We, the Archbishop Tutu Fellows, unequivocally condemn the Afrophobic violence that has erupted in different places in South Africa. We condemn these episodes of violence as much as we condemn the violence experienced by the students and people of Garissa, Kenya; as much as we condemn the violent abduction of the girls in Chibok, Nigeria over a year ago; as much as we condemn war-related rape towards women in different war-torn parts of Africa; and as much as we condemn the violence into which young children are forced to become child soldiers.
The occurrence of hate-fuelled violence by Africans against their fellow Africans has to stop. Like Nelson Mandela, we dream of an Africa which is at peace with itself.
The Tutu Fellows are young African leaders from over 30 African countries and all regions of Africa. We are certain that violence only begets more violence. It does not resolve anything but instead it creates disparate and broken communities and destroys our humanity. We also understand that people often resort to violence when they feel voiceless and powerless to address the stripping of their own dignity by poverty. However, violence should never, and will never, be the answer. “Umunthu ngumuntu ngabantu” - I am what I am because of who we all are. We are Africans.
We Africans are diverse. We come from many different tribes, ethnicities, religions, cultures, and linguistic backgrounds, yet we have so much in common. Our values, beliefs and sense of community are so similar right across the continent. This web of similarities should be the foundation on which we build a united community of Africa that transcends borders. Our diversity should fuel our innovation and creativity to build inclusive economies on a common understanding of who we are and what binds us together.
As Tutu Fellows, we commit to work together in our various capacities as leaders on the continent to build government and political systems that are inclusive, representative and responsive to the needs of our people. The socio-economic conditions fuelling the violence in South Africa are the same for most Africans across the continent: poverty and a lack of opportunities are dehumanizing our people. We now have to build economies that empower our people to rise above endemic poverty. As evidenced by the backlash in various countries towards the attacks on immigrants in South Africa, African economies are interconnected. This socio-economic interconnectedness needs to grow and create a continental economy that benefits every citizen of our beautiful continent.
We, young leaders of Africa, who subscribe to the values espoused by Archbishop Tutu, call upon all Africans to recognise the need to reignite the spirit of pan-Africanism started by our forefathers, and fulfill our duty to enhance and defend the freedoms of all Africans - economic freedom, political freedom and social freedom. We need to fully accept and honour our responsibilities of citizenship and continuously hold governments accountable in ending the cycle of poverty across the continent. We once again call for the end to all violence and call for resolution of conflict through dialogue and negotiation. We commit ourselves towards convening and participating in solution-oriented dialogue that will help prevent future xenophobic attacks. Such dialogues should aim to:
- Address issues such as reconciliation of the different communities post conflict;
- Establish re-integration strategies;
- Develop clear migration policies;
- Teach our shared liberation history;
- Reinforce the story of South Africa as part of the continent’s story and her various liberation and development struggles;
- Address the socio-economic needs of our people; and
- Develop strategies for dealing with systemic corruption.
As Africans and South Africans, in particular, we are still emerging from colonial systems of domination and oppression and need not recreate them amongst ourselves towards each other. We need to break these patterns of thinking and foster a culture of tolerance, unity and Ubuntu.
Nkosi Sikelela iAfrika, God bless Africa!