Welcome to Our Hillbrow

by

Phaswane Mpe

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Welcome to Our Hillbrow can help.

Makwerekwere/Lekwerekwere Term Analysis

Makwerekwere (or Lekwerekwere as a singular) is a South African ethnic slur used to disparage immigrants from other African countries. The word comes from South Africans mocking the way they think other African languages sound.

Makwerekwere/Lekwerekwere Quotes in Welcome to Our Hillbrow

The Welcome to Our Hillbrow quotes below are all either spoken by Makwerekwere/Lekwerekwere or refer to Makwerekwere/Lekwerekwere. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
).
Chapter 1 Quotes

More specifically, certain newspaper articles attributed the source of the virus that caused AIDS to a species called the Green Monkey, which people in some parts of West Africa were said to eat as meat, thereby contracting the disease. Migrants (who were Tiragalong’s authoritative grapevine on all important issues) deduced from such media reports that AIDS’s travel route into Johannesburg was through Makwerekwere; and Hillbrow was the sanctuary in which Makwerekwere were based.

Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

[…] his story that looked at AIDS and Makwerekwere and the many-sidedness of life and love in our Hillbrow and Tiragalong and everywhere. His scarecrow heroine was a big influence on Refilwe’s thinking. She had read the story many times, and each time it made her weep anew. Partly because of the memories it brought up of Refentše. And partly because it made her see herself and her own prejudices in a different light.

Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:
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Welcome to Our Hillbrow PDF

Makwerekwere/Lekwerekwere Term Timeline in Welcome to Our Hillbrow

The timeline below shows where the term Makwerekwere/Lekwerekwere appears in Welcome to Our Hillbrow. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Apartheid and Colonialism  Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...people from rural Tiragalong blame people in the city. They particularly blame those they called Makwerekwere, which is a slur for any immigrant who comes to South Africa from a different... (full context)
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...West Africans eat. This leads them to be even more skeptical of and cruel towards Makwerekwere, since they blame them for the disease. The people of Tiragalong also talk about “bizarre... (full context)
Apartheid and Colonialism  Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
...teams), but this was in “glaring” contrast towards his prejudice towards Black immigrants or foreigners (Makwerekwere) in real life. Cousin always retorted that Hillbrow’s high crime rate was the fault of... (full context)
Apartheid and Colonialism  Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Refentše also liked to remind Cousin that, if he thought about it, the Makwerekwere were just like the two of them—“sojourners.” Many of the people who lived in Hillbrow... (full context)
Apartheid and Colonialism  Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
...a South African native. Cousin also blamed immigrants for the AIDS epidemic, saying that “they” (Makwerekwere) had brought the disease into South Africa. Cousin believed that people should “remain in their... (full context)
Chapter 2 
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
...her. Refentše’s mother was also prejudiced against people from Hillbrow, and she considered Lerato a Lekwerekwere (even though Lerato came from a township just north of Johannesburg) and a sexual deviant... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...even suggested that Lerato’s father was Nigerian, meaning that Lerato was the daughter of a Lekwerekwere. Refilwe said all sorts of cruel things about migrant Nigerian men in order to further... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...they would in real life) that the woman effectively killed herself by sleeping with a Lekwerekwere. Refentše wrote how “Tiragalong danced because its xenophobia—its fear of and hatred for both black... (full context)
Chapter 4
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...which made her a Johannesburger, which meant that she may be (at least partly) a Lekwerekwere. Although Refilwe didn’t tell her story using “vulgar words,” the people of Tiragalong gossiped that... (full context)
Chapter 5
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
Apartheid and Colonialism  Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
...Refilwe of back home because of people’s prejudices. The British even have an equivalent of Makwerekwere: “Africans.” (full context)
Chapter 6
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
...the people of Tiragalong are going to say—that she went abroad, became infected by a Makwerekwere, and even that she is now one of them, by association. She knows that she’ll... (full context)
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...Tiragalong uses Refilwe’s illness as a way to deepen their prejudices about Oxford, Johannesburg, and Makwerekwere. The narrator reminds Refilwe that, in Tiragalong, people will say terrible things even as you... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
...is a Hillbrowan, but she’s also “an Alexandran. A Johannesburger. An Oxfordian.” She’s even a Makwerekwere herself, since she slept with someone from Nigeria. She knows for a fact that there... (full context)