A vice-chancellor speaks out against xenophobia

Dear Foreign National Student,

Today I once again hang my head in shame as we continue to threaten, harass and even kill you and your family members and friends on the streets of South Africa. I am ashamed not only because our leaders are silent on this atrocity but because some of them seem to provoke such violence in their speech while others are in open denial as they scramble to find substitute words for this evil with an inflammable name, xenophobia.

Yet this week many of you will stride across graduation stages in South African universities to obtain your degrees. One of you, a student at my university, wrote to tell me that you will achieve the award for top student in economics even though you came here from Zimbabwe without a cent in your pocket.

* Professor Jonathan Jansen is vice-chancellor of the University of the Free State in South Africa. His weekly column, The Big Read, appears in The Times newspaper. He wrote this article in response to xenophobic attacks in some South African cities that have claimed the lives of four foreign nationals in the past two weeks.
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