‘They call us Makwerekweres’ : foreign learners speak out against xenophobia.
Gopal, Nirmala Devi.
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While a number of studies on xenophobia have been conducted in South Africa, very little has been done to establish the effects of xenophobia on foreigners in schools. To help remedy the dearth of studies in this area, this article aimed to provide emic perspective on xenophobia from a select sample of Grade 12 foreign learners. Through the use of interviews, the study explored how these learners experience their host country, South Africa, five years after the widely publicized xenophobic violence. Thematic analysis of responses indicated, profoundly, learners’ thoughts and feelings on xenophobia. Participants described their emotional and physical exposure to various forms of xenophobia perpetrated either at the level of the community and/or the school. Participants felt that South Africans who do not take responsibility for their behavior shift blame to foreigners, hence fuelling xenophobia. Although learners perceive South Africa as a beautiful country with much to offer, they prefer migrating to countries with better opportunities. This research provided a baseline for further research into this phenomenon.