Magazine article New African

Go South My Son. (South Africa)

Magazine article New African

Go South My Son. (South Africa)

Article excerpt

"They are taking our women!" The familiar cry resonates across the land as black South African men rise up in arms against their brothers from up north. Sometimes literally.

Coupled with the idea of foreigners stealing jobs, relationships between foreign men and South African women have led to unprecedented xenophobia in the country.

The advent of democracy in South Africa in 1994 has brought with it an influx of Africans from all over the continent. The most famous immigrants are Nigerians for their sheer aggression, courage, visibility and enterprise, but other nationals are not far behind.

Significant numbers abound, such as Congolese, Zimbabweans, Mozambicans, Ghanaians, Zambians, Tanzanians and Kenyans. In fact every conceivable nation, such that Johannesburg has become known as the "New York of Africa". The majority of the mostly economic migrants are male, leading to the cries of "they are taking our women".

True Love, the South African monthly magazine, fired the opening salvo with the subtitle: "There has been an influx of foreigners to this country over the past few years. Many South Africans resent this, but some home girls find foreign men madly appealing".

Some of the "home girls" say they are tired of the local men. They say the foreigners are better educated, more financially astute, more caring and appreciative. Besides they don't beat women.

The foreign men, on the other hand, find the local women irresistible for their sheer beauty.

One "home girl" recently called the local Metro FM phone-in programme to say: "You know, these South African men don't know how to treat women. They come to your house, drink your wine, bath in your water, relax on your sofa and angrily ask why there is no food in the fridge. After that, they disappear for a month to chase other women. They appear, disappear and reappear for food and sex. And the cycle continues."

There is a ring of truth in it. Male chauvinism is a tradition here. Before one can get married one has to pay a bride price called "lobola" which can run from anything between 10 and 50 cows depending on the bride's various attributes and family background.

These days the cash equivalent is very welcome. As such there is a tendency for women to be seen as commodities. Traditionally the measure of a man is in the number of wives he has. Today it has boiled over into girlfriends.

To rub salt into the wound, True Love describes foreign men as "dark, handsome with full lips that make women go weak at the knees, and [they] are right here at our doorstep ready to serenade and embrace us."

According to the magazine, "corporate women and many local women have opened their hearts and doors to [the foreigners] because they find them different, exciting and exotic, and swear they are more caring, affectionate and steamier than their local counterparts".

Predictably this has raised the ire of the local men who are quick to use the derogatory term "kwerekwere" to describe foreigners at the least provocation. Some encounters often end in violence. Two years ago, three Senegalese men were thrown to their deaths from moving trains by a mob which claimed they had come to steal their jobs and women.

Some of the violence has spilled over into sports. Last year anything Nigerian was fair game after the Nigerian women's team led 2-0 a few minutes to the end of the African women's championship held in Johannesburg. …

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