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Xenophobia, Social Media, South Africa And The Rest Of Us



What exactly does this mouth filling word really mean? Surfing the social media one struggles to interpret it in its literal and exact meaning. We have seen and read of different reactions and even actions to this sad development on the African Continent. It is a tragedy of sort that this is happening in of all places Republic of South Africa home to Africa’s second largest economy and a place that could easily pass for most developed society on the continent. Sadly again and maybe just typical of us we are getting sucked into a spiral of emotions and failing woefully in the process to appreciate issues arising from this sad occurrences in South Africa.

The social media has taken ownership of the news stream and in every country it is sounding like it is only ‘my country and I’ that are victims; the Congolese feel same, the Tanzanians, Zimbabweans, Rwandans, and countless others feel same. But in Nigeria because those people that make up the majority of the affected are loud and have a voice the issue is being duly magnified. Well thank God for once we are uniting on something other than soccer.

Both Nigeria and South Africa seem to have long lost control of the situation. Xenophobia is a disease of the heart that is rooted in ethnocentrism and preys on system failures through gaps created by maladministration and mismanagement of a people’s resources, erosion of confidence in governments’ ability to secure its citizens’ overall well being. These failures coupled with deliberate misinformation about capacities to provide that which they cannot possibly provide fuel a people’s sense of entitlement. This is what we are dealing with today and will continue to have to deal with for a long time to come. It is present everywhere, it has no color, race, tribe or religion and it comes in any form and whatever form. Every element in the sociological frame of man can tip it off. In the United States of America Trump promised to make America great again, by building a wall that other countries will pay for because those countries’ citizens are criminals who infect Americans with their vices, create jobs that have been taken away through out-sourcing to other countries a policy of which himself is a beneficiary, rhetoricise against Islam and Muslims, criminalize every one not in agreement with him. The result is heightened racism and violence. It is xenophobia in any sense you want think it! In Europe Britain wants to exit EU essentially because the politicians made the people believe that there are no jobs because immigrants have evaded the country and taken over their jobs and opportunities. So what next? Brexit! An albatross they are now struggling to deal with. BREXIT is another level of Xenophobia.  Look at the situation in Libya today where humans are auctioned off like animals in a market place. Libyans are Africans it does not matter whether they are Barbars, Arabs, Tuaregs or whatever, they are fellow Africans and see how they treat other Africans, and Nigerians are victims here too. Go to what is happening in South Sudan.

Lets come closer home. That Ogboru coup de tat in 1989/90, what was it? Cast your minds back to that speech do you remember? He divided Nigeria and ostracized unequivocally some six states in the North of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, they are foreigners and do not belong to the Republic. I wonder what that was if not another level of this madness. It was a close call but for the intervention of the military back then. And recent happenings tell us graphically that these sentiments are just hovering below the surface. Remember the OPC “ revolution”? OPC is a south -West ethnic organization that literally declared every Hausa Fulani illegal immigrant in the late nineties just before return to democracy. Remember IPOB? What is happening between the Tivs and the Jukuns now? From where I stand these are all forms of Xenophobia only at different levels some more refined than others but the ideals are not inherently different. Some are not given to such massive levels of violence.

Every people everywhere love to blame others rather than themselves for their inadequacies real or perceived. It is difficult for a people to blame themselves for failures to achieve their dreams, failure to reach a level they are probably not even capable or equipped to reach. A people’s failure to aspire and reach that aspiration is part of what we are dealing with today and a lot of times the politicians are to blame. It is a failure of leadership.

I am not attempting to apologize for this tragedy, I won’t even dream of it let alone think about it.  God forbid! However we must be brutally objective in this matter if we must deal with it and get rid of it once and for all.

Everyday we are faced with xenophobic actions in some form or other what is important is lesson learnt from it. Rwanda has so far exhibited the highest form of rise from ashes in this kind of situation and they are better for it. Look at what happened in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Take a breath and look upon Tiv- Jukun, IPOB, OPC, Maitatsine, Liberia, Sierra Leone, etc, not xenophobic? Yes they are, you can’t equate them to xenpphobia because they happened within and mainly affected just the citizens of the country, while victims from other nations were just collateral damage.

It is bad enough that Nigerians are victims of this terrible tragedy but is our patriotism strong enough to fight it all out? I would say NO! We blame the government for not doing enough and we undermine it at every turn. Madam Ezekwesili and others are attending the WEF, which the Federal Government is boycotting in other to drive home its displeasure. Ezekwesili’s presence at that summit is a disgrace and an assault on our collective dignity. More so that her tribes men and women are in the majority among the victims population. This is woman that aspires to rule Nigeria. Well done Madam!

And wait for this; according to the Chairman of Air peace the airline working with the Foreign Affairs ministry to evacuate Nigerians free of charge some Nigerians are already out there duping their fellow countrymen and women of the process. The Airline received an email that informed them that some people are collecting $1000 as registration fee to qualify for evacuation. Really, really and REALLY Nigerians? I don’t know to laugh or cry over both developments.

Xenophobia is a multi-headed monster every one of us must rise up against, and that simply means that we have to rise up and go above our primordial sentiments. It requires that we begin to see ourselves as humans first before tribe or tongue or faithfuls. South Africans must realize that it is utmost low that and display of ignorance when you believe that you can grow and develop into a world-class economy without input from other nations. It is called isolationism and a world that has turned global village you risk being dropped out of the boat of prosperity. Know that no society ever prospers without contributions from outsiders. As a matter of fact foreigners built South Africa. The hard truth is that their government must address the socio-economic woes bedeviling its citizens and there are many. Blaming the presence foreigners won’t do, they must come out of their cocoon and be competitive in the different economic spheres.




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