Never did it cross my mind that my home and people would need to be protected in the manner which has been required over the last week.
The sense of survival and fear mixed with adrenaline was the combination felt by many citizens in the KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng provinces of South Africa.
It was the dire need to protect businesses, family, homes, and themselves amidst what can only be described as a ghastly nightmare. The years of hard work and sacrifice to build a country up only to have riots, looting and destruction wipe it all away in a matter of days.
Fifth day in and the country awoke, bracing itself for what the day would hold. Social media was abuzz trying to keep up with the latest riot action, constantly updating the list of places to possibly strike it lucky in buying a loaf of bread, nappies, or a carton of milk.
To add to the mix, Twitter was trending with #PhoenixMassacre. This was particularly frightening for the Indian community which make up the majority of the area and were trying to protect themselves and everything they have worked for.
It was a culmination of many factors for the situation to have reached such a terrifying point. The lack of government intervention is one. Has the nation failed its people? Or have the wounds of apartheid finally presented itself? These are just some of the questions we ask ourselves in the hope of trying to understand the past week.
As a woman living in South Africa, this turmoil has only amplified already present feelings of fear and anxiety. The reality of gender-based violence and femicide is one we face daily. These riots have presented an additional layer – race. Indian women specifically, have been victims of online violence and we find ourselves trying to survive through these riots and protect our loved ones along with not getting caught in a racial attack.
My family has lived in this country for several generations. This is as much our country as our next-door neighbors. Having experienced and somewhat reflected on the past couple of days, it has brought about a sense of loss of identity. Our Indian community has been singled out and targeted, and for what? Trying to protect what is remaining? Trying to protect a future for our children? A future we had pictured 2 weeks ago that now does not exist.
We are faced with trying to rebuild our lives and reimagine what the future could look like. We have already seen the incredible sense of community, coming together to restore destroyed areas and efforts across the country to mobilize basic essential items. But we need the world to know what is happening and to play a part in assuring that we do not have to live in fear of such an experience repeating itself.
I love my country. We are so unique and there is such potential. We have endured a great deal, and this too shall pass. It is much harder to love our country at the current moment, but our people will continue living the national anthem: “Sounds the call to come together and united we shall stand.”
By Tasnika Goorhoo for the Global Indian Series