Local celebrities/activists respond to Xenophobia attacks

Following the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa where many people are reported to have been killed while and hundreds forced to flee their homes, there have been pleas from across Africa for the attacks to stop. In Botswana, local celebrities have added their voice to the anti-xenophobia movement.

Singer, songwriter and human rights activist, Lorraine Lionheart expressed; “The explosion in South Africa has been coming for a long time, it did not just happen. I believe xenophobia and other forms of prejudice, injustice and violation of human rights are there in Botswana too. However these barbaric issues only grow over time unless they are dealt with appropriately. Like many people I am saddened and embarrassed by the recent events and I hope and pray that it will awaken all Africans to realize that as much as we blame everything on circumstances and other people, the real enemy is within. What we need to tackle is the rampant self-hate which many are not even conscious about.” She further reiterated a belief that artists, and indeed, everybody else, has the responsibility to make a difference. “I believe anyone can make a difference if they choose to do so, but those privileged artistic skills to communicate in alternative ways such as through music or poetry, or are public figures, have influence. And I beg of them to use it to make a difference,” she said.

Poet Berry Heart, who is also a human rights activist shared a similar sentiment that she was disappointed at the turn out of events in South Africa. She insisted that it was about time that artists from different art forms came up with content that speaks against social ills. “Art is a vital form of advocacy because the voice of the artists is very powerful in disseminating information. The voice of an artist can be heard in all corners of the world. As the shakers and shapers of society, it’s important for us to write songs and poems against xenophobia and even visual artworks. We must post on our social media platforms to rally against such inhumanity,” she said, further pointing out that, “The attacks are unacceptable and barbaric. Our great grand parents taught us the spirit of Botho, what happened and who taught us to hate our brothers and beautiful sisters so much that we choose to burn them to ashes. What is heartbreaking is that these attacks are wrong especially that they were done in front of the pleading eyes of children. What are we teaching them?”

Local hip hop artist, Zeus who was recently interviewed on BBC about his latest album, African Time, expressed that he was now looking at making songs that tackle social ills in Africa. In the BBC interview he said; “It is important for people who are making content today to come up with content that is progressive especially musicians.” His songs from the African Time album such as Passport Stamps and Ma Africa are some of those he said he was using to raise critical issues about  Africa.