Saturday, July 05, 2008

Dear Mr President

Dear Mr President

You are reported to have said the following:
THE attacks on foreigners in the “dark days” of May were not xenophobia, but “naked criminal activity. What happened during those days was not inspired by possessed nationalism, or extreme chauvinism, resulting in our communities violently expressing the hitherto unknown sentiments of mass and mindless hatred of foreigners – xenophobia.”
“I heard it said insistently that my people have turned or become xenophobic … I wondered what the accusers knew about my people which I did not know. And this I must also say: None in our society has any right to encourage or incite xenophobia by trying to explain naked criminal activity by cloaking it in the garb of xenophobia.”

Mr President – you are wrong. I have housed 30 Zimbabwean people who fled from their attackers. And every one of them told the same story: that they were attacked for being foreigners. They experienced this as a “mass and mindless hatred” .

Mr President, you “wonder what the accusers knew about my people which I did not know”. But then, Mr President, had you taken the trouble to personally visit these people you might have reached a different conclusion. You might have learned that your people (my people) are capable of racism, chauvinism, sexism.... and xenophobia. It is extremely difficult to know what our people are thinking and doing when your only contact with your country is through the darkened windscreen of a luxury car in a speeding convoy.

Mr President: You used to live amongst the people. But your speech shows that you have left us for another world. I pray that you might return to us.

Pete Grassow

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