Friday, June 13, 2008

Mozambicans leave South Africa after Violence

BBC reports tens of thousands of Mozambicans flee SA

This is such a disturbing story! The last week in May, violence erupted in all over South Africa against foreigners. Not foreign tourists, but the many Africans who have come to SA to work. It would be as if Americans took their anti-immigration sentiments too far and began to burn Mexican families' houses and loot their stores and restaurants. Or even kill.

A large portion of these immigrants are Mozambican. There are also many from Zimbabwe, as that country becomes more and more desperate. I knew Mozambicans who regularly went to South Africa to work in the mines. My host-mother's husband was rarely at home in Boane because he worked in a mine in SA. In the two years I knew this family, I saw the fruits of his labor. Their house slowly filled with better furniture, electricity, a much needed new latrine. The southern part of Mozambique is actually much better developed than the north because of its proximity to SA.

I am disspointed. I always marveled at the cultural connection the Shangaan people of Mozambique felt they shared with the Zulu of South Africa. They shared music, a similar language, an entangled history. But it seems that connection was weaker on the SA end.

The one bright spot on this terrible story is that the Mozambican government has tried to be there for its people. The BBC reports that buses to Maputo were provided for Mozambicans trying to flee SA. They have provided food and shelter in Maputo for those waiting to go home or waiting to see if they can return to SA.

The fact the Thabo Mbeki has taken so long to send in SA's army, or that Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has done nothing to provide for his fleeing citizens, only highlights the fact that Mozambique is truly emerging into a better state.

The June 9th issue of The New Yorker Magazine reports:

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