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South Africa

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The year of the monkey

Versione italiana     The rules are now set and the game has become boringly predictable. Late in the night – generally between Thursday and Saturday – a white person of some repute, whom many, including blacks, had previously thought to be a more or less decent human being, suddenly loses it and goes hysterical. Hidden behind an open screen, and more often than not under the spell of some intoxicating substance, he or she records on Facebook, Twitter or any other available digital media platform an idiotic, repugnant and disjointed set of utterances. Most of these are often lifted almost verbatim from some of the crudest dictionaries of colonial racism. The coming out of closeted racists often takes the form of an exercise in vulgarity. This entails hurling profanities at black South Africans – or Africans whose humanity is thus put on trial and, as in the most recent past, thoroughly debased. This form of nano-techno-digital lynching is often indiscriminate and usually followed by all manner of apoplectic indignation. The dust usually settles once a reluctant apology has been extracted from the formerly disguised racist. But deep down, the...

Xenophobia in South Africa

Here the column's introduction: Why Africa?     Versione italiana     “Afrophobia”? “Xenophobia”? “Black on black racism”? A “darker” as you can get hacking a “foreigner” under the pretext of his being too dark—self hate par excellence? Of course all of that at once! Yesterday I asked a taxi driver: «why do they need to kill these “foreigners” in this manner?». His response: «because under Apartheid, fire was the only weapon we Blacks had. We did not have ammunitions, guns and the likes. With fire we could make petrol bombs and throw them at the enemy from a safe distance». Today there is no need for distance any longer. To kill “these foreigners”, we need to be as close as possible to their body which we then set in flames or dissect, each blow opening a huge wound that can never be healed. Or if it is healed at all, it must leave on “these foreigners” the kinds of scars that can never be erased.   Kudzanai Chiurai, Iyeza, 2012, (detail), video still, Courtesy of the artist and the Goodman Gallery   I was...