Slice Of Life: No country for good men

Last week's anti-immigrant march in Tshwane. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Last week's anti-immigrant march in Tshwane. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

My colleagues are from all over Africa: Ghana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Congo, like me. One day, we were just having a conversation at work, when one of our colleagues – a young South African guy – came up to us and, out of nowhere, said: “You guys… I don’t like you.” When I asked him why, he said: “You come from far and take our jobs.”

  I told him that that if the borders to South Africa allow us to come in, then it is for South Africans to learn something from us; that we have things to offer the country. He just said: “I don’t care about your lesson. What we need is for you to go back where you come from.” I think about that to this day and I feel bad; so, so bad.

I can understand when people feel like they need to protect their country, their women and children – against drugs or whatever. But the hostility is something that is condemnable. To kill someone or hurt them – even if it just with your words – is something that is really condemnable.

I am going to have to leave South Africa soon. At the moment, my wife and children are in Johannesburg. I’m just trying to get enough money together to send them back home to Congo. Even though my children were born here, I think it’s safer for them there.

I saw Thursday how, in Nigeria, people stormed an MTN building because it is a South African company. They did so much damage. And this is what the people here in South Africa who are carrying out these attacks – or planning these anti-black foreigner protests – don’t seem to understand. They don’t see that, because of what they are doing, South Africa has a really bad image across the world and that, sooner or later, all South Africans will be affected. When I saw those images – and of the attacks here – I couldn’t even look at them twice. All of it just breaks my heart.

You know, when my colleague said that thing to us, I was told I could lay a charge against him with the police. But I left it, because this is not my country. What can you do when it is not your country? Nothing. There’s nothing you can do.

Charles Benni Luanda, 45, as told to Carl Collison, the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail&Guardian

Carl Collison

Carl Collison

Carl Collison is the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail & Guardian. He has contributed to a range of local and international publications, covering social justice issues as well as art and is committed to defending and advancing the human rights of the LGBTI community in Southern Africa. Read more from Carl Collison

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