Xenophobia in South-Africa
Xenophobia in South Africa took a massive turn recently, not like it has not been an issue over time. The Nigerian diaspora in South Africa took a hit, with alleged videos of arson against the body littering all over the internet.
The alleged demands of the attackers and their sympathizers?
Nigerians should stop selling drugs to their citizens.
Foreigners should go home to their country and stop taking over their jobs.
And many more.
How Did Nigerians React?
Nigerians over the Internet became confused. “But grocery shop keepers are not drug dealers, why not fight the drug dealers?” Some asked. Some South Africans volunteered answers suggesting that the shops are usually a front for illicit businesses.
As the purported videos of the Xenophobic attacks by the South Africans trickled unto social media, users across Africa lost their cool.
Some Nigerians who may have been eyeing the highly coveted MTN stock called for the nationalization of South African asset in the country. Someone suggested that NTA could acquire DSTV.
By September 4th, the mob hearkened to the cries of the online users, starting with Surulere Shoprite, down to Lekki, Ibadan, Lugbe and Sangotedo Shoprite. Some MTN offices were burnt in the process too.
Did the South African Government Help Matters?
The South African Government after several calls to make a statement following the accusations of xenophobia and alleged rape, the murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana, a South African lady by a postman, yielded to pressure.
The statement released on Twitter claimed to understand the grievances of protesting South Africans but stated that violence was not the way forward.
A video soon emerged where President Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of South Africa during his campaign, told his ANC supporters, that if he was voted again, he would send the illegal foreigners home.
This was further corroborated by an old video of a former Police Chief, who stated that if immigration was not fixed, a foreigner could become President of South Africa.
On the other hand, a video where Julius Malema echoed his Pan-African sentiments emerged, calling on South Africans to face the whites and not fellow African Brothers and Sisters.
This was supported by Trevor Noah’s alleged statement highlighting that 6,000 European families control 85% of South Africa’s wealth, and the South Africans were angry with the wrong people.
By this time, the tension was already rife in Nigeria. Shoprite and MTN Offices around the country was already shutting down, except the ones in some zones like the South East, the core North and South-South, where shoppers went about their normal activities.
The Nigerian Police in a bid to quail the rising tide of protests allegedly gunned down a Nigerian in Lekki.
Why So Slow– Lethargy?
All of these were happening while Nigerians were calling on the government to take a stand.
The President, Muhammadu Buhari, the VP, Yemi Osibanjo and the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama were still in a meeting by this time and in no short time, they released a statement asking for compensation of destroyed property belonging to Nigerians, withdrawal of Nigeria from the World Economic Forum and possible recall of the South African High Commissioner.
Seemingly, the South African High Commission in Nigeria was shut down the next day, perhaps in retaliation or in fear of possible attacks, since their High Commission in Zambia was already under attack.
Truck drivers from Zambia, Botswana, and other neighboring African countries released videos banning South African drivers from crossing to their own side of the border.
The Chairman of Somalis in South Africa at the wake of the chaos released a video reminding South Africans how other African countries helped them fight Apartheid. He stated that they were not leaving, and they would stay back and protect their families and property.
Madagascar canceled their slated match with the Bafana Bafana of South Africa.
Many Nigerians did the same too, with a video emerging of Nigerians suspected to be of Igbo descent, keeping vigil over their property with a popular musical instrument, Ogene Nti Ike.
The Ethno-Political Twist!
However, things took a different turn from the Night of September 4th, when some private citizens of Nigeria were alleged to have flouted the Boycott order by the FG, including Madam Oby Ezekwesili and Mr. Jim Ovia.
Mr. Bashir Ahmad, a Presidential Spokesman posted;
Nigerians took to the Twitter handle of Doctor Oby Ezekwesili to call her unprintable names. Others stood by her, however.
Later on, it was discovered that even elected government officials from Nigeria allegedly attended the WEF. This has since left some Nigerians amazed at the country’s inability to stick together when it mattered most.
As at the time of filing this report, Nigerians are still on Twitter, accusing each other, and especially, Mr. Ahmad of ethnic and gender-based dog-whistling.
What Caused All These?
In all of these, the spark of the attacks in South Africa is still debatable, whether a Nigerian or a Tanzanian shut a South African driver. However, a video has emerged showing two alleged South African witnesses stating that they were there when it happened, and it was a Tanzanian drug lord.
Up till now, there is no clear picture of the crisis. What everyone knows is that Xenophobia has taken another turn, and now, South African businesses and Interests in foreign countries are at risk too.
Talkabout took the initiative of getting to the root of the reprisal attacks in Nigeria. It was discovered to be poverty, as a Twitter user reiterated that a class war is imminent in Nigeria.
Mr. Eazi, a popular Nigerian musician called on Africans to fight the real enemy, which is poverty. Mr. Ayo Balogun, popularly known as Wizkid, also in one of his tweets said same. Mr. David Adeleke also implied the same.
Come to think of it, if South Africans had enough to go round, would they be worried about foreigners ‘stealing’ their jobs? Is it then true, that at the root cause of all these is poverty and leadership failure?
Will the APC and ANC-led Nigerian and South African government finally do something about poverty?