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Apr 30

Mancom Talk: Liebe Kellen discusses xenophobic violence

Liebe Kellen Mancom Secretary

My role as secretary entails accurate recording of meetings. In order to fulfil this role it is important to listen and observe during the course of the meetings and to reflect in the process of writing up the minutes. This role is consistent with my profession as a social worker.

My recent reflections in relation to my profession are focused on xenophobia especially since I work for an organisation that renders counselling services to vulnerable groups including refugees. Some of the refugees were in South Africa in 2008 and were severely traumatised by the outbreak of xenophobic violence that year. Their homes were burnt down and they sought refuge at Jeppe Police Station.

Thereafter they were relocated to the Rifle Range Refugee Camp. The camps were a temporary measure and the refugees returned to the areas from which they fled. It has taken time for them to rebuild their lives. The recent upsurge of xenophobia has re-traumatised them even though they weren’t directly affected by it. Today I heard about police raids on undocumented foreigners and their arrests.

My reflections take me to questions about the stranger in our midst and to an awareness of otherness. I also find myself thinking about otherness within our congregation. Who is the other in relation to whom? How do we navigate otherness?