Xenophobia is not unheard off in this world, more so in Africa. What stands out about xenophobia, however, is where it is most prevalent. South Africa is well known across the continent as being typically modern and accepting of western cultures, something most other African nations will hardly adhere to.
You see, for such a country to be preferred by so-called dissidents when exiled, it has something special going on. However, the recent spate of xenophobic attacks paints a worrying picture of one of Africa’s inclusive countries.
In South Africa, 46% of its immigrants come from South Africa’s neighbors. It is worrying then, how someone can turn on their comrades, people who are also struggling to earn an honest living. Despite its apartheid past, South Africa has consistently risen from its dark past to be a leader in Africa and even the world when it comes to governance and service provision. Xenophobia taints this untarnished greatly.
However, much is being done to combat this menace. Chief among them is education. Another tool that is surprisingly working is art, specifically modern art. South Africa is also an African hub for contemporary art with prominent art galleries dotting its other vital cities, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Like in western countries where the love for art is widespread and art workshops, tours and meetups are a thing, South Africa is among Africa’s nations following close by.
Modern art and xenophobia have an intertwined relationship. Contemporary art is mainly focused on issues that are prominent at the time. Now, inequality in South Africa is one of the hottest topics right now. The vice quickly results in xenophobic attacks because Person A sees the foreign getting successful while he or she remains poor. The foreigner is easily blamed for snatching Person A’s job.
Modern art tries to tell the story of these two people in different ways. Art is a form of communication where the artist will draw on canvas items that symbolize various issues. For instance, celebrated contemporary painter Ronald Muchatuta created a series of art collections whose theme revolves around immigration in Africa and touches specifically on xenophobic acts.
Ronald’s collection, The African Immigration Series includes vast use of symbolism to tell the xenophobia tale. In one painting, the subject is covered in red and white material, gotten from a China Bag. The bag is often used by migrants to hold their belongings when border crossing.
Art and Africa are rarely seen or heard together. It is not easy becoming an accomplished artist on African soil. However, South Africa is a country that makes the impossible possible. The environment here hosts plenty of art schools spread across the country. These are not only for paintings, other art forms like film schools and animation schools, most of which are unheard of across the rest of the continent. To top it up, there are plenty of budding artists as well.
South Africa is a leader in the art scene; it boasts of tens of art galleries. In Cape Town alone, the number of art houses exceeds those found in the entire continent combined.
With such amenities, South Africa has the right ingredients to fuel an art revolution. Couple this with the vast immigration into the continent, you will soon have a diverse art scene full of youth and modernism. It is a melting pot for different people and consequently cultures from the rest of the continent, and so will the resultant art.
Art can be the silver bullet to xenophobic tendencies. It is the one thing that is enjoyed all over Africa despite it not being an essential aspect of modern Africa. Art can be considered a therapeutic treatment for all the chaos in this world. It brings with its sense of peace and calm, especially contemporary paintings. People will often relate to art more than they do with trade. It is no wonder then how you will easily find people singing and dancing as they work.
Therefore, art can play a significant role in the peace and reconciliation process, something crucial to curtailing xenophobia in South Africa. Arts and culture can be used with tremendous success to bring down xenophobic attacks across the country. Training the youth in art forms goes a long way in ensuring a peaceful and inclusive future since these guys are, in essence, tomorrow’s leaders.