Original Research - Special Collection: African Hermeneutics

Confronting xenophobia in South Africa and the concept of foreigner in Deuteronomy as an act of ‘othering’

Doniwen Pietersen
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2608 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2608 | © 2022 Doniwen Pietersen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 June 2022 | Published: 13 October 2022

About the author(s)

Doniwen Pietersen, Department of Old and New Testament, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


This article explored the theme of xenophobia and ‘othering’ (violently targeting African immigrants in particular) as a complex and highly relevant theme in South Africa in order to move towards addressing it for the sake of unity in Africa. This research article has adopted a sociological lens that critically examines the issue of xenophobia within a 21st-century South African context. It then considers Deuteronomy and its context from a literary approach to understand how the book deals with ethnic exclusion, also known as xenophobia. South Africa, because of its history, has seen xenophobic sentiments manifest themselves in a particularly violent manner in its short democratic history. Xenophobic violence is seen as an ever-present fibre built into the make-up of South African culture, which is always ready to spill over and negatively impact society.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article critically engages the topic of xenophobia and frames it around the theme of other and/or othering others. It then evaluates how the book of Deuteronomy and how the 21st-century African, particularly South African, have misappropriated the issue of immigrants. An African hermeneutic has been implored to explore all this.


xenophobia; other/othering; Deuteronomy; South Africa; socio-historical approach; colonialism; immigrants


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