There’s No Reason for Xenophobia in South Africa, Not Even Bad Governance!

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first published on Viva-Naija

I received an article as the Public Relations head and Editor for the Nigerian Lives Matter website. The writer alluded to his various reasons for xenophobia in South Africa. Talking about Nigerian drug cartels and Somalian kidnappers.

He later followed it up with some interesting notes about how he has a lot of Nigerian friends who are investing and doing a lot of great work in SA. As if to appease the reader.

We refused to publish the statement for good reasons. Despite how common this line of thought is, we cannot affiliate with ideas that enable crime and hate. No matter how influential you are, you shouldn’t go about making baseless suggestions about Nigerian drug cartels and other similar stereotypes that have fuelled xenophobia.

Are you a police officer in South Africa? Which drug cartels do you know?

Kemi Olunloyo was also on Twitter with a similar position. She claims she heard the story of some Ozubulu boys selling drugs in SA. Many of these people like Kemi Olunloyo rely on WhatsApp broadcasts and isolated cases to generalize about what they think is happening in South Africa.

We must be aware of the consequences of such statements and how they endanger the lives of innocent Nigerians the world over.

Is it those criminals that are being attacked? Are they the ones afraid of sleeping well and getting killed in their homes?

These statements show the level of illiteracy we tolerate in Africa.

Kate Henshaw and a few other celebrities also claim that we are being treated this way because Nigeria is bad.

As much as these sentiments pretend to have some element of validity, they’re so lightweight. Do we think the persons breaking into stores and stabbing foreigners in SA have ever bought a flight ticket to see what Nigeria looks like?

All he knows is that the media says Nigeria is horrible and so he thinks his own mess will be better without the foreigners. He knows he might one day need a visa to Europe or China so he will never attack those citizens, even when they commit heinous crimes right in front of him.

All those at the receiving end of attacks are those from countries whose economies have been rendered unstable by bad press, lazy politics and grossly offensive leadership.

Is it the citizen’s fault that his country has structural problems? No.

You can blame a man for being a thief but you cannot blame him for his nationality. Let them catch a thief and we would all agree that he must be prosecuted but no, let us burn down the city and kill each other because someone said Nigerians are drug lords. Let us burn Shoprite because they are burning our people.

After we have finished burning on both sides, let’s see who will be left to pick the pieces. The vultures are circling in the air. They stake out our nations just waiting for the right time to start giving out underhanded aids, loans, and infrastructure that would perpetuate the underdevelopment of Africa.

And until we realise that no country is an Eldorado, we will continue to enable the bad press about Nigeria.

There’s no easier way to undersell a continent than this. Africa will continue to sell out at piecemeal prices to foreign powers because we empower criminals.

I am a Nigerian living in South Africa and I am proud of the education Nigeria provided for me. I am proud of my family and the environment I grew up in as every decent Nigerian should be.

I didn’t leave Nigeria looking for greener pastures. I wanted the experience of learning in a new cultural space and with a more global mindset. I have achieved a lot of that. And I am happy South Africa is part of this experience.

The people I am ashamed of are the street urchins who listen to “intellectuals” that refuse to censor their tongues.

Here in SA, like the AKA celebrity on Twitter, these intellectuals talk down on foreigners. They say things like “go back to your country” or “we don’t listen to foreigners”. Even when they know that the foreigner is adding value to a situation. Their minds are closed to the world around them.

In Nigeria, we have intellectuals who talk about all the bad things in Nigeria but will never make an effort to improve the situation of the country. Many of these people can link their entertainment labels to education and grow that sector. Many of our celebrities can bring the nation to her knees if they wanted to.

Seyi Makinde is a governor in Oyo State that has proven that Nigeria can be fixed in a year. Yet, I heard that some old civil servants were angry he brought in a young commissioner. These are not illiterates. They are also intellectuals who should know better.

So as you can see. We have intellectuals misusing their platforms both in SA and Nigeria. And these street urchins just need an excuse to start causing mayhem. Now they are using xenophobia as an excuse to burn MTN offices and looting Shoprite in Lagos, how has that helped anyone?

Does that mean the street urchins here in SA will start to listen?

The reason we are posting and writing all of this is for the benefit of those of you who are online and can read. Stop making it seem like Nigerians deserve to be treated anyhow anywhere.

We can fight xenophobia and police brutality at the same time. We can channel the same energy to all these issues.

Nobody is killing Nigerians because Nigeria is bad.

Murderers are just murderers. What we are asking for is that those of us with any iota intellect should pressure every instrument of government to do their jobs. Tweet at the President of Nigeria and call out all these ministers. Minister Aregbesola has not made any statement that I know of and he is the new Minister of Interior.

Some government agencies will rather look to Nonprofit organizations to come up with projects that engage citizens in dialogue. Sending envoys and wasting tax payer’s money will not address the gross disrespect that is attached to human life in our countries.

Nigerians, wake up. You are not the worst people in the world. There are 200+ Million of us, why do you think we won’t be easy targets for criminals who are hungry for free food and thirsty for blood?

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