Waterford Kamhlaba has made a united front on the current xenophobic attacks in South Africa and our response is NO! No to the acts of violence that represent clear disregard of human life, no to the discrimination of the African people amongst one another and perhaps most distinctly no to the fact that there was little that we as a college could do to address the problem.
The Amnesty International group formulated a core group of campus students that would focus on the Anti- Xenophobia movement. This initiative was led by Vivian Ojo a Waterford National Committee student from Namibia. It was her trip to Johannesburg in April that open her eyes to the truly inhumane acts that were occurring literally right next door. “I believe that anyone can speak of the spirit and the ethos of a United World College but the true challenge arises when one must step outside the open minded and culturally accepting community of a United World College to the wider world which unfortunately is not as accepting and still remain firm in the belief of the idea and possibility of unity in diversity.”, said Vivian. It is this challenge that students in this region face and it was in the spirit of becoming an effecter outside the United World College that the group implemented the movement.
The XeNOphobia movement was launched at the Waterford Kamhlaba Fete. The group manned a shack that would represent the plight faced by the recently displaced foreigners in South Africa. The stall contained articles and comments both globally and contextually concerning the xenophobic attacks and perhaps more importantly concerning the underlying or brewing reasons for the surfacing of what may appear a spontaneous revolt. There were also quizzes and pointers involving the Seven Simple things ‘you’ can do to be the change against xenophobia. It was at this stall that the Anti-xenophobia linked chain was formed and it has since grown. The chain is a paper chain of black and white paper strips that each have messages inscribed on them that have the names and ages of those who have donated at least 50 cents to the cause. The money that the school has raised has been used directly to buy blankets for the many foreigners who have been sheltering themselves in local police station since the attacks spiraled out of control. Waterford Kamhlaba is calling on her
sister United World Colleges to join her in the building of the anti-xenophobia link chain in their colleges so as to expand this gesture of solidarity to the victims of xenophobic acts to one that includes the entire United World College Movement. The information about the chain and its aims can also be found on the Facebook group against xenophobia started for all United World College supporters to join.
Over the past few months the actual attacks have halted but there remains of great distrust, uncertainty and general unease in the region and what is most disconcerting about xenophobia is that it is too evident a reminder of the harshest era of South African history about 15 years ago under the Apartheid regime. A memory so bitter that even the scent of it is enough to arouse great concern in South Africa as well as in the entire Southern African region. This incident though not having spread into the Swaziland borders is indeed too close to home.
– United World College Student Magazine –