An International Relations expert, Prof. Taiwo Akinyele, says the current Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa is a reflection of frustration and underdevelopment.
Akinyele, Head of Department, History and Strategic Studies, University of Lagos, made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.
He said that many circumstances had prepared the way for xenophobia in South Africa.
According to him, the most important factor is that of underdevelopment. It can be said that South Africa is a first world country in third world countries.
“But notwithstanding, extreme poverty and inequality are still in existence in the country.
“Wealth in South Africa is not well distributed just like we have in many countries in the world.
“Less than 42 per cent of the population is employed and you find that infrastructure is concentrated in a particular area, with blacks remaining where they have always been.
“This position of South Africa is very critical and can be traced to the aftermath of their apartheid struggle.
“They believed that once apartheid was over every other good things would follow,’’ Akinyele, also a Professor of African Studies said.
NAN reports that Apartheid, a system of institutionalised racial segregation existed in South Africa from 1948 until the 1990s.
It made laws that forced the different racial groups, minority white and majority blacks to live separately and unequally.
This led to the rise of the African National Congress (ANC), formerly known as the South African Native National Congress (SANNC), a Congress that fought against Apartheid till South African gained their independence in 1961.
According to Akinyele, South Africans were promised a better life in the ANC freedom charter, including a more abundant life and redistribution of land.
“When Nelson Mandela took over in 1994, he promised to build one million houses every year, electrify 2.5 million houses, 10 years of free education for citizens to catch up.
“Thirty per cent of the land was to be redistributed in the reconstruction and development programme, but it is one thing to make promises and another thing to fulfill them.
“After all these, they were not able to go anywhere which led Winnie Mandela to become one of the most vocal critics of ANC because what was promised was not delivered,” he said.
He said that the Frustration Aggression Theory also leads to xenophobic attacks.
Akinyele described this theory as that in which the masses become frustrated as a result of under-performance of the government and in return, transfer their aggression on foreigners they perceive as competitors.
“It is an instance where government says well, we have not been able to provide certain things, because there are so many foreigners taking up benefits meant for you,’’ he said.
Akinyele also made reference to how Nigeria was of great help to South Africa during their apartheid struggles.
“What many Nigerians will say is that we helped them during the apartheid period, but we have been treated with ingratitude.
“A basic question is why it seems that they don’t remember the good things Nigeria did and the roles played by our government?
“Many ANC leaders, including Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela himself sought refuge in Nigeria.
“It is true that Africa and Nigeria in particular, contributed in cash and kind.
“But, South Africa does not see it as an altruistic gesture. They see it as a reward of the activities of ANC leaders in exile,” he said.
NAN reports that following the recent wave of attacks on foreigners, Nigeria pulled out of the World Economic Forum for Africa scheduled to hold in Cape Town, South Africa, from Sept. 4 to Sept. 6. (NAN)
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