10985050_10203977332373973_8719230515076627857_nI am a mother, a loving one (I should think so). This morning before leaving for work, I held my daughter. I held her like I would never hold her again . I am blessed for that ,but, away in Mozambique, is a mother who will never hold her son again.She will never hear his voice again.Not because he refuses to speak to her, but because someone decided to take away his voice,his strength and ultimately his life. Yes, Emmanuel Sithole died young, he died in the prime of his youth and worse still,he died in broad daylight. They call it xenophobia, I think it is worse than that. You know phobia to me means an irrational fear of something. But it seems in some places when you fear something it is synonymous with murder. I feel I am coming on too strong but forgive me, a life was lost,oh no actually seven lives were lost;that means seven coffins,seven tombstones and seven funeral services. Seven families whose lives will never ever remain the same again. Seven homes that are currently in mourning.

My brothers, If I should die before my time, I want it to be for a worthwhile cause.I want to be remembered. I want a memorial stone struck in my honour but above all I want to leave a better life for those i leave behind.

You see, I am not very young, in my lifetime, a country close to mine went through genocide when the whole world was watching. I am haunted by the fact that my daughter and her children will probably learn about it in history and they will ask, Mama, where were you? What did you do? Did you also watch the senseless slaughter of innocent men,women and children for a cause they could not change? Where was the rest of the world? Where were the leaders?

You see leadership used to be about wanting to do something; I want to improve education standards in my village,I want to empower the women in my community,I want to provide affordable healthcare for my countrymen;Yes that was then; But now leadership is about wanting to be someone;I want to be the MP for XY north constituency, I want to be the President my whole life; I want to be ……I want to be,..So I once I am (verb.to be), then I am done;I achieved my goal now let me look out for my own and myself.My brother and sisters, this is not how it should be.

In 2008 we had the same “xenophobic” attacks [read killings] that saw over 60 people die, again 60 coffins. Why are we faced with the same problem twice, I will not go into the politics of who said what that incited who and whose words were taken out of context but African leaders of today and of tomorrow, you must wake up. Whenever you speak people listen, all kinds of people, good and bad, what differs is what they hear!! As a leader, you have a powerful tool called the media at your disposal;Please use it for good and not for evil. Speak words that can be interpreted with no other message than the one you want to relay.
I plead with our leaders as a mother who cannot begin to fathom the pain of losing a child, as a wife who cannot understand the pain of losing a husband, but many have lost loved ones and its time to say NO MORE!!

It is sad that at the helm of every episode of violence, there is usually one who has lead others astray with the wrong message.
Look for lifelong solutions to your country’s problems.Do you think that driving out foreigners will create more jobs for your people?After you have killed your neighbour,are you going to live happily ever after. It is time we realised that Africa’s problems cannot just be wished away.We have to work hard if we want our grandchildren to be proud of being African.MWF fellows 2015,this is change that we can believe in;The change that starts with you!!! I am so glad I am part of a fellowship of young people who have already proven that they want to do something not be someone. Yes MWF fellows, you are the ones Africa has been waiting for!!

50 years from now when my granddaughter asks me, Jajja [Granny] where were you when people were killed in SA I will say I was with the other MWF fellows,advocating for an end to the violence,one which you will see no more;

For God and My Country
Stella Anne Oloo