Understanding and Overcoming Xenophobia: A One Day Colloquium



At the present moment, xenophobic practices in South Africa are taking a number of nefarious forms from the exclusion of foreign students and staff from universities through the denial of visas, to the systematic unleashing of mob and state violence against the weakest sections of our population. This violence in particular has gone so far as to invade the sanctuary of churches and has included the deployment of the military and not just the police against poor communities thus treating the latter as potential enemies. It has recently become clearer in fact that xenophobia is not a problem of poverty but primarily a problem of identity politics endemic to South Africa, a kind of politics which state institutions and their agents have been pursuing since the early 1990s. Most analyses reduce the question of xenophobia to one of criminality and poverty and deplore xenophobic practices without offering much in terms of ideas for a solution.

This colloquium takes as its point of departure the need to understand xenophobia as a particular political subjectivity and thereby also wishes to subject to discussion alternative perspectives and the defensive practices of those within communities who are attempting to resist xenophobic oppression. In order to combine the two, the colloquium brings together a number of intellectuals writing on the subject including the Congolese intellectual Professor Ernest Wamba-dia-Wamba in order to debate the issues at stake. The colloquium will also provide a platform to Congolese and South African activists who have jointly organised against xenophobia in Durban. The colloquium is thus an attempt to bring academic and activist voices in conversation over what has become a major scourge in our country.

VENUE: Humanities Seminar Room
DATE: 28th May 2015
TIME: 8.30 -15.30


8:30 – 8:45 Coffee

8:45 – 9:00 Introduction and welcome Dr. Richard Pithouse

9: 00 – 10:30 Ms. Fezi Mthonti, Prof. Michael Neocosmos, Prof Ernest Wamba-dia-Wamba

10:30 – 10: 45 Coffee

10:45 – 11:30 Discussion

11:30 – 12:00 Vice-Chancellor’s Address: Dr. Sizwe Mabizela, Vice Chancellor, Rhodes University

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch

1:00 – 1:30 Screening of ‘Africans Against Xenophobia’ (d. Lucien Dunia Kyanga, 2015)

1:30 – 2:30 Mr Bahebwa Kabambiri and Mr Lucien Dunia Kyanga (Congolese Solidarity Campaign), Mr Thapelo Mohapi (Abahlali baseMjondolo)

2:30 – 2:45 Coffee

2:45 – 3:15 Discussion