Xenophobia in South Africa was once again in the spotlight in September, when a wave of attacks targeting African immigrants swept across the country. In Johannesburg, businesses were also looted.
These were not the only xenophobic attacks in South Africa in recent years. There were violent eruptions in 2008, 2014, 2015, and 2016, too.
Now, Play Network Africa is putting on a concert called Africans Unite in Pretoria and Cape Town on Nov. 23 and 24 to create a more united Africa. It will be headlined by Nigerian superstar Burna Boy and Kwesta, who is one of the most popular rappers in South Africa.
Other artists who’ll be taking part in the event include Jidenna, DJ Maphorisa, Nadia Nakai, DJ Fort Noks, DJ Tashinga, and Boogie.
Play Network Africa Director Kenneth Chicco spoke to Global Citizen about the importance of fostering a peaceful community that belongs to all Africans.
Why is it so important for Africans to unite?
Africa will never grow economically, politically, and socially without unity on the agenda. When we can combine our efforts, only then can we grow Africa into a prosperous and formidable nation.
Why use a music concert to drive home the message about African unity?
As Play Network Africa, we had seen the massive impact the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 had on bringing important issues to the fore.
Hence, when the xenophobic attacks flared up in South Africa while we were already in the process of planning a concert, we knew there was no better time than the present to use the concert as a platform to speak out against xenophobia and gender-based violence. It has been a trying time for all Africans. Essentially, one can say that we all need this!
What makes music such a powerful force for unity?
Who can forget the iconic quote from the great Bob Marley, who said: “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”? Music is the most powerful and unifying tool in the world; breaking down all barriers and transcending borders by bringing together people of different ages, backgrounds, and nationalities and creating a social and culturally diverse interchange.
What does society lose when it allows violence to permeate its fibre?
It loses itself. I say this because if you’ve seen the recent unfortunate scenes in Cape Town between foreign nationals and the police at the UN refugee building, where a child was violently snatched from their mother’s arms … that alone should make all of us re-examine how we treat one another. Not only as Africans, but also as humans. I have zero tolerance for folks who don’t abide by the laws of the land, but violence in all respect is never the answer. As Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”