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Animo-Cities: Trouble in places of animosity

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A man holds a brick near the hostels in the Jeppestown area of Johannesburg where clashes broke out / Mujahid Safodien /AFP

When the following relatives of Animosity live in the same place Trouble cannot be far from there. Acrimony, Animus, Antagonism, Antiparty, Bad Blood, Bittterness, Displeasure, Enmity, Hate, Hostility, Illwill, Malevolence, Malice, Malignity, Rancor, Resentment, and Virulence all live together but they struggle alone. Their only neighbours kept at arm’s length are Goodwill and Love. Both are minorities in the community and they are not allowed to influence the community.

It is as Orunmila Baba Ifa says: He who hoards is hurt never gets its balm. Those who happen on the same idea of the need for mutual help and cooperation in facing human challenges would recite the following more verbose statement:

First they came for the Socialist, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Nionists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no One left to speak for me.

The above was written by Martin Niemoller (1892-1984) “a Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in Germany in concentration camps.”

We call up these two wise recitations to call attention to the mutual destruction that is killing the people of South Africa who refuse to hang together, preferring to hang alone. Like other African and world communities. All those communities who keep goodwill and love at arm’s length. The occasion for this has to do with what is generally called “farm killings”. They have to do, in the first place, with the killing of white farmers by black criminals. They have to do, in the second place, with the death of black farm workers on white farms.

Responding to the concern of SA Agricultural Union (union for who work in agriculture in South Africa at the time) in 1998, President Nelson Mandela called a summit on Rural Safety. At the summit, President Mandela said: “Beyond the immediate human suffering, lack of security and stability in our rural and farming community causes serious disruption to our economy.”

Since that date farm killings have multiplied and in the first two months of this year 2017, farm killings have gone up beyond what it was before. Now, different separate organisations are confronting it alone through their own selfish interpretation of what it is, how it is, and how to deal with it. The loudest of the groups are the white farmers. They are represented by the Transvaal Agricultural Union, a name that hacks back to the heyday of the Afrikaner republic before the Boer war of 1900 to1910. They are also represented by Afriforum, a wholly Afrikaner organisation. They are represented by Freedom Front Plus, a wholly Afrikaner political party with representatives in parliament.

The African Farmers Association of South Africa which represents black farmers insists that there has always been violence against farmers and farm workers in South Africa. The Union was not only concerned about farm murders but also bothered by stock theft, vandalism of farm property and the removal of irrigation systems. Another organisation representing black people is Black First Land First and it insists that black people are murdered on farms. It is said that 38.4% farm attack victims are black, coloured and Asian people.

Arbitrating the farm murders problem are South African Human Rights Commission, Africa Check a fact checking website, and Institute for Security Studies. There is lastly the South African government. Out of these organisations come the statistics that while murders across the country is 34 per 100,000 persons, among farmers it is 97 per 100,000 persons. In comparison with another vulnerable group policemen and policewomen the murder rate is 52 per 100,000.

Explanation for farm murders? Depending on which group you talk to, you get explanations which work for each group. Afriforum and others insist that it is a genocide against white people of South Africa. Black organisations insist it is just like any crime in the society, no different. Some of the black organisations concede that farms are easy targets because they are isolated. They are also considered easy sources of ammunition by criminals. When the brutality that accompanies these murders, people are reminded that crime in the country is accompanied with unnecessary violence. But then there is the little matter of the whites thinking that they are still in charge of things. This continued condescension to black people annoys the black criminals. Hence the extra violence that attends crimes against whites.

Everybody acknowledge the absence of police and other security guarantees in the rural and farming communities. The white organisations work through Facebook and other social media to trade information and intelligence, pool ideas and organise resources for dealing with farm murders. They organise training for white farmers. The Freedom Front Plus wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly at the end of February asking that a debate be set up for farm murders. The speaker replied to the effect that although violence against farmers and farm workers were to be regretted, the subject did not merit a whole debate in parliament.

For these white groups, this demonstrates that the South African government does not only not care about genocide against South African whites, it was also encouraging it by not providing greater and better security in the rural and farming communities. The government denies this accusation.

Let’s go back to Orunmila Baba Ifa. The story of Kan-Kan, aka Mr. Everything by Force goes thus: Kan-Kan invited his neighbours to help on his farm. Deliberately or otherwise, Kan-Kan invited the food chain to his farm: hen and wolf, dog and hyena, hunter and antelope, walking stick and fire, rain and drought.

Who will calm the nerves, provide the balm to soothe each desire? He invited dew drops at last.
Doing things has ruined the world today,
Dew Drops, come and make repairs.
Dew Drops, come and make amends.


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Xenophobic Attacks
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