It has been a long time since I engaged my Talking Pen audience because I have been busy with academic projects and demanding deadlines, but today, I decided to shut my eyes against those deadlines and lend my voice to the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians by South Africans. In a viral video, Nigerians were killed and wickedly dealt with by the citizens of South Africa; this video is horrifying and it pains my heart to know that even in Africa, there is fear of accommodating each other. We are Africans, how do we achieve the ‘Africa we Want’ by whatsoever set date if we betray each other? When two Africans from different countries meet in another world, how will they relate and have a common ground as Africans if this is the trend we choose to follow? The term ‘xenophobia’ should be a forgotten word; fear of foreigner for what? South Africans, this is 21st century. Perhaps, I need to refresh your brain about the fact that it is a world of globalization and integration. If you don’t want foreigners in your country, remember to put a poster to that effect in all your airports to intimate all and sundry. Resorting to violence is barbaric, and of course, archaic!
That said! I am really pissed with the event but, do we really think two wrongs make a right? Resorting to violence because of what has been done is like doing the exact thing you condemn; it isn’t wise to reduce ourselves to their barbaric acts. It was reported that young Nigerians reacted to the video by burning down MTN offices, ShopRite and anything that smells or reads South Africa. I understand the pain and the agony we are experiencing right now because of the news. These wanton attacks have been an event that is becoming overbearing and reoccurring and it seems no one is taking any action against the perpetrators; they seem to grow stronger in their deeds. Can destruction of South African establishments located in Nigeria solve the issue on ground? Far from it! Can violence and harsh reactions reduce the number of Nigerians killed over there? I so much doubt the positivity. The reality we are yet to understand is that destroying the properties we thought are the possessions of South Africans is tantamount killing ourselves; we are destroying ourselves.
MTN and ShopRite are big investments in the country, employing a large number of people. The destruction of these organisations’ properties might only lead to more people being out of jobs, hungrier individuals and maybe, more people falling below the poverty line. Asides the employment outcomes that can be directly affected by these reactions, have we ever thought about who exactly own these organisations, especially MTN? Need me to clarify it is a public limited company? There are many Nigerians that own equities in the company and any injury done to it is like killing the same set of people you seek to secure. There are many ways to get justice other than through jungle justice, destruction of properties in a misdirected anger; it should be organised and better channeled.
Let’s channel our anger to forming a united youth that can’t be divided by ethnicity or tribe and fight for the good of the country even from within. Let’s channel the burning anger in us to our government that shows lackadaisical attitudes to the welfare of its people. Let’s channel this strength on engaging in talks and dialogues to show that truly ‘enough is enough’— we need visible change. The fact remains that after a week, the event will be forgotten – even by the attackers; there would be something else to talk about. The question I asked severally among my colleagues is; after the destruction of properties, what is the next action to ensure it doesn’t repeat itself? I don’t think the young Nigerians gave a thought about that before taking to violence and practicing what they intend to preach against.
Many people support the reactions as an excuse for the nonchalant attitude of the Nigerian government on the killings going on in South Africa. Yes, the governments of both countries should start speaking and acting up! The attacks are not alien to us; it has happened several times with no adequate responses from the appropriate quarters. By now, the Nigerian government should have sanctioned the South African government and demand for justice and punishment for the perpetrators. By now, South African Ambassador should be put on his feet, looking for ways to return peace between the two countries. By now, South African government should have commenced an investigation to fish out the culprits. However, these are normative statements; hopefully, they become positive statements.
In conclusion, recall the words of a legend, Mahatama Ghandi: An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind. A tit for tat isn’t a game of the human race anymore. We are of the same skin colour, if we can’t live with that fact then I am afraid; Africa has lost the way. I need to stress that no one can ever get a right-angle by drawing a wrong-angle; it has to be right! Two wrongs never make a right because there is always a right way to solve a matter.
I rest my case!