That Attack on Fellow Africans in South Africa


Segun Imohiosen


The recent spate of xenophobic display, atrocious and hideous attack on the African Brothers in South Africa looking for survival is disappointing, discouraging and very barbaric. In a civilized world, in this time and age, it would be very difficult for anyone to believe that South Africa for all the experience of apartheid and their eventual freedom could condescend to engage in such prejudice and this absurd show of intolerance.  Considering the collective African heritage so shared that is reflective in our life style, culture, tradition and others, this barbaric disparagement however, has made all of this of no consequential effect. That on African soil, an African can no longer have a sense of belonging is difficult to believe. If that is difficult here, then is it in Europe, Americas or the Asia will they then be accepted? That African Brothers could be set ablaze alive is very unbelievable.


Permit me to say that the cliché “one love” so very commonly used by our musicians, particularly our brothers from South Africa reminiscent of late brother Lucky Dube, the renowned South African singer/song writer Jonathan Butler and many others has appeared by this show of intolerance as being mere use of words without any positive impact on the African Brothers.


I wonder what Nigeria would have turned out to be today if the citizens have embarked on launching an onslaught against the African Brothers like the Ghanaians, the Liberians, the Sierra Leoneans, the guys from Niger and so many other black brothers who came to seek succour in Nigeria and have turned Nigeria to their second home and some have out rightly become Nigerians, doing so well and very successful here. In spite of the noise by the rest of the world on the height of crime rate in Nigeria; our people will never kill visitors. Lagbaja said in one of his songs that “all of us na the same”.  We may have different cultures and different nationalities that we all the same, we ought to be a family. The question is how you differentiate between a Ghanaian and Nigerian. This preaching of love by Lagbaja has more meaning here in Nigeria than in any of these other soils.


It is so discouraging that having gone through the "dark days" by the South Africans, one would have thought that the lessons learnt in those days could have affected their lives in such a way that they would have human feelings and love their fellow brothers just like themselves. But it is so very alarming, disappointing and very discouraging to realize that upon all the support the South Africans received from their African brothers within and in Diaspora in the days of apartheid that they could stoop so low and carry out such barbaric and horrendous act upon fellow African brothers. I conjecture that Botha probably assumed then, that if these people had their way, they would have done worse things to other people if they had been in Botha's shoes.


Isn't it surprising that this is the same people our dear former President Obj (Olusegun Obasanjo) once said that we should look for African juju, black magic to fight the Bothas and the likes on the side of South Africans against the apartheid masters. Remember, these were the same people the likes of Leopold Sedar Senghor, the great poet stuck his neck out to fight their wars through his poetry, the power of negritude - the blackness so preached is bastardized by this act. If Langston Hughes far away in America could so eulogize blackness, how then could this people make a mockery of African Heritage and try to mess with the destinies of people? If Martin Luther King Jr. stuck his neck out for black brothers in America, a land which ordinarily is not their original native land, then what of us blacks on the black African soil? Something is fundamentally wrong. Come on, this is insane. How in God's name will people of flesh and blood burnt fellow African brothers alive? People who were not caught stealing or engaged in any evil act? This is too bad? 


Pieter Bhota may not be absolutely as bad as imagined, considering the measure doled out in those days to the South Africans. My summation as it were is based on the fact that this attitude is not African at all. It is popularly said that we in Africa are more homely and very friendly in our disposition to other people, but this devilish and uncivil act make light of this thought pattern. What in God's name is the noise made about South Africa in terms of the development experienced politically and economically and in  physical terms when their minds are in darkness. Development if it starts in the mind has  a potent force in affecting the rest of the body. The development that makes a man vicious and cruel is nothing but barbarous as it were. This action only reminds me of what Jesus Christ said of the Pharisees ( a distinguished, developed and elitist class)  in the Holy Book that are like the beautiful white washed sepulchers (tombs) but have within ugly dead men bones. By this act, there is of course no difference in this description of the Pharisees and the South Africans so vividly depicted in the burning of fellow African Brothers. I still believe there is no country like Nigeria on the surface of the earth because we won’t treat fellow Africans like that.


MTN is from South Africa, Multichoice and the wines in South Africa have great market in Nigeria as one of my brothers observed. If then these people can survive in their country alone, why are they in other African soil doing business and living?  Should I then advise that we also embark on sending the South Africans packing from this land?  The international community and the rest of the world should not go to sleep on this matter without doing something. Report reaching us further said that these cold blooded killers were almost attacking a church all in the name of dragging out their African victim. This is too boisterous and ugly.   


See this “We come from a place where football is not simply a game but an enduring passion: we come from a place where our hearts beat in unison as we celebrate a shared destiny and love for the beautiful game with the human family. Africa is ready. Africa’s time has come. Africa is calling: come home to Africa in 2010”- South African President Thambo Mbeki is the one speaking here. There is no doubt that Africa is ready to host the world cup but is this attitude South Africans will mete out to the rest of the world in their country in 2010? I have great doubt in the safety the South Africans can promise the rest of the world in line with the "world cup" they will be hosting. However, I will advise every Foreigner out there to begin to work towards relocating to other places where safety can be guaranteed.


However, it occurred to me that the perpetrators of this illicit act are very much at sea at the negative economic implication of their action on the country at the long run. The bilateral relationship so enjoyed with other African Nations and the foreign counterparts could easily be lost if care is not taken. Disappointing though, these criminals have only succeeded in making other nations from now to go to bed on the on this matter concerning South Africa with one eye closed. If ties are cut off from South Africa, how on earth do they imagine they will fair if they are held or descried as a pariah nation? An observer has further espoused that the South Africa we see is only a time bomb waiting to explode at any moment. The angle explicated here left nothing to chance on the economic viability of that nation as saying that the carrying capacity of South Africa is ebbing and debilitating quite at an alarming proportion. This argument bothers on the fact that the other African nations with poor economic life milling into South Africa will in no time further weaken that nation. The fact remains that until other African nations attain economic viability, this experience may continue. One nation in the African states to appear viable without others attaining such position or some if not all will only create more trouble in the future.


Arguably as it were, the South Africans should realize that an economic vacuous vacuity could be created considering the number of professionals in medicine, computer, computer engineering, programming, engineering, accounting, real estate and a host of other professions from other nations and particularly from Nigeria that have helped the economy to grow and are still helping the economy to grow if they chose to withdraw their services. My question at this point is that if this kind of situation arose due to this xenophobic exhibition on the part of South Africans to other African brothers, how do they expect to cope? I am convinced that regardless of how professionally inclined the citizens of South Africa could be, they can’t do it all alone.


 This mayhem should be lampooned, lambasted and be repudiated by the rest of the world. This kind of illicit behaviour is not be fitting for a country so praised for the likes of  the Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a host of other statesmen in that place. I am just very miffed and disappointed at this disgraceful act. These are the kinds of people that make "them" equate some Africans still with the "apes". Good night my African Brothers, who are on the other side, sleep well, till we meet to part no more. O di gbere!


   Segun Imohiosen


    National Press Centre, Abuja.