The march began on the Hatfield campus and travelled across the campus with the majority of the marchers coming from the black solidarity movement. Other societies also joined the march as well as independent students. Members from the EFF were involved and EFF General Secretary Wenzile Madonsela said that EFF UP condemns the xenophobic attacks on immigrants and that the social conditions within which black communities exist do not justify xenophobic violence. After making their way across the Hatfield campus, the marchers got on a bus and went to march on the Groenkloof campus so as to spread awareness on that campus as well.
The message which Chirwa emphasises is, “You can’t be killing someone because you think they are Nigerian, because they sound a certain way or they look a certain way or they dress a certain way. In fact you can’t be killing anyone because you think they are from another country, because you think they are a foreigner.” She said that the essence of the march was that there are no foreigners in Africa.
Tlotlo Ntehelang, a member of the Black Solidarity Movement who participated in the march, stated that “Our…post-apartheid generation are so trapped [in] social media they activate whatever, and everybody is just talking about it on social media, so now we as a school of thought, we also encourage the idea that we must take to the streets and concientise people on the activation of what is happening on social media.” He also said that the fact that things are only activated on social media is a bad thing and that, “We are not going to burn anything down, we are not going to kill anyone. We are just going to get to a platform where people can speak … lets open the table and let people come and speak, dance, whatever they want to do.”
When asked what inspired the march, Chirwa said that,“It was just people saying that we are tired of all of this happening, it is not something which we should be bringing into 2015 while we are trying to build South Africa … which has everyone be equal on the soil of their fathers.”
Chirwa also stated that they will be taking in donations of food and clothing items to help families and individuals affected by the xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg, Durban, Sunnyside and other affected areas. Information regarding the donations can be found on Chirwa’s Twitter page, @naledichirwa.
Photo: Shen Scott