The Illegal Alien Is My Neighbour!
izzonline: South African economy built on cheap black labour. Izzonline makes an important point. There’s a lot of xenophobia about. It’s not only in South Africa. A few years ago I was touring Greece with my wife and daughter, and we stayed at a hotel that was not really open, because the tourist season had not yet started. It was in a little fishing village. The owner brought his motorbike in to the vestibule for the night, “otherwise the Albanians will steal it”.
And I somehow felt right at home, because back home in South Africa we would blame the Zimbabweans. It is estimated that there are something like a million illegal immigrants from Albania in Greece, and perhaps three times that number of Zimbabweans in South Africa.
But I’ve not really met and talked to the Zimbabweans (or Mozambicans or whoever) who have stolen my stuff. But I have met and talked to honest Zimbabweans in South Africa, and what strikes me about them is that they are a lot better-educated than most South Africans. I teach in our church theological school, and it is the foreigners who are better students — Zimbabweans, Congolese. In the case of the Congolese, English is not a second but a third language, yet they pick it up and use it better than South Africans. In church services we read the Psalms a lot, and I found a Zimbabwean who could read the psalms fluently in English (which was his second language), while a South African whose home language was Northern Sotho stumbled over them in that language.
OK, Zimbabwe and Congo never had Bantu Education. But they have had economic meltdowns and civil wars, so they haven’t exactly had a good learning environment either. And the fact is that while some illegal immigrants may be criminals, others are hard-working honest people among them who are better-educated than many South Africans and are assets to the South African economy.
And the criminals are probably better-educated than our police, which is why the police are running around in circles, and hardly ever catch them.
Quite a long time ago now I visited Singapore, and I was interested in their philosophy. They were a small country, and their only asset was their people. So they reasoned that they must develop that asset and spend a lot of money on education. And we in South Africa must do the same. So what if the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund demand that we apply “structural adjustment” programmes designed to keep our people in ignorance? To hell with them; let their structural adjustment programmes go back to hell where they came from.
And perhaps we need to be using those illegal immigrant teachers from Congo and Zimbabwe and such places to teach South Africans a love of learning and the meaning of hard work.
And then there is Sepherim: The Illegal Alien Is My Neighbor!, who shows how unChristian the attitude of some so-called Christians is towards illegal immigrants.