By Edafe Mukoro
The first thought that comes to mind in this xenophobic deposition of South Africans is the fact of their selective tendencies. In part one of this article: https://geraldtimes.com/xenophobia-in-south-africa-lessons-for-nigeria-and-africa-1/, we established that the word “xenophobia” demonstrates no selective characteristics, rather the key element in its meaning is the word “foreign”. By this we mean to stress that the xenophobic attack on “black” Africans (only) is not only clearly deliberate but cowardly as well. Now, this is not a way of calling for the spread of this devilish act against other races – far from it. We do not encourage nor aspire to such debase depths at Geraldtimes.
At this point, the lessons to be learnt from this xenophobia are crucial to Nigeria and other African nations as they forge ahead. I have carefully taken my time to brood over this issue.
Consequently, three lessons strike the mind in my evaluation. These are the fragmentation of Africa; building economic capacity; and educational pursuits.
First, the current reality that Nigerians and Africans in general seem to struggle with is that our culture of communalism is no longer tenable in this present socio-economic world order. The pan-Africanism era of the Kwame Nkrumahs and the Julius Nyereres is over. Africans must embrace the fact that globalization has fragmented them. The people should begin to quickly work towards self-reliance and disabuse their minds from the expectation-attitude associated with the African version of the principles of brotherhood.
The fact that you are an African is no longer a good enough passport for survival in the continent. The demised victims of the xenophobic attacks least expected that their brutal encounter with death would be masterminded by their “brothers” in Nelson Mandela’s country.
Second, Nigeria and other African countries must see this xenophobic experience as a blessing in disguise so that effective and practical steps can be taken to spur economic growth and development. African governments must begin to create the enabling environment for economic opportunities in their respective countries, by doing so their citizens will find it unattractive to venture into neighboring countries in a quest for the elusive Golden Fleece. This is especially true for countries like Zimbabwe, whose economic challenges caused her citizens to flee into South Africa. I want to believe that these countries must be presently re-evaluating their present circumstances triggered-off by this recent unpalatable experience.
Third, school curricular in the continent should be re-designed to accommodate these histories. Nigerian and African children and those yet unborn must be taught these historical facts. African leaders should not sweep this experience under the carpet. Five years ago in South Africa, some Africans were slaughtered and true to type, it was quickly swept under the carpet by these African leaders. The recent xenophobic attacks are a repeat of the past where actions were not taken to forestall a future occurrence.
These leaders should do well to let their people know that living in other African countries does not guarantee security and brotherly love. These realities were hitherto the order of the day but not anymore. These are the real hard facts of today’s socio-economic world order. Those who have ears let them hear.
I will end this piece with a quote from a popular Nigerian legal practitioner Festus Keyamo: “I have purged my conscience, now I can sleep in peace.”
Edafe Mukoro tweets as @RealEdafeMukoro on twitter.