The Weight of a Word


If you have doubts of how politic divides people, you should go to South Africa today. Being pro or against Zuma is an option everybody seems to have made, as we recently concluded while talking with a few Jozi enthusiasts and detractors.


Despite all said and done, some still cannot understand Zuma’s popularity. It looks has if the same tide putting Chavez and a few others in power has reached these Southern coasts.


We all have to agree at least in something: Zuma makes people talk and write! They give their opinions freely, be it on the streets or newspapers, sometimes with curious arguments or titles, like for instance in “Why Mickey Mouse Would Be a Better President Than Zuma”. Though opinions diverge, the main thing has always to be the freedom of expressing them – especially remembering the Zimbabwe effect!


In terms of Zuma’s popularity, a different wind sweeps the neighboring countries. Here, if you ask someone’s opinion, prepare yourself to hear something like: “Zuma é o dono da xenophobia!” or “Zuma owns the xenophobia!” What people are saying is that Zuma is responsible for the recent violence against foreign citizens living in South Africa.


The thing is that the word xenophobia is traveling faster than its meaning. The word itself remains somehow obscure and connected to the circumstances that made it sadly popular around here.


The other day someone gave his personal hindsight during a local TV program: “Xenophobia? I am not sure, but I think it’s worst than HIV!”


So, for some Mozambicans, xenophobia is worst than a fatal disease. Not good for Zuma!