The 2008 and on-going xenophobic violence in South Africa has left thousands of people displaced and humiliated. Many families have lost loved ones; most often the breadwinner in their family. Those who have lost their lives in the most brutal and unjust way are too quickly forgotten. Almost no one – including the South African government – has done anything to significantly acknowledge or apologise to the families, let alone offer any solace or help.
There is also not enough being done to tackle the root causes of this violence in the communities where this phenomenon occurs.
Registered NPO, AFRIKA AWAKE, was formed in January 2013. It is made up of individuals who have in different and numerous ways been actively involved in documenting, exposing and assisting those affected by this violence since 2008.
We cannot overlook locals in the affected communities who too need upliftment opportunities and help to heal and grow.
With the assistance of a number of organisations and individuals including BMF students and members of MCB as well as Gift of the Givers Foundation, we have been able to focus on helping survivors as well as the families of those killed in the violence.
The AFRIKA AWAKE team
Here is brief history of each member leading up to how we joined forces and what we have done as Afrika Awake to date and what we plan to do in the future.
Bianca Gewer (a travel agent)is a qualified zulu teacher and psychology counsellor who has always had a passion for children and education.
She is also a humanatarian who over the years has helped many individuals with various things.
With a soft spot for children, in particular those in need she found herself volunteering for and running the Homeless Talk creche in Rosebank.
Romy Petersen, a dance teacher who is a qualified field guide with a history in shark conservation as well as water conservation changed course in 2008 when the first spate of xenophobia broke out. This is when her humanitarian self came out and she found herself getting very involved. Although still active in the conservation field her main focus is on humanitarian issues, especially those pertaining to xenophobia and any kind of discrimatory injustices.
Gabriel Hertis a Rwandan National has been actively involved in numerous social cohesion projects for many years between South Africans and foreign migrants and is completing a masters degree in peace building. He regularly engages head-on with both community leaders and members as well as local government.
Charles Khoza is a film and documentary maker and an avid humanitarian.
He is responsible for making the documentary Blood and Fire which tells the tragic story of Ernesto Nhamuave the Mozambican national burnt alive in the streets of Rhamaphosa informal settlement in the 2008 xenophobic outbreak. He has also documented the Mido Macia murder case among other sensitive cases in South Africa. In both cases he travelled to Mozambique to tell the story of families left behind by senseless violence. He helped instrument the building of the Nhamuave home in 2011.
Serge Lwamba a Congolese National is also a humanitarian who does a lot of work in local communities organising regular soup kitchens and feeding schemes.
Bianca and Romy, life long friends teamed up during the 2015 xenophobia. Through this (it’s a bit of a story) they met the three founding members of Afrika Awake namely Charles, Gabriel and Serge, and subsequently joined AFRIKA AWAKE as directors.