Subscribe Now

* You will receive the latest news and updates on your favorite celebrities!

Trending News

Global News Update

Xenophobia: Effects on South Africa and Nigeria

Xenophobia: Effects on South Africa and Nigeria 

-Oluyemi Fayomi

The recent surge of deadly xenophobic attacks in South Africa is triggering concern in several African countries. The deaths have sparked reprisal attacks and calls for an end to the operation of South African businesses in Nigeria. But tens of thousands of Nigerian jobs could be at stake. Days after reprisal attacks on South African-owned businesses in the Nigerian capital, it’s not business as usual for Moses Iyuagba.

His corner shop business near Abuja has been spared. But, Iyuagba says he is still worried after angry protesters raided the offices of South African communications giant MTN and its affiliate, Shoprite, halting operations. “It’s like four days now I’ve not been to the office. Presently as I’m speaking with you people, my stock is going down,” Iyuagba said.

This is not the first time xenophobic attacks on Nigerian nationals in South Africa have triggered reprisals. Similar incidents happened after attacks in South Africa killed 62 people in 2008 and seven more in 2015.

Hundreds of protesters took to this street after recent attacks killed at least five people last week. One of them, Ali Yusuf, accuses the South African government of not addressing the issue.

“Why can’t South Africans leave Nigerians in their country to go about their businesses? Yusuf asked. We have made Nigeria comfortable for them; we’re not disturbing them, we’re not burning down their houses or businesses.”

South Africa is a major destination for economic migrants across Africa, including Nigerians. But foreign workers often face anti-immigrant violence for competing against locals for jobs, usually in low-skilled sectors.

South Africa’s high commissioner, Bobby Moroe, was summoned by authorities here. He has condemned the attacks.

“Over the past 25 years or so we’ve been through a number of challenges but what has always come to our rescue [is] the strong bond of friendship and kinship between South Africa and Nigeria. So our government condemns by all means violence against any individual,” Moroe said.

South Africa’s huge investments provide employment and livelihoods for several thousand Nigerians. Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, says the government is consulting with its South African counterparts to address the issue.

“We feel, the Nigerian government that very definitive measures have to be taken to stop once and for all these acts of aggression, criminality against Nigerians in South Africa,” Onyeama said. Many Nigerians, however, continue to demand an end to South African operations in the country.

For now, major South African businesses in Nigeria are shut down indefinitely while people like Iyuagba, whose jobs depend on them, wait for a return to business as usual.

Xenophobia is a dislike and/or fear of that which is unknown or different from one. It comes from the Greek words (xenos), meaning “stranger,” “foreigner” and (Phobos), and meaning “fear.” The term is typically used to describe a fear or dislike foreigners or of people significantly different from oneself, usually in the context of visibly differentiated minorities.

In effect, recent waves of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa bring into stark reality the preponderance of Nigerian business community in post apartheid South African economy. The attacks in which more than 60 persons were killed and thousands displaced attracted diplomatic intervention by the Nigerian state. Even though no Nigerian was killed in that wake of the violent xenophobic attack, many lost their properties and their shops were looted; an indication of an orchestrated attack on the businesses of Nigerians in South Africa.

Historical Overview of Nigeria-South Africa Relations The history of Nigeria-South Africa relations could be traced to events arising from the Sharpeville massacre of 21st March, 1960, when the South African police shot and killed 72 blacks and wounded 184 (Wilmot, 1980:9; Zabadi and Onuoha, 2012:439; Akinboye, 2013:18). This event which occurred even before Nigeria’s independence marked the beginning of Nigeria’s confrontation against white South Africa. The Tafawa Balewa government (1960-1966) upon assumption of office in October 1, 1960 was faced with overwhelming pressure from both domestic and external sources to institute measures to check South Africa’s apartheid policies.
Consequently, Nigeria banned the importation of South African goods into the country and was instrumental to the political and economic sanctions passed against the racist regime. Furthermore, Balewa went to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference in March 1961 in London, where he spearheaded the move that led to the withdrawal of South Africa from the Commonwealth (Aluko, 1982; Ajala, 1986 & 1993). By 1962, Nigeria terminated all the privileges of Commonwealth membership which South Africans enjoyed in Nigeria. Nigeria government’s anti-apartheid policy continued until the first republic was ousted by Major Nzeogwu-led military coup in January 15, 1966.
The military coup of January 15, 1966 which seized power from the Balewa’s regime brought Aguiyi Ironsi’s transition to the helm of affairs. The brief administration of General Ironsi between January-July 1966 did not record any substantial policy against the apartheid regime in South Africa, due largely to the volatile security situation in Nigeria that was
precipitated by the coup (Ademoyega, 1981).
Following the take-over of the reins of government in Nigeria in July 29, 1966 by the military-led administration of Yakubu Gowon after the assassination of General Aguiyi Ironsi, a slightly modified policy towards South Africa was adopted.
The new policy which was based on boycott and confrontation with white minority regime in South Africa led to a proclamation declaring white South Africans prohibited immigrants in Nigeria. The Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970 further deepened the conflict in Nigeria-South Africa relations, upon realization that South Africa was sabotaging the effort of Nigeria in the war. Yakubu Gowon strengthened his anti-apartheid policy as a result, and this was continued
after the war when Nigeria became even much more financially buoyant as her oil resources contributed enormous foreign currency to her coffers than hitherto, and the country was able to play a confident and much more dynamic role in
world affairs (Ajala, 1993).
The Murtala Mohammed government (1975-1976) that overthrew the Gowon administration through a coup was, right from the outset, prepared to take radical measures in Africa’s decolonization process. The Angolan crisis of 1975 provided an opportunity for the Nigeria government to demonstrate her commitment to the anti-apartheid struggle by resolving the political stalemate in the former (Fafowora),
1984; Ogunsanwo, 1986; Gambari, 2008; Onuoha, 2008; Akinboye, 2013). Following the killing of General Mohammed in the abortive coup led by Colonel Buka Dimka in July 1976, General Olusegun Obasanjo continued the same radical approach in the country’s foreign policy relations with South Africa. Thus, General Obasanjo’s administration was widely
perceived as a continuation of Murtala Mohammed administration (Nnoli, 1976; Ajala, 1986, Garba, 1987).
In the 1980s, Nigeria-South Africa relations witnessed these phases: the civilian administration of Shehu Shagari, and the succeeding military administrations of Muhammad Buhari and Ibrahim Babangida. Yet there was hardly any difference in their pursuit of Nigeria-South Africa relations. For instance, the second republic administration of Shehu Shagari (1979-1983) was encumbered by a number of domestic challenges which bordered on its inability to deliver on his electoral
promises, coupled with sharp decline in oil revenues. These two factors largely affected Nigeria-Africa policies and had serious implications for Nigeria-South Africa relations. This was evident in the administration’s inability to contribute financially to the fight against apartheid in South Africa (Ajala,1986).

Related posts