South Africans are now pushing their luck too far

We the people of Zambia have been saddened by the continued attacks on our fellow citizens by you, South Africans. This week, one Zambian narrowly escaped death in your country after protesters hacked him in the head. We saw a video where a foreigner was being burnt alive and you, South Africans, were cheering and laughing at the death of your brother. What kind of hearts do you people have? Even dogs never treat each other like that, no matter how aggrieved they may be.

Things have gotten so bad that our government, out of desperation to protect Zambians in your country, has banned the movement of buses and trucks there because the happenings in your country are so devastating. What is worse is that this is not the first time; you have made killing a hobby now. Is this a way to thank those who liberated you? This ingratitude needs to be addressed.

We understand your anger and frustrations, but we are certainly not the cause of your problems. We all have leadership challenges, but Xenophobia will have long social and economic consequences on your country if you don’t stop it already. Where has this hate come from, because from our point of view, South Africa is Zambia’s closest neighbour? It is closer than Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana or any of the geographically adjacent countries.

There are several reasons why this is so. Economically, according to the World’s Top Export index, South Africa is Zambia’s biggest trading partner on the continent and among the top five in the whole world. In terms of human interaction, there is no country in the world with more scheduled passenger flights landing and taking off from Zambia than what we have with South Africa.

Even without the flights, which only the affluent businessmen and politicians can afford, a majority of us Zambians love to come to South Africa by bus for many reasons. Sometimes we don’t actually have any viable reasons, but we just come to do shopping because your country is the Europe that we can afford to visit by bus. The skyscrapers in your Johannesburg are the fantasy of our Lusaka.

But that does not make us a worthless people deserving the treatment that you continue to give our truck drivers and other travellers. We may not have good politicians leading us; we may not be accruing any meaningful revenue from our natural resources because of bad governance; we may not be able to host the World Cup in the next 50 years because we have no adequate infrastructure. But we are among the world’s top five richest countries because we consider love as the strongest currency on earth.

We the people of Zambia have big hearts and it is never in our nature to target foreigners when our economy takes away the little that we have. In your country, a visitor can’t ask for directions from a stranger because that is putting your life in danger. In our country we treat foreigners, especially whites, with preferential care. We can’t even explain that complex, but that’s just who we are.

Even the jobs that you are crying for, we do employ a lot of foreigners ourselves. Those trucks you are burning down may have been coming from Zambia but there is a good chance that they were being driven by non-Zambians; who may well be South African. In fact, the trucks may actually be Zambian-registered but owned by foreigners.

That is how big our hearts are. We have Chinese coming into our country, getting our land; illegal immigrants taking away our small businesses, but we let government authorities deal with them. They shoot our brothers who are labourers in the mines, but not one day have we attempted to revenge by killing these foreigners.

You may call it stupidity, but we call it love because since 1964, our founding president Dr Kenneth Kaunda has been preaching to us “Love your neighbour as much as you love yourself; do unto others what you would want them do unto you”, in line with biblical principles. That is the spirit in which we put aside our own economic hardships to aid you, our beloved South Africans, in achieving your desperately desired political emancipation. We liberated you, we gave you shelter, we contributed to your protests against white supremacy in your country! You owe your Independence from the Apartheid regime to us! Don’t you ever forget that!

We are not claiming to be perfect. We also have our own violent Zambians whom we are tirelessly trying to reason with. Of course, they are not as prosperous as your violence-mongers who can afford petrol to waste. Ours use pangas because even paraffin is too expensive here in Zambia. But nevertheless, their medieval style of violence does not specifically target foreigners. That is why it pains us to see you hack and burn our citizens as if there are no South Africans living abroad.

Don’t look down on your fellow Africans. Abash the self-hate! Don’t forget that without bilateral and multilateral trade with other African nations, your South Africa is nothing! So, stop this animal behavior before the rest of Africa turns against you, because you have now pushed your luck too far. And please, learn your history! Styopeti!

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