade by its name, not a big spoon,’ and that is what I am going to do today.
Xenophobia is all attitudes, prejudices and behaviour that reject, exclude and often vilify persons based on the perception that they are outsiders or foreigners to the community or society.
Our brothers and sisters in many African countries, most recently South Africa, carry an inherent hatred for fellow Africans from other countries and have on several occasions turned against them, even killing many.
Many don’t want to recognize the suffering brought to the victims of discrimination and segregation on a daily basis.
Generation after generation, immigrants have been portrayed as criminal, lazy and parasitic.
Truly ignorance has blinded people that they have a dislike and prejudice against people from elsewhere because they fear to acknowledge and embrace the unfamiliar.
This deep-rooted fear towards foreigners has driven many of them to commit despicable acts against their brothers and sisters from other countries, even in Africa where we face the same challenges.
But, why kill a fellow African? Why loot and vandalise property just because it is owned by a foreigner from another African country? Don’t assault, murder, intimidate or even threaten another person simply because they carry a different passport.
The excuses usually given for xenophobia range from the claim that foreigners occupy jobs that would otherwise employ natives, the claim that foreign business owners repatriate huge sums of money out of the country and that many foreigners enjoy better social and economic services than the natives.
There is also a claim that foreigners occupy land that would otherwise house homeless natives.
This is because the foreigners usually have much more money that most natives; and they take good jobs because they have a better set of skills and expertise.
Regardless of our history, differences and backgrounds, we as Africans need to put behind this pointless hatred of our own, and embrace oneness and togetherness.
Africa needs no borders. We are one and should stand together and work hand in hand, share our strengths and fight against our weaknesses on a united front to silence the noise of fear and hatred.
Xenophobia is a virus that needs urgent attention.
It should not eat into our culture of brotherhood and shared values of peace and love!
Thank you and may God bless Rwanda and Africa.
Malaika Ndabaga is a senior four student at Nu Vision High School.