Zimbabwean-born social justice and human rights activist and educator Tinashe Njanji has worked extensively to campaign against xenophobia since 2008, when xenophobic violence swept across the country.
Along with other activists, journalists and religious leaders among others, Njanji helped respond to the spate of hateful xenophobic attacks. Njanji advocated for better government and police protection for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.
He says xenophobia angers him as it’s an injustice done only to black non-South Africans who happen to be Africans, and not white non-South Africans.
“We need to welcome and accept everyone as an equal human being and be reminded that during the struggles of liberation we helped each other in fighting for freedom. We housed each other and called each other comrades, brothers and sisters, not labels and name calling that happens today,” he says.
Those who instigate xenophobia must be held accountable to the law, Njanji says. He encourages the public to come out strongly condemning xenophobic incidents whenever they happen, just like how people come out on issues such as race and women abuse.
Njanji has been fighting for social justice since he was completing his tertiary studies back home in Zimbabwe. He has over 10 years of experience in community mobilisation and working with grassroots organisations across South Africa. His work extends beyond campaigning against xenophobia and he is involved in a number of civil societies that promote social justice.
Njanji was among the founding activists that formed the Right2Know Campaign and served as national administrator in previous work with the organisation.
Currently the coordinator of People’s Health Movement South Africa (PHM SA), Njanji works tirelessly to ensure better health care provision for poor people in southern Africa. Besides project management and the coordination of the national PHM SA office, he runs community workshops and training mainly in disadvantaged communities.
In the future, Njanji dreams of becoming a popular educator who works effectively at the community level to address the social determinants of health — and the social and health issues people face on a daily basis. — Shaazia Ebrahim