The xeNOphobia march on 24 April in Grahamstown began outside the Rhodes University Administration building, where people gathered to protest against the violence being inflicted on foreigners in South Africa. Reported victims of the attacks were people who had sought refuge in the Rainbow Nation because life in their home countries was unbearable. But instead of being welcomed into a country that values diversity, democracy and opportunity, these fellow humans have suffered at the hands of unjustifiable and unforgivable violence.
In response, students, staff members and citizens of Grahamstown rallied together to publicly protest against the atrocities. The march was characterised by a culture of singing, colours and community – and I could not have been prouder of the people who marched for peace.
Mthabisi Sithole, a student of Rhodes University, speaks about the culture of singing that characterises South African protests.
The xeNOphobia march on 24 April began outside the Rhodes University Administration building, where people gathered in solidarity against the violence the shook our country.
An assortment of flags leaned against the wall of the building, and reinforced the sense of national, and international community.
A proud member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) carefully examines the flags on offer before selecting the flag he will carry in the march.
He selects his preferred flag and students shuffle to find flags, signs and friends.
Fourth year Journalism students from Rhodes University join (and document) the march.
Posters, signs and even pizza boxes were lifted high into the air – all calling for an end to the violence and bloodshed.
Some students found creative ways to be both socially and environmentally conscious by using last year’s calendar as poster-paper.
Marchers replaced the traffic and taxis on High Street as they walked in unison towards St. George’s Cathedral.
Singing protest songs and holding signs of protest, the street was alive and the people were united.
Flags danced in the wind and footsteps were accompanied by protest songs and clapping hands.
A beautiful sense of pride hangs in the air and the marchers form a community that captures the ideals on which our democracy is founded.
Sunlight filters through the fabric of the Zimbabwean flag as the march continues towards the cathedral.
‘What would Mandela do?’, ‘Cry the beloved country’, ‘Singabomzi’ and ‘Stop slaughtering – we are not chickens’ were among some of the signs being held in the air as people called for peace in the country.
The crowd listened attentively to the speakers; unified in the face of atrocious violence.
Many of the speeches were characterised by chants of ‘Amandla! With!’ and ‘Down with xenophobia! Down!’.
Dr Sizwe Mabizela, the Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes Univeristy, delivered a strong speech condemning xenophobia.
His speech was followed by singing and further chants of “Sies” to xenophobia.
And so it was that the sky was lined with flags, signs, songs, and photo oppurtunities.