We helped South Africans. Why won’t they help us?

South Africa has a long history of movement of labour within the country and within the region. Have we forgotten that workers from Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland risked their lives to mine the minerals that built our country’s economy?
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To that I would like to add the fact that when our brothers in South Africa were in need, we were there for them. My country welcomed many refugees from South Africa fleeing Apartheid, especially after the June 16 events.

On top of that, our countries, “the Frontline States,” (1) were frequently attacked by South Africa, with the complicity of the United states, for harbouring ANC, PAC and brothers and sisters belonging to others parties. During these attacks, our nationals were also killed, but we saw it as a loss to war. We were waging a war and supporting our siblings across the border.

Why is it that now these same siblings hack and murder us when we need them? We helped them when they were in need for ideological reasons. Why won’t they help us when we’re in need for survival reasons (food, livelihood, a roof, etc.)? It is indeed true that…

A: The collapse of apartheid and the advent of democracy in South Africa was regionally supported by a group of southern African states called the Frontline States. These were Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and, from 1980, Zimbabwe. The Frontline States were formed in 1970 to co-ordinate their responses to apartheid and formulate a uniform policy towards apartheid government and the liberation movement. For the liberation movement in South Africa, the formation of the Frontline States was a welcomed development and a new front in the fight against apartheid.
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B: Support from the African frontline states was crucial, and it came at great human and economic costs.
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C: At the height of apartheid racism and discrimination parents even had mea and ways of reminding themselves that they are human beings and they belong to Africa. This included naming their children in a manner that maintained this memory. Phyllis Naidoo writes about a South African couple who were exiled in Lesotho and named their first child “Le Rona Re Batho” (We too are people). This forms a theme of a real story where the father to Le Rona Re Batho was killed together with about 44 other South Africans and Lesotho nationals in a raid by the apartheid forces of the time. These were people who were crying out proclaiming that they were also people and deserved to be treated like human beings. The same cry is made by those who have suffered through these senseless xenophobic attacks- “LE RONA RE BATHO!”
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