Refugees hope Ghana support can ease xenophobia

Fri Jul 2, 2010 1:52pm GMT

By Anjali Nayar

CAPE TOWN, July 2 (Reuters Life!) - An 18-year-old Zimbabwean who runs a football team of African refugees campaigning against xenophobia says wide support for Ghana as the continent's last World Cup hope could help ease tensions.

Migrants from other African countries who settle in South Africa often face hostility from locals, who accuse them of stealing jobs and services.

Ephraim Ntlamo, who came to South Africa in 2008, set up a football team of refugees from Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Burundi, Rwanda and Mozambique.

The team plays matches in townships where foreigners have been attacked within the last two years, and watches World Cup games with locals to foster more understanding.

"People don't have a clear idea of how other African countries are but now because of Ghana's performance in the World Cup they will want to explore what Ghana is about, and what Africa is all about," Ntlamo said, speaking at a football match at Du Noon township outside Cape Town.

"By this, they will get to understand that we are no different, we are just the same," he added.

Du Noon township was at the centre of xenophobic attacks in the Western Cape in 2008. There have been constant police patrols and, more recently, the military was deployed.

But street vendors have been selling large numbers of flags and scarves as South Africans rush to support Ghana as the one remaining African team of the six to originally qualify.   Continued...

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