Actor and media personality Raphael Griffiths who is best known for his role as Vusi Mukwevho on Muvhango has revealed that he was afraid to speak about his heritage because he was petrified of xenophobic South Africans.
Raphael says that he was afraid to talk about his heritage since he is half Zambian.
Explaining his ancestry Vusi said,
Yes, I am half Zambian. My dad is Zambian. He is from Kitwe. Some of my family is still there in Zambia. Some have married guys from Botswana, some are married to Namibians, and some are married to Zimbabweans, others to Malawians.
My great-grandma from my father side was originally Portuguese. She had a bit of Angolan descent. They moved to Zambia, and that’s how my grandma came about. She married a Zambian man, and that’s how my Dad came about. My Dad married a Zulu woman and that’s how I came about. I am an African. It’s a nice mix.
Despite being proud of his ancestry and heritage, the multi-talented actor said that he was scared to tell people that he is half-Zambian because he did not feel comfortable with how some xenophobic South Africans treated foreigners.
Speaking in an interview with Kiki Nembhard Raphael said that he was unsure that he would still be welcomed and loved if he revealed that his father is Zambian. Vusi was afraid that xenophobic South Africans would say that he is one of the foreigners taking over the jobs meant for South Africans.
…when I was growing up, I was scared to tell people that I’m half Zambian. I’d ask myself; ‘If I told these people I’m half Zambian, would you love me the same way you love me now? Or would you think this Kwerekwere is here taking our jobs? Or would you put a burning tyre on my neck too?’ I don’t know. That’s why I couldn’t say anything. Even though I was born here and my whole life is here, I still felt uncomfortable.
…we have the spirit of brotherhood, but then half of me comes from the most xenophobic country in Africa. Maybe if we say what we as Africans have in common excluding South Africa – we have brotherhood.
…I am serious. People used to criticise my mum for having a child with a foreign man. There was too much talking and unnecessary criticism. We are very xenophobic here.
The television personality also listed South Africa as one of the most xenophobic countries on the continent. According to Raphael, South Africa is in the same category as Egypt, Morocco and Algeria as being some of the most xenophobic countries on the continent,
I think what a lot of South Africans need to do is travel to other countries. SA people don’t travel to other provinces let alone other countries. Travelling opens your mind. When you see how people receive you in their countries, then you’ll be able to receive other people in your country. South Africa has ‘separated’ itself, it’s like we are the New York of Africa. I’d say out of over 50 countries in Africa, only 4 of them are Xenophobic…South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria.
The actor burst into the spotlight in 2009 as a presenter on SABC 2’s youth programme Q-base 28‚ and bagged a role on Muvhango straight after. During his time on Muvhango, Raphael’s character Vusi transitioned from a spoilt, troublesome 16-year old teenager who relied on his mother Thandaza (played by actress Sindi Dlathu) into a father. Many applauded him, for the way he had portrayed Vusi’s transition.
After growing to be a firm favourite on Muvhango Raphael left the show after 5 years and joined e.tv’s Imbewu: The Seed where he played the role of Zithulele Bhengu.