As the gory images of killing and maiming, burning and looting litter the social media, we are pathetically reminded once again that the scores are far from being settled. Cut across corrupt, inept, insecurity, and now xenophobic lines; integration is far from achievable in Africa.
There is concern that South African trend of xenophobic attacks on migrants of African origin is setting a precedent of contagious reprisals. Since the government has failed to address the issue head on, many believe that the recurrences are suggesting that the South African hooligans are doing the government’s bidding. A situation that many fear will escalate to diplomatic dysfunction sooner than imagined.
The responses of other countries who their citizens have been victims in the latest attacks suggest more of a drastic payback measure. The Nigerian Government didn’t take a seat to issue a stern statement on that matter. It says:
“The continuing attacks on Nigerians nationals and businesses in South Africa are unacceptable. Enough is enough. Nigeria will take definitive measures to ensure the safety and protection of her citizens.
“Last week, president Buhari met with President Ramaphosa, on the sidelines of TICAD7, in Japan, to discuss this. Further discussions scheduled for October 2019, during President Buhari’s official to South Africa. In the meantime, Nigeria will take further steps to ensure safety of citizens in South Africa.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister of Nigeria, Geoffrey Onyeama, in response to the xenophobic attacks tweeted:
Received sickening and depressing news of continued burning and looting of Nigerian shops and premises in South Africa by mindless criminals with ineffective police protection. Enough is enough. We will take definitive measures.”
It sounds more like a retaliatory threat from a man pushed beyond his limit. And he is not the only one who complained from Nigeria. The Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa also tweeted:
“Sad, reports from South Africa attacking foreigners. I can’t verify most of the videos. However, whatever decisions to be taken now can only be at the Ministerial level. AU intervention may be crucial. This is not what we should be doing to ourselves as Africans.”
But Nigerians are saying that it’s not the first time the foreign ministries will have to issue statements on attacks on foreigners in South Africa, and by the look of things, it’s not going to be the last.
It is a perception that South African Government’s response and that of her people has enabled. The South African Deputy Minister of Police, Bongani Mkongi told the press:
“The question is: How can a city in South Africa be 80% foreign nationals, that is dangerous. You won’t find South Africans in other countries dominating a city up to 80%… we can’t surrender South Africa to foreign nationals.”
On Twitter, many South Africans have been tweeting in defense of the attacks, saying that it’s a national duty. A South African Twitter user tweeted:
“You enter a foreign country illegally, sell drugs, traffic people, evade tax, and when citizens get tired and deal with you decisively, you cry xenophobia.”
This tweet represents how most South African youths feel about foreigners. A situation that many have attributed to joblessness. The Spectator Index reported that at 29%, South Africa has the highest rate of youth unemployment in the world. That, many believe has created enough force of jobless people who find employment in attacking foreigners and looting their businesses in the name of fighting crime – a job the police are there for.
The attacks seem more grave this time than ever before, with many barbaric instances of people being burnt alive going viral on social media.
However, Nigerians have been voicing their disappointment in the South African people with the hashtag #EnoughisEnough. They are saying that Nigeria does not in any way deserve to be treated this way by South Africans, owing to the fact that Nigeria played the big brother role during the apartheid regime, spending about $61 billion to liberate them from oppression. So the least they could do is give Nigerians the brotherly treatment. Many have also vowed to boycott DSTV, Shoprite, MTN and every other business of South African origin in Nigeria.