"It's the South Africans again". Media platforms including the social media became inflamed with images from Jeppestown and Johannesburg. Widespread looting, maiming, rape and murder were reported in the recent xenophobic attacks on foreigners in the towns. The exact number of people killed or injured is not known. Properties damaged or stolen have not been measured. But the events were grim.

I spoke to Tobi Obisesan a medical doctor and a graduate student at the Forte Hare University. Asked if the jobs that, allegedly, were taken away from the natives located only in the townships and suburb, he said "the question should even be if there are jobs in South Africa? Unemployment here is alarming. Well, the laziness of their youth is a contributing factor". A report had found that businesses owned by foreigners thrive better than businesses owned by the locals because the foreigners open the shops earlier, close late and sell at prices without markups.

Asked if the affected persons are company workers or business owners, Tobi observed that the victims are "mostly business owners". 
Many nations of the world have varied degrees of xenophobic experiences. The Jews and Armenians have had a bitter taste in the past century in a series of events that horrified the world. Also mind-numbing is the brazen denial that the horrors were ever real -the Armenian genocide, which indeed happened, is still being denied. In South Africa the attention was placed on apartheid. The horrible culture has been thriving on the northern fringes of the country since 1984 when refugees fleeing wars in neighboring countries of Mozambique and later Congo in 1993 and 1997 sought refuge in South Africa.

The influx of refugees in their hundreds of thousands made possible for "apartheid within apartheid". Refugees were denied basic rights by their counterparts. The election of a black majority leadership in the country in 1994 did not reduce the risk of xenophobic feelings. 

Pew Research Center in 2018 found that South Africans are the most intolerant towards migrants. Over 60 percent of the black population and over 70 percent of the white people are convinced that foreigners take the jobs and benefits. 6 out of 10 local South Africans believe that foreigners are responsible for crimes and terrorism. 21 percent wants an outright ban on immigration.

The worst hit group in recent times are Nigerians. One of the outrageous and outstanding crimes of Nigerian migrants according to protesters in February 2017 is that they "don't know how to talk to people". According to reports, the protest was officially sanctioned.

In 2019, attacks have intensified. The most recent comes from Jeppe's Town and Johannesburg Central Business District -a place currently undergoing gentrification for its loss of vitality after the whites left in the early 1990s. Since the reports started to role in, Nigerians have dug up archival materials containing details of Nigeria's struggle against apartheid. The materials are being circulated on social media to remind the world of the focus of Nigeria's foreign policy -Africa.

Ghana must go!

In 1969, Ghanaian government repatriated Nigerians. Nigeria retaliated 14 years later -for economic reasons. In 1983, Nigeria's government headed by Shehu Usman Shagari asked African migrants -numbering up to 2 million- to leave the country. Families were stranded without food and water on the road through Nigeria's southwestern border with Benin Republic. Ghana shut her borders against its own citizens for 10 days before finally opening its border. Many were crushed by overhead bridges because they rode on the rooftops of the trucks conveying them. Another repatriation happened two years later.

Literacy is high in South Africa. But the jobs do not exist. South African black population seem not to have luck with business.

Politicians, including Julius Malema during the recent wave of attacks, have blamed the infamous "third hand" for the the crisis. This could mean that the white population is sponsoring the attacks to distract the poor and wretched black xenophobes from targeting whites. It was alleged by the Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) leader, Julius Malema, that white people are the reason why there is no job. How? Said he at a campaign rally, "because they have taken the money to banks". I asked Tobi if the attackers also touched the big companies, "no! The big companies here belong to the white. Whites are like god to them."

Meanwhile, Nigerians have quipped on twitter that the government will become vociferous only if cows were targeted in the attacks. A grim joke that smacks of ridicule and brings the failure of the President Buhari-led government to respond proactively to the herdsmen crisis. In lieu of responding, the government has been dyspeptic. Many Nigerians believe the tribal origin of the Commander-in-Chief is the reason for the handicapped response that crisis got. Buhari is Fulani, the killer herdsmen are nomadic Fulani tribesmen.

Is there an immediate solution to the social phenomenon? There seems to be no immediate solutions to social phenomenon. A fragment of a population and a minister suffering from mouth diarrhea does not make an entire nation guilty. Therefore, government sanctions logically do not enter the options yet. Repatriation is impossible. Nigeria's economic reality spells harshness. The total discomfort is the reason for having a large Nigerian population in South Africa. Any plan for repatriation is very likely to fail. Angry Nigerians have called for the picketing and disrupting of South African businesses in Nigeria but that hardly makes sense. It has no direct impact on the safety of Nigerians in South Africa and the call has lead to looting in a few locations in Lagos and violence in other parts of the country. The most disadvantaged are Nigerians. Pressure can be placed on South Africa to once again deploy its defense forces to secure lives and properties. In the long run, Nigerians should seek better economic growth at home by all means.

Notes & News Sources
1. https://web.archive.org/web/20081003222623/http://www.iss.co.za/dynamic/administration/file_manager/file_links/117FULL.PDF

2. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/05/03/in-south-africa-racial-divisions-and-pessimism-over-democracy-loom-over-elections/

Retrieved on Thursday September 5 at 12:37 am.

3. YouTube; ZAHziwa Entertainment South Africa 

4. https://dailypost.ng/2019/09/03/xenophobic-attack-south-african-freedom-fighter-malema-sends-strong-message-foreigners/

Retrieved Wednesday, September 5, 2019 at 02:00 pm. 

5. https://www.africanews.com/2019/04/01/stop-attacks-on-fellow-africans-malema-slams-south-africa-xenophobes//

Retrieved Wednesday, September 5, 2019 at 02:00 pm.

6. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3csvttz

7. Photo source: Michele Spatari http://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/03/world/africa/south-africa-immigrants.amp.html

Ojo, Aderemi is a Nigerian writer and editor. He publishes his articles on his website platinumderemi.com. He can be reached via email ojderemi@gmail.com

  • Connect On


Fiszy Sat September 7, 2019 at 2:52pm


Lily Sat September 7, 2019 at 3:10pm


Azeez Sat September 7, 2019 at 4:09pm


Abeni Sat September 7, 2019 at 4:52pm

Quite interesting!

Mighty',B Sat September 7, 2019 at 5:44pm

Eyes opener. Nice.

David Sat September 7, 2019 at 10:35pm

Quite intresting

Daoka Sun September 8, 2019 at 7:35pm


Folasade Mon September 9, 2019 at 2:30pm

Beautiful write up. Keep it up.







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