Phobia, causes, effects and resolutions
In as much as we show concern against xenophobic activities in South Africa, we must also speak against the same phobia being perpetrated by Nigerian govt against the Shiite minority in particular. It is hypocrisy to justify the phobia against them and still condemn phobia against those in SA. Phobia wherever it is is phobia and must be condemned by all.
More so, viewing the whole saga from a critical point of view, we need to understand that there are about 800,000 Nigerians known to be living in South Africa with families and many are even married to SA citizens. They have children and investments as well and some of them even work with agencies there. They are already a community in SA. How do you advice the repatriation of such Nigerians from SA to begin? If it is not impossible, it will definitely be very difficult to achieve.
I think to resolve the issue, the SA government should enact laws that will provide opportunities to their citizens, educate them and free them from institutionalized poverty.
They have a problem of classism and saddism that is founded by government’s incompetence since the end of Apartheid in SA. It is a very big burden on them.
If they had gone the way of Zimbabwe which prioritized education and land ownership to its people they will not be facing this problem today. They will be having a highly educated population that will not be dominated by sentiment and such education will be invested in civility and development. It will be unlike it now is that ignorance is invested in xenophobia.
Another issue is that these people are a generation of those who died struggling for freedom from white domination, their parents and grand parents were killed in the past during their struggle for freedom. Today that they are free from Apartheid they still see themselves under economic bondage and domination perpetrated by those they see as foreigners.
This is because their government has not provided positive policies to support them. The only thing such a government can do to sway public opinion and support is to go along with the wish of the people because if it doesn’t it will most definitely face a fierce revolt or violent uprising that will render the country asunder.
We must understand that they are not like us that got our independence on a platter of gold from the colonialists. In their own case, they invested the blood of their heroes past for it and that spirit of sacrifice is still living in them though misused.
They faced all forms of humiliation, suppression and rights violation in the past. They never enjoyed any amalgamation or peaceful transition, they got theirs the hard way, of course, not without the support countries like Nigeria which has somehow lost its own track as a leading black nation in the world.
SA, like Brazil, is a developing country unlike Nigeria and most of these development achievements are from associating with foreigners not the majority citizens. Those struggle minded South Africans are left out from the development scheme, they were not carried along and are left with the pains of living with another form of inferiority.
Not doing the right thing in Africa, to Africans and to the black race, by Nigeria in particular, for which even people like Nelson Mandela died angry with Nigeria, is one of the major reasons xenophobia is thriving in Africa.
In Nigeria, as we have seen and as also lamented by Mandela, the lives of the citizens are worthless to the leaders who steal public funds and enrich themselves. It is in Nigeria that government can clampdown on a people and kill over a thousand of them and dump them in a mass grave and everybody will feel unconcerned and unaffected and even seek to justify it. It is in Nigeria that leaders select what laws to obey or what court judgement to respect; it is in Nigeria that government rewards criminals and anoint looters of public funds; it is in Nigeria that people don’t see themselves as Nigerians but as tribes, religionists or sectionalists.
What justifiable and reasonable stance can Nigeria morally take on the issue of xenophobia in SA? Where will the moral conscience come from?
Does anyone realise that Nigerians are one-fifth of the total population of black people in the world? What positive impact has it had on the black race? If there is any resource that Nigeria lacks, it is patriotic leadership but it has everything from human to natural resources.
The problem of this xenophobia is not impossible to resolve but certainly not in the manner a lot of people are thinking, that is through another conflict. The damage has since been done and it is the the repercussions of the damage that we are seeing. Resolving it will require effective conflict resolution methodologies and policies to be implemented not only by SA but also by Nigeria and Nigerians. We need a change of mind and a change of attitude.
Is only logical, even in Nigeria it is happening but the government did not go to war with those affected, it made policies to resolve them. The oil producing region has in the past cried out for being neglected by the Nigerian system despite feeding the nation with its resource, crude oil. Hence, policies were enacted to make them benefit even if ineffective.
In the same manner, SA needs to be directed on how to enact policies that will make its people see themselves as beneficiaries of the system that was established and watered by the blood of their heroes. Simple.
By Abdulmumin Giwa, Nigeria