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CCS/ASONET workshop on xenophobia, 5 June

The Centre for Civil Society (CCS) UKZN in partnership with the African Solidarity Network (ASONET)


DATE: 5 June 2015, 10am-2pm
VENUE: Centre for Civil Society Brutus Room, 6th floor of MTB, Howard College Campus, UKZN, Durban

Xenophobia is real and has risen to new levels of danger in KwaZulu-Natal, Johannesburg and other parts of the country. It continues in Durban notwithstanding a lower level than at peak several weeks ago.

Whether organised or random, denied or accepted, romanticised or critiqued, symptom or cause – the hundreds of documented attacks against Black African immigrants have been terrifying, dating to before the upsurges of 2008, 2010 and 2015. Not only are poor communities the authors of this crisis; there are also institutional structures and deep-rooted systems to blame. The forces are both ‘internal and external’, since the life of a refugee is battered by both home-based socio-political, economic and environmental repression, and sometimes life-threatening experiences here in Durban.

Immigrants from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Burundi, Somalia, Congo, Ethiopia, Rwanda and other parts of Africa are perceived by some in power as dirty; a ‘Fiela’ sweeping of the dirt is underway. Thousands of immigrants are being detained and deported, far more than the criminals caught in the Fiela sweep.

On Friday 5 June, CCS and ASONET will hold a dialogue to help understand from insiders the root causes of immigration and xenophobic repression. The discussion will unpack ‘push-factors’ behind contemporary immigration in the region, e.g. the Great Lakes region of Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC; dictatorship in Zimbabwe and Swaziland; structural adjustment woes in Malawi and Zambia; desperate inequality and dispossession in Mozambique, etc. We will interrogate the role of the colonial legacy and ask, can Rhodes’ Walls Fall? And both the immediate and long term challenges facing victims will be addressed. Both the host society and immigrants will talk through what can be done together, considering the human rights questions and the roles of regional and global institutions in this calamity.

The question is whether xenophobia is here to stay, in either upsurges like April-May 2015 or in low-visibility but high-pain experiences on a day-to-day basis. Is the problem clearly understood, are measures employed effective, and what can genuinely end this crisis?

The dialogue is planned for the 5th of June 2015 from 10am to 2pm at CCS’s Dennis Brutus Seminar Room on the 6th Floor of Memorial Tower Building. There will be several dozen participants, drawing from each of the immigrant communities we can identify in Durban. The public are welcome; the CCS space is xenophobia-free, and welcomes free speech and constructive ideas. Refreshments are available, if you RSVP to


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