South Africa has pledged to invest in cultural exchange programmes in Nigeria with a view to strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.
Mr Bobby Moroe, the acting High Commissioner of South Africa to Nigeria, stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday on the sidelines of the 10th Nelson Mandela International Day in Abuja.
He said that although the bond between both countries was being strained by xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa, concerted efforts would be made to strengthen bilateral relations between both countries.
The envoy, therefore, promised to partner with the Nigerian government and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to promote cultural exchange between the two countries.
“We shall work closely with the Federal Government of Nigeria and meet with NANS to hear what they have to say about the idea.
“One critical issue we will discuss is the need for us to conduct what we call cultural exchange programme between the youths of Nigeria and the youths of South Africa.
“It is important that we have to share the story – the narrative of the history between the two countries for posterity.
“It will help our youths in terms of cultural tolerance and understanding for the future of Nigeria and South Africa.
“It is important that we preach this narrative of the long-standing cordial relations and history between Nigeria and South Africa, which is not shaken and not about to be shaken,” he said.
Moroe, who said that the relations between Nigeria and South Africa were built on a solid foundation, added that more would be done to strengthen the ties.
He insisted that South Africans were not xenophobic by nature as foreigners living in the country had been integrated in the larger part of the society.
“We have Nigerians who are married to South Africans.
“We have our colleagues in Abuja and Lagos for many years who when they came here were alone, but left with love.
“They got married here; some married Nigerians while others got married in South Africa.
“I want to tell you that South Africans are not xenophobic,” he said.
South Africa is a multi-ethnic society with a variety of cultures and religions.
It has 11 official languages and is bounded by 2,798 km of coastline that stretches along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans.