When white settlers in South Africa (SA) discovered rich minerals and opened farms they that they could not achieve much production or prosperity without bringing “extra” African workers from countries beyond South Africa borders.
They came as far as Malawi. When they found the Malawians workers intelligent hardworking they formed an association of employers called Witwatersrand Native Labour Association which was abbreviate as Wenela. Thousands were recruited annually, so many indeed that in certain villages you could only find women and children.
They recruited not only in Malawi but in Mozambique and as far as Tanzania where they found Nyakyusa labour marvellous. For generations, SA under whitemans rule prospered, welcomed and enticed immigrants. But the regime was oppressive.
When Africa countries attained independence in the early 1960s, they organised campaigns to assist their fellow Africans to achieve independence. Without the support they get from fellow Africans, South Africans would possibly be still under the yoke of the white man. Independent African countries offered asylum to South African freedom fighters, banned imports of SA goods so as to weaken apartheid industries and appealed to other nations in the United Nations (UN) to ostracise apartheid SA. In 1994, sunshine at last shone in SA. The majority voted and elected their president.
When watching BBC Focus on Africa programme I heard the SA High Commission or in London that it was due to the fact that South Africans had not been integrated with the rest of Africa that South Africans are hostile to Africans that not many of them have travelled outside even their States or regions.
One additional reason is that in their schools they may not have been caught the sort of history which could condition then to pan-African brotherhood. The recent outbreak of xenophobia started in Kwazulu Natal allegedly after King Goodwill Zwelithini had made a speech demanding that foreigners should quit his country.
I would ask the King of the Zulus to travel northwards. In Southern Zimbabwe round the city of Bulawayo he will come across people speaking almost identical language to the Zulu language. They are called Ndebele. Let him continue his journey to Northern Malawi where he will find towns with Zulu names. Mzimba and Mzuzu chiefs also have Zulu names such as Mthwako Mabilabe, and so on village and personal names. Ancestors of the people living in Southern Zimbabwe and Northern Malawi had been living in the country nowadays known as Kwazulu Natal. They were Ngoni like Zulu, Zwelithines ancestor Shaka drove them out.
Time may come again when people who regard Kwazulu Natal as their exclusive home may be forced by circumstances to get out and migrate northwards.Will they be received?Will people who have been driven out or their children say, “You chased us what have you to do in our countries?”
There may be civil wars such as generated in Shakas time, but even after expelling foreigners, South Africa may not be able to offer opportunities to all its citizens.
The reason is that the South African economy is ageing, the minerals on which its wealth was founded and exhausted. Recent discoveries of oil and minerals indicate that Mozambique is on the threshold of economic revoulution. Many international observers say if only the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could have a charismatic leader who would achieve permanent peace that country has the potential to become the wealthiest in Africa. It has all the resources that made SA wealthy.
It was being said that SA was Africa’s economics giant. Recently, we have learned that the Nigerian economy is larger. Not only Nigeria but countries north of the Limpopo are realising high gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates whereas South Africans rates are declining.
Both political and economic history tells us that no country has been permanently on top of others. Industrialisation started in Britain was overtaken by Germany and Germany was overtaken by United States of America (USA).The 21st century may well belong to China, India and Japan not the west.
Leaders in SA should warn those that harass and kill fellow Africans that the expelled people could organize boycotts of South African exports such as was the case on Friday April 24 in Blantyre and Lilongwe. Boycotts back then were used to fight apartheid; it can be used to fight xenophobia. Whatever goods other countries import from SA thy can import from other countries. If this happens, the economic difficulties SA is currently experiencing could get worse.
Malawian vendors both men and women almost every week travel to SA to buy goods and sell them at home instead of taking Malawians good to sell there. These people worsen Malawi’s trade balance with SA. What they buy in Johannesburg they can also buy in Dar es Salaam. Why facilitate exports from a country that treats fellow Africans as the Nazis in Germany treated Jews.