In the wee hours of the morning, young boys in their teens could be seen running across the countryside. Some were just 14 years old and they would be armed with knives, swords, and some would be carrying spears. These young boys would almost be naked – the clothing they wore was scant.
These young boys were on the hunt. The hunted would be filled with fear. Panic would spread among them. Because these young boys were ordered to kill human beings that lived among them. This killing was ordered by the state, the government. These boys were Greek boys, hunting other Greeks – and killing them at will.
Welcome to ancient Sparta, in Greece!!
These murder sprees were called Krypteia. It was part of the ruthless and brutal training that young Spartans received on their way to becoming men. The other Greeks they were allowed to kill willy-nilly were the slaves of Sparta. These slaves were known as HELOTS. A word these days used to denote a woman of ill-repute.
Sparta is admired in modern times, as a nation of brave warriors who saved Western civilisation from the grasping clutches of the Persians. If you have seen the movie 300, you will notice the love affair with Sparta – even in popular culture. But Adolf Hitler also admired Sparta, which should ring bells in the minds of decent people everywhere.
Many admirers of ancient Sparta, those that know about the Krypteia, see these killings as a stain on an otherwise admirable nation.
It’s the same dilemma that is faced by anyone, like us, who admirers German culture and its achievements. How to explain the Nazi situation? Historians of Germany ask questions such as HOW DOES ONE EXPLAIN THE NAZI CRUELTIES IN LIGHT OF THE FACT THAT GERMANY WAS A VERY CIVILISED, ADVANCED AND CULTURED COUNTRY? This is the country of Goethe and Schiller for crying out loud!!
But it was also the country of Martin Luther and Wagner, brilliant historical figures who were also very xenophobic, especially when it came to their fellow Jewish Germans.
At the African Camp Fire Stories (ACFS) Podcast, we have decided to tackle the topic of Xenophobia and Hatred because of the recent xenophobic violence outburst in the country of South Africa. Like many other responsible Africans, we were concerned about the dark tones that the recent xenophobic violence took. South Africa has experienced bursts and spurts of xenophobia and hatred for about a decade now – though all those instances were bad and should be a cause of worry – this time around the situation was different and unique.
First of all, the violence and hateful rhetoric this time around was too focused.
Secondly, there level of misinformation, fake news (as Donald Trump would say), and propaganda was extreme.
Thirdly, for us as students of History, this time around the xenophobic mood and the seemingly co-ordinated dissemination of misinformation seemed to us too similar to the kind that came just before many genocides from history took place.
South Africa, for the longest time, has been regarded as the one country in Africa that got it right!! And by IT, we mean that South Africa avoided the kind of civil strife that came after independence – strife that engulfed most of Africa.
But off course the issue of strife is a relative one. South Africa, in the early 1990s, showed that things were not completely perfect. Violence broke out between the Zulu-dominated Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), led by Prince Buthelezi and the African National Congress (ANC), led by Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo. The violence was at its worst in what is now called the Gauteng Province and the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province. The violence also had tribalistic undertones, as the Zulus in the IFP saw the ANC as a Xhosa dominated organisation.
We at ACFS are going to do a multiple audio-episode series in the next week or so, focusing on the history of Xenophobia and Hatred. We will cover xenophobia and hatred going back to ancient times, all the way to recent genocides in Rwanda and the Sudan. The events we talk about at the opening of this article, events in Sparta, Germany, and the situation between IFP versus ANC, and many other events like that, are going to be covered in our Xenophobia and Hatred Series
We are going to cover the genocides from history and also genocides that took place in Africa. We will explore the reasons proposed by different Historians for the hatreds that drove these genocides. Were the reasons tribalistic, nationalistic, economic, political, or were they simply purely from propaganda?
These are some of the questions we will attempt to answer in our Xenophobia and Hatred series.
The series is coming soon.
Please Stay Tuned to the African Camp Fire Stories social media, and also our website: www.africancampfirestories.com
Don’t be left out:
Note also that ACFS is primarily an audio based podcast
Check out our audio podcast episodes on this website. Currently we are on the Cold War Pawns series. It’s a very gripping story of the Cold War and its impact on the African continent. We also have a Special Episode (Special Episode i) on the USSR’s and the USA’s pre-Cold War intervention in Africa. In the near future we will do Special Episode ii, which will look at the CIA and KGB blunders and flops. Also, in the near future we are going to tackle the topic of Xenophobia and Hatred.
So stay tuned to the ACFS Podcast!!!