As South Africa resumes xenophobic attacks today, it has become evident that diplomacy may add only marginal value. While leaders may speak grammar and sign papers, changing the trajectory the South Africans attackers want to pursue may be hard. Simply, they want to control their 100% even though the “individual pieces” are getting smaller [youth unemployment in South Africa for blacks is high, and economic growth has not effectively compensated for population growth]. Largely, in their minds, they have one choice since the alternative is doom: if the foreigners leave, we could thrive, but if they stay here we are sure of economic extinction. So, they march with violence to expunge those foreigners out of South Africa. Already, 400 Nigerians are ready to depart South Africa.
At least one fatality has been recorded and five people receiving treatment at the hospital after a xenophobic march in South Africa turned violent on Sunday, local media reported.
The violence broke out on Sunday afternoon when hostel residents across the commercial hub of Johannesburg took to the streets to demand immediate deportation of foreigners, eNCA television reported.
The private broadcaster cited the police as confirming one person had been killed and five hospitalised. The deceased was reportedly stabbed to death
Their thinking of using violence is wrong, but you do not need to go to South Africa to see that within nations, nano-conflicts are emerging. I used the word “nano-conflicts” for Africa first in 2009, in a print article in Harvard Business Review. I later used it again in 2011 for the dislocations that technology would enable. This was my conclusion:
Sub-Saharan Africa could witness major crises fueled by job losses and reduced incomes. Lack of capability to transition to new industries or markets will make these crises prolonged with effects that will affect their political and economic stability. The world will potentially see clusters of nano-conflicts across African cities and villages when mining and extraction offer little economic values unless Africa develops a knowledge strategy and transforms itself to a knowledge-power.
The South African conflict is at inter-border level, but within borders, economic turbulence is clearly evident across ethnic groups in most countries. Yet, Africa has not even started seeing conflicts. My personal model is that by 2027 when nanomaterials will go mainstream replacing rubber, cotton and other commodities, and in the process displacing most people from their means of livelihoods, Africa will experience severe conflicts [I pray I am wrong!].
I do not share this lightly but as I noted in 2011 in that piece – Clusters of Nano-Conflicts, we have less than 10 years to save this continent from ruin: “There are possibilities that new nanomaterials will become good alternatives for many existing commodities (eg, rubber, copper, cotton, platinum, etc) and incrementally, the commodity markets and industries could be disrupted, or even demised. The implication is massive trade and unemployment dislocations that could pose serious security implications in commodity-dependent nations.”
America now eats meatless burger (meat not made from animals but from plants), and milk that does not come from animals. They are close to getting tons of cotton, rubber, etc from labs. We may be eating our commodity very soon. When that happens, we will see that what South Africans are doing now is a child’s play.
Yet, Africa can avert this; Ozioma has a roadmap for South Africa. Other African countries can use that playbook too.
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