On the 28 April, the Chinese Embassy in South Africa posted on its Facebook page a story of a local farm run by a Chinese farmer Mr Wang donating fresh vegetable to the local community during the lockdown, Mr Wang says “Our farm is small but we are gonna do whatever we can to help out.”
To date, this post has attracted hundreds of reaction and comments, many of which I read with shock and dismay. The one message by Mogau Sebetha reads “So we must say thank u while they are the ones that brought this corona”, this message received 54 thumb ups, hearts and smiles. Mogau follows through with his comment “No they must go back home…this ppl eat snakes and spiders, how can we trust what they are farming”.
The level of hate and discrimination by some posting on the Facebook page is astonishing and extremely hurtful. My suggestion to those bigots dripping in hate and racial slurs is to visit the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. Those men and women sacrificed their lives to liberate South Africa from discrimination and racial hate did so we would never again have to experience what they fought to bring down.
Chinese people arrived in this country more than a hundred years ago had to work extremely hard to survive, the majority of the early Chinese immigrants worked to build the railroads and in the sugar cane fields. Later immigrants from Taiwan and Mainland China had to work ten times harder than many locals so they can make this place home. Through the decades, racial attacks against South African Chinese have never ceased and continues today. I know because I am a victim of many racial cases of abuse.
Today, many of us have established ourselves in different fields and constantly give back to the community. It is not because we are better off but because we care. Since the lockdown, South African Chinese community has donated hundreds of thousands of personal protection equipment, masks, sanitisers, food parcels and many other aids to help the nation in combating Covid-19 and giving relief to the needy. Mr Wang is just one of many examples of how we will extend a hand to our fellow South Africans in need. Many of us contribute to the country’s economy, job creations, development, welfare and in many other ways, and we will continue to do so in good and bad times.
We are going through a global crisis and must stand in solidarity to overcome this pandemic.
Those sticks and stones will not deter our commitment to building a better South Africa and will not dampen our love to our fellow South Africans. We have never given up then and are not about to give up now.
South Africa, we got your back!
Michael Sun is a councillor at the City of Johannesburg