Racism and religious intolerance in African societies

February 13, 2017

African media has been awash with stories about religious and racial intolerance in Western countries thanks to rise of nationalistic movements. But what they don’t do is to tell Africans there are no signs that African societies have become a less intolerant place lately as has been observed in the case of Rosettenville violence in Johannesburg on Saturday where locals are accusing foreigners of being behind illegal drugs trade as well as prostitution rings. South Africa has seen how its society is divided into two groups, those who want non locals to be deported and those who conclude that non locals do deserve to be in the rainbow country.Both sides of the arguments utilised all kinds of media such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs to defend their views. The increasing use of these internet technologies in South African society makes the case much more intolerance as it just takes one click to spread both pro and con views. The spread of pro and con views can be very dangerous because South African society has little ability to filter provocative news due to low media literacy and other underlying factors such as strict racial understanding.The chaotic violence in Rosettenville could have a bigger implication in South African society if the authorities do not seek ways to reduce this conflict. As a blogger, I argue that this intolerant society is a consequence of an educational failure to create mature citizens who are not easily trapped in racial and religious conflicts. I am going to unpack why African societies can be so divisive from a personal perspective.African societies are looking more diverse than ever and the absolute hatred of any race, religion that is perceived to conflict with their own beliefs is very unfortunate. This intolerance sometimes turns into violence like it happened in Rosettenville, and other criminal behaviour although incidents of this kind have been very few and many would argue they are more grounded in individual mental issues than race or religious matters.

The first things is the need to look at how knowledge is being taught in African schools.As all Africans live in complex and fast changing world, the education should move on from teaching a single reality to teaching complex and global issues to students so they are aware of the societal issues surrounding them.More importantly, African countries need to train African students in critical thinking skills to analyse propaganda and media issues.In my view, if South African schools were teaching racial studies or religion from elementary levels, teachers could show and discuss a poster about xenophobia in South African cities and a poster about how xenophobic types spread the message to beat fellow Africans mainly economic migrants from East, West and Southern African countries. By facilitating students in this activity, teachers could enable students in a situation where they can stand up against racial hatred and understand how to respect the races of the world.In Kenya, the home of tribalism where social and economic well being depend on your tribe of origin, teachers should incorporate topics such as tribal conflict education, global education, and political education so that Kenyan students can be aware of current issues and face them rationally.Kenya education should go back to a value system that accepts the national ethos. As for Kenyan citizens, they should all know that embracing culturally accepted universal truth to legitimise and manage power in their country is best way to address the tribalism problem.Overall, the teaching of such truth seems not to be well-grounded within Kenyan schools. This can be problematic as Kenyan educational system fails to nurture the values that are acceptable and progressive within daily teaching activities. Kenyan schools instead tend to translate the teaching of such into worthless activities rather than asking students to understand the concept of cognitive.

In my view, the religious tolerance teaching in African societies should be fully adopted within the school system through facilitation of all the religious activities in the school system by providing places of worship for all religions in schools. Such activity could nurture tolerance among school stakeholders. The authorities should also be aware of how world value systems might be circulating in African society that are contradictory to African culturally accepted narrative. In this information technology era, information can be circulated fast and widely, and therefore, African education needs to teach media literacy to students so that they will not be influenced by racial or religious extremists on alternative sources of information like social media.To tackle intolerance, African countries need to think about educational processes in their schools. There are plenty of cases reported in universities, colleges and schools about bullying, revenge and punishment which gives a clear picture of student to student relations based on their race or religion. It is very often that African schools system punishes students as opposed to engaging in restorative justice by using a reparative procedure when a student undermines school regulation. In my view, a more humanistic procedure in order to break the cycle of violence in African societies will be more ideal. Schools should also embrace multiple realities by teaching students learning activities to allow them to speak freely, honestly and openly and with time, all Africans will be on same path in terms of tolerance as schools and education institutions can be a way to promote a peaceful and tolerant African societies and avoid the kind of violence witnessed in Rosettenville where houses believed to be brothels were torched, allegedly by angry community members targeting foreigners said to be Indians and Nigerians.In Africa today, there is somewhat inconsistent attitudes to racial and religious tolerance.

Contador Harrison