Tuesday, September 14

Welcome Them

I’ve been dreaming about a country that represent the best of Africa. Where Africans and the rest of the world dream to live and are welcomed when they come. It’s almost like South Africa, just slightly different. Its a South Africa where there is no control over who wants to live here and who does not.

It is a dream that seems almost impossible to imagine. Open the Gates? Let everyone who wants to come in? I’ve been told it is madness. That I’m a fool. We'll be flooded with people before the end of the decade! 200 hundred million Africans will stream to South Africa! Crime will rocket to levels even we cant imagine! South Africa will be a French speaking country in the next generation! (Now that’s scary!)

Xenophobia. Plain and simple.

If a person feels strongly enough and has hope that his future will be better in South Africa, why should we not welcome them? These are the people that make a community strong. The people with the drive to make this country even greater. Keep them out? Why? To protect the jobs that we don’t have? To stop the crime we cant control? To protect cultures that have already survived centuries of conflict? Fluff! Not that we can stop them coming anyway. There are millions of people living and working in South Africa illegally. These are the people that will not be stopped.

There are good reasons to let them come. Economics isn’t a zero sum game. If there is a winner it doesn’t imply that there is should be a loser. Immigrants bring drive and zest to a country. They create work, they create riches, they create solutions and finally their success makes us all more successful. South Africa at its heart is an immigrant country. We all arrived late to the party (some later than others granted). And like all immigrant countries we are stronger for it. Immigrants can create the wealth that we are going to need to achieve our dreams.

200 million people in South Africa? Is that likely? No. Most people wont immigrate. Most people will stay where they are, because rather the evil you know than the evil you don’t. Immigrants are a rare breed. If the borders are opened there will be no line of people up to Dar Es Salaam waiting to get in. (Refugees are another story entirely. But refugees should be welcomed in any case, and they hope to return some day).

Crime? Are immigrants automatically criminals? Of course not. Immigrants become criminals when society refuses to let them integrate with their new society. When society makes it illegal for them to work. Laws that force them to become criminals cause crime. Not that their are not plenty of criminals among immigrants, but their are plenty of criminals among any group of people. Our current system only makes it more likely that immigrants will become criminals.

Our laws currently are only making the success of the people that have decided they will come here less likely, and their lives more miserable. Our actions are self-defeating. The streets of my community are filled with the failures of our society. The people that have no hope and have no reason for hope. Next to these people are the young people from Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Ghana, Cameroon and Sudan. They are here illegally. Many of them have suffered to be here. The difference is the hope in their eyes and the spring in their step. They are alive and they are going somewhere, and if anyone can help the people who has lost their hope it is these people.

Fear them? We should celebrate that they want to come.


Blogger Bronwyn said...

Nice post, I agree wholeheartedly, besides immigrants usually work twice as hard as normal citizens because they are so grateful to be working, plus they bring interesting culture to society, if you are brave enough to venture into Yeoville, and I am going to one of these days, you can eat at a Congolese restaurant and try out cuisine from different parts of Africa

14 September 2004 at 16:04  
Blogger Mshairi said...

Stand up and take a bow. Most migrants seek a better life and are willing to work as hard as possible to achieve this. In the UK, migrants do the work that nobody else wants. The age crisis also means that there are fewer younger people to do the work. They migrants know this, the government knows this, but is unwilling to acknowledge it.

14 September 2004 at 16:58  
Blogger Rethabile said...

That's right. Americans had all kinds of input from new arrivals, and they grew strong. Many European countries, including France, are teeming with immigrants. These new folks bring with them muscle and grey matter, and cuisine and culture, and what have you. And the new country grows strong.

14 September 2004 at 21:48  
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