(Be warned: One of the photos shows a man being roasted alive. Read the sequel, How Jonathan, Zuma can end Xenophobia, reprisals and recurrence)
When Nigerians and other foreigners engage in crime, defraud their hosts, deal drugs, snatch their girlfriends, make and spend money lavishly or even look better, talk better and dance sexier than the owners of the land in South African nightclubs, Xenophobia becomes inevitable. More so when the owners of the land believe, rightly or wrongly, that you are responsible for their woes, unemployability and possible laziness or self-caused disadvantages as is the case in South Africa.
No doubt, we must condemn Xenophobia in all its ramifications because no amount of ill feeling towards another human being can justify killing or maiming him let alone roasting him alive as the stories and photos trending around the globe about South Africa now show. HAMILTONSTYLE joins the rest of the world to condemn Xenophobia. However, if there is anything we also must fix about our desperate acts in other people’s countries, we should fix that too, and the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration must seize this opportunity to find quick diplomatic solutions to this crisis if it must look good on its way out of – ahead of May 29.
I have been to South Africa about eight times as a media guest of South African Tourism and South African Airlines. And I have seen most ills as stated above happen, while I enjoyed the sights and sounds of Cape Town, Pretoria and Bloemfontein as well as cities like Johannesburg and Durban.
On all my SAA flights back to Lagos, Nigeria I saw South African detectives escort repatriated Nigerian men and women out of the plane. They would hand them over to security men at Muritala Muhammed Airport. Every flight.
Memories of Hillbrow in Joburg still haunt me. There I saw so many Africans who were stranded for lack of money, jobs and proper immigration papers. Almost everyone looked unkempt. Marijuana was freely smoked and I heard clear Pigin, Yoruba and Ibo freely spoken in the dangerous corners of Hillbrow.
If only the few bad ones who seem addicted to crime would become fewer and Nigerians living and working legitimately in South Africa become more visible, and the Federal Government of Nigeria is on top of its diplomatic game in South Africa, things would become a lot better and quicker too.
On Wednesday 15 April 2015 xenophobia resurfaced in Durban, South Africa and at least five people were killed with dozens arrested in that beautiful city of the Kwazulu Natal Province. But the real disaster of xenophobia is by far greater than that.
Xenophobia is fatal hatred of foreigners by citizens of a country. Angry Durbanites were seen attacking foreigners, their homes and places of business regardless of their colour or nationality. Poor and hapless black South Africans are known to really hate Nigerians, Ghanaians, Mozambican, Zimbabweans and Kenyans… in that order.
Xenophobia is evil. It is bestial. It is even more stupid than Apartheid, which is an Afrikaans word meaning “the state of being apart”, literally. In real terms, apartheid was a system of racial segregation in South Africa that was enforced through legislation by the ruling party from 1948 to 1994.
While we call Apartheid barbaric, which is whites hating and killing blacks and calling them sub-humans, xenophobia is multi-barbaric because it is blacks and whites (and betwixt) hating and killing blacks and whites (and betwixt).
More often than not, the flames of xenophobia in South Africa (and Malaysia which has become also notorious) once sparked off in the minds of a few, are fanned socially when females start to prefer Nigerian men and other Africans to their own men; financially, when foreigners own shops and small businesses whereas the citizens are jobless; politically, when foreigners become louder and more visible in public places than the citizens; and economically, when (unfortunately) foreigners start beating citizens at committing crimes like 419 (advanced fee fraud), pimping, hard drugs peddling, robbery, et cetera.
The anti-foreigner violence in Durban, BBC.com reported, is reminiscent of the 2008 attacks in Johannesburg that killed more than 60 people and displaced thousands. Since Friday, police have clashed with protesters, and stores owned by foreign nationals have been targeted and looted.
Disgruntled locals have harassed and attacked foreigners living in Durban, saying they cause social and economic harm and should leave, South African newspaper The Mail and Guardian reports. According to Bloomberg, police say the attacks began after a group of Durban residents accused a supermarket of replacing its workers with foreigners.
However up to 5,000 people have taken part in a rally against xenophobia in South Africa’s coastal city of Durban following attacks on foreigners, Newsweek.com reports. President Jacob Zuma condemned the violence as “shocking”, and called for calm to be restored.
The Zulu king has been accused of fuelling the attacks. He denies this. Many jobless South Africans accuse foreigners of taking jobs in a country where the unemployment rate is 24%.
“No amount of frustration or anger can justify the attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops,” President Zuma told parliament on Thursday.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aminu Wali told newsmen in Abuja today that the federal government may evacuate Nigerians who are willing to come back home if the xenophobic attacks in South Africa worsens.
(Photo courtesy: BBC)