Saturday, February 25, 2017



Xenophobia of recent has been trending both on the social media and over the conventional media. It is no longer news as we heard in South Africa Xenophobia is ongoing. This has made the word so popular but I am not sure everybody knows what it means. Most at times when something of this nature happens, people get carried away by the euphoria and hardly can contemplate on the meaning.

Xenophobia comes from the Ancient Greek word (Xenos), meaning “Strange”, “Foreigner”, and (Phobos), meaning “Fear”.
According to Oxford Dictionary, Xenophobia means “deep rooted fear towards foreigners” and the fear of the “Unfamiliar”. Aside all these definitions, there is another angle to it. According to a scholar, Andreas Wimmer, It is an element of a political struggle about who has the right to be cared for by the state and society. According to Wikipedia. In other words, Xenophobia arises when people feel that their entitlement to benefit from the government is being subverted by other people’s rights (Wikipedia).

While writing on this topic, I had desired to probe into the history, how it all started and how we got to where we are. This is not an attempt to go deep into the history nor to rewrite the history but to give a brief background of it. I was able to trace this to Ancient Greek denigration of foreigners as “Barbarians” (Wikipedia). Xenophobia as it were is happening everywhere even though people might not know that they are practicing it. In the case of the Greek, they believed to be superior beings and their culture superior than others: which means all other people are inferior to them and what that means is, they are only good for slaves. Xenophobia sponsors and breeds hatred for others. A lot of people often mix xenophobia with racism: We must not confuse the words because in the case of xenophobia, you can hate someone from a foreign country yet have the same race. A typical example is that of South Africa: The perceived ‘Foreigners’ they are attacking are Africans, their brothers! This cannot be racism.
There was a speech credited to Manius Acilius in which he said, “There, as you know, there were Macedonians and Thracians and Illyrians, all most warlike nations, here Syrians and Asiatic Greeks, the most worthless people among mankind and born for slavery.” This is the worst form of denigration of human race.

Xenophobic Attacks
Xenophobic attacks starts when a leader speaks against others in a denigrated manner as we have stated above. There is no way a leader will speak out in a manner that Andreas Wimmer spoke and would not spark xenophobic attacks against such people. The Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini Kabhakuzulu in April 2015 in 20th precisely said that, “Migrants should pack their bags and leave.” according to Wikipedia. That word that looked ordinary caused the death of about 7 people and causing the displacement of over 2000 foreigners. He is still there as the king of that land, no investigation have been heard and no prosecution.

The sole aim of this article is to bring to fore what xenophobia is to make people understand because understanding is what will help us to deal with it better.

This is happening virtually everywhere, you can see nations enacting laws to disfavor foreigners in order to allegedly to put their nationals to gain upper hand in fear of subjugation. It has happened in so many places - Asia, Malaysia, Africa, and Germany to mention a few. Currently, the US is battling with this menace where The President signs executive orders over illegal immigrants and other such laws that attracted wide protests across America and beyond. What I mean here is that Xenophobia is often attached to one particular situation but it is not the case; it is a lot more than that. Xenophobia can occur within a country or state depending on the situation. In Nigeria for example, there is the growing animosity between ethnic groups and religious groups. All these can be a sort of xenophobia. Anything that is foreign to you and you have phobia for is called xenophobia. We have issues like indigene – settler crisis going on from state to state; all these constitute what is known as xenophobia as the case may be.

Caleb Zadok

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