Saturday, May 24, 2008

SA Bloggers Make BBC News on Xenophobia, but it's really looting, perhaps the start of a revolution, and a growing trend worldwide

What do South Africans think about what is happening in their country? One of the best ways to assess public sentiment on a large unfolding event is simply to look at what ordinary folk are saying on their blogs. This happened during the UFS racist videos, and now with the world's eyes on SA's Xenophobia, people want to know what is going on in ordinary South African's hearts and minds.

While a reporter can go to the trouble to visit the country with a camera and document what is happening, blogs are already there, embedded, reporting for free - free to air. It's already written, with opinions, concerns and insights freely offered, sometimes even accompanied by photos (and if you're lucky, video), and best of all, it's searchable. What more could you want?

BBC article: SA bloggers want end to violence

Well, having looked at the article it comes across touchy feely. Because the correct assessment (and even the news media fail to see this) is that the cause of the xenophobia/violence is the sudden onset of worsening prospects for the poor. Xenophobia itself is just a symptom of the underlying cause - the increasing fury and frustrations of the poor, which is clearly linked to South Africa's worsening economic prospects. And the implications are obvious and dire: with fuel prices increasing the xenophobia/violence will increase in lock-step with these pressures, meaning, it is going to spread. And it is spreading. Blaming is going to become the new hobby for hordes of people, but really, the high energy prices are a fact of life, and casting blame is really beside the point. It's reality.

This article, by Chris Moerdyk, is excellent: South Africa: Communications Chaos Over Xenophobia Crisis although Moerdyk also seems convinced that the cause is racist xenophobia, with no underlying driving force: The worst was a provincial MEC for safety and security, whose name I cannot remember but who wore a garish, shiny suit and pork-pie hat and calmly stood in the chaos and bodies with a smile on his face, claiming that there was nothing xenophobic about all the bloodshed. Obviously there is xenophobia involved, but as I say, it's merely an instrument to activate the poor and get them out there looting. We've already seen South Africans become targets, and unfortunately, that may well continue. What is the word for have-nots attacking haves? Looting? Revolution? Think that's far fetched?

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said the violence reflected growing global tensions.

"The underlying factor is basically poverty," he said. "We are witnessing an increase in the number and intensity of crisis that generate displacement around the world. We are very worried."

More News Analysis: What is behind xenophobia in S. Africa

No comments: