According to Cambridge English Dictionary, a foreigner is a person who comes from another country. That is the term we commonly use to describe on a daily basis people who come across our shores. We differentiate them to us either by race or sometimes regional and linguistic barriers without taking time to understand the tag or the degrading etiquette or the discriminating nature that comes with it. We all know that whoever differentiates by race or regional barriers is either a racist or a xenophobe. They are called names such as immigrant, expatriate, refugee, migrant, outsider, intruder, foreigner, and many other degrading and despicable names according to the purpose or the reasons of their journey while they also have names like Paul, john, Kouassi, Hannah as we do. The Editorial Board of the Guardian on the 02 August 2019 in his editorial titled: Xenophobic attacks in Ghana stated that Nigerians are being maltreated in a neighbouring West African country, Ghana are alarming, especially at a time the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) just joined the rest of Africa and signed a remarkable trade agreement for the continent. They also reported that shops belonging to Nigerians were recently locked up by Ghanaian traders at the popular Opera Square Electronic Market in the central business district of Accra. The angry traders reportedly attacked Nigerian traders and sealed off their shops. But some Nigerian traders were said to have resisted in self-defense, which led to a brawl, before the police took control of the situation.
Have we ever tried to look beyond the tag to see the human being instead of the threat and the fear pictured by those stereotypes?
May be if we look closely and with objectivity, we will see in them a father fighting for his children, a brother fleeing civil war, a sister running away from excision, a mother trying to protect her children and children hoping for better education instead of seeing in them the invaders or the problem of our society. For decade now we have been trying to associate foreigners to woes in our communities and nations to find excuses in order to reject them and cast them away for no proper reasons. It is so easy to put the blame on them for anything going bad because of our own frustration and inability to solve our own problems. We associate them to crimes, unemployment, cause of bad behaviors and for political expediency depending on the circumstances in order to always manipulate others without taking into account the suffering we are inflicting on them and the hatred that befall them after all that. Whenever something is wrong, they are the first to be blamed for, cursed and accused without any proof. All these imply that they are never accepted or considered as full citizenry wherever they find themselves. Many people are using the arguments of fear or threat that foreigners pose to them in order to bully them, but fear is not actually the reason of their actions against foreigners but jealousy. They are jealous of their success and the fact that they thrive. They will rather see them begging than owning shops. What threat those called foreigners are for a country or a community? Abdi Latif Dahir in September 13, 2019 on Quartz Africa titled: These charts show migrants aren’t South Africa’s biggest problem stated that the latest wave of xenophobic attacks is undergirded by the belief that foreigners—mainly migrants from other African countries—are to blame for South Africa’s social and economic woes. And while a significant number of the population hold anti-immigrant views, data shows the country faces bigger challenges than hosting foreign nationals. If foreigners are really powerful to the extent of constituting a threat to a nation or a community, why are they so afraid to speak or to complain or to retaliate whenever they are bullied? Why do we have that much of unemployed among them? Why are they mostly doing odds jobs? Why are they suffering in silence with a heavy heart? Why don’t they feel at home? Why are they hiding? I know some people will ask why they are still around despite all those ill-treatments. I will also answer by asking these: can you live in a country where there is civil war? Can you live in a country where there is famine and starvation or no future? Most of them are left with two choices, either enroll or flee. What will you choose if you were in their shoes?
If one foreigner does something bad, does that mean all the foreigners are bad? Do we have to blame all of them and run insults and curses? Many of them contribute daily to the going forward of nations and some more diligently than natives. When they are spat upon or insulted, don’t they also have the right to defend themselves? Are they not human beings to be given rights and treated fairly? Do they have to remain silent when their shops are closed by people brutalizing them while they hold the required permit to operate? Don’t they have children to cater for or parents to support? Do we think we have more rights than other human beings just because of our race and our regional and linguistic differences? According to the Washington post in the edition of April 13, 2020 titled: Africans in China allege racism as fear of new virus cases unleashes xenophobia stated that Africans living in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou have been evicted from their apartments and refused entry to restaurants. Why do we feel more humans than others? Never forget that we all have relatives abroad somewhere that might go through that same treatment. Never forget that anything might happen to our country that forces us to leave and be in that same position. Let’s be human. Let’s be tolerant and courageous to accept others and fight for what is right. Your fight today could save people tomorrow. Say no to racism and xenophobic attitude in our society. Let’s rise above petit sentiments. Take a stand now.
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By Denis Bricen