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XENOPHOBIA: Why South Africa Should Be Eternally Grateful To Nigeria

xenophobia in South Africa

It was apparent that the recent xenophobic attacks mostly targeted Nigerians, especially in Rosetenville, a suburb in Johannesburg where Nigerians allegedly run empires of drug den and other criminal activities.

The attacks led to the damage of properties belonging to Nigerians and other foreigners. One of the Nigerian nationals who lost all his properties to the recent attacks is Mr. Jaiyeola Balogun, the co-owner of Simon Auto Mechanic Workshop located on 442 Christoffel Street, Pretoria West.

He had owned the workshop since 2009. Balogun claimed he lost R7 million to the attacks after his workshop was vandalized and burnt down around 4am on Sunday, February 5, 2017. He said his shop was razed down together with  29 cars, equipment, and other belongings.

Another Nigerian, simply identified as Okon, who once owned a boutique on Rosazitta Street, Pretoria West, reportedly said his apartment and visa were burnt during the attack.

Though no life was lost in the recent attacks, Africans and the world at large have condemned the violence; with some people already tagging the attacks as ‘Afrophobic.’

Touching on the matter, an outspoken Nigerian author and political analyst, Jude Ndukwe said the attacks on Nigeria shows South Africa is very ungrateful. Ndukwe stressed that South Africa could have probably remained in the darkness of apartheid, if not for the help of countries like Nigeria and others.

He recalled that Nigeria played major roles in seeing to it that freedom and independence were granted to South Africa. The analyst recalled that Nigeria was the first country to provide direct financial aid to the African National Congress from the 1960s.

Likewise in the 1970s, Nigeria supported the ANC and the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) with an annual subvention of $5 million to help them in the struggle.

Ndukwe added: “Nigeria set up a program to cater specifically for their educational needs and general welfare through the Southern Africa Relief Fund (SAFR) to which then-president General Olusegun Obasanjo contributed $3.7 million. Obasanjo made a personal donation of $3 000, while every member of his cabinet made donations of $1 500 each to the South African cause. Civil servants gave two percent of their income to the fund, then known as the “Mandela Tax”. Students joyfully skipped their lunch at school just to be able to contribute to the fund.”

Ndukwe said that in six months’ time, the fund had amassed $10.5 million sent to the South Africans.” He added that SAFR reported that 86 South African students were educated in Nigeria for free and that Nigeria spent well over $61 billion between 1960 and 1995 to help fight apartheid and bring about democracy in South Africa.

Ndukwe lamented that despite Nigeria’s contribution to the struggle, South Africa relegated its leaders and some African heads to the background when Nelson Mandela died. He said South Africa rather gave Western leaders the front seats and prominent roles.

Ndukwe ended his speech by saying if South Africa wants to be “ungrateful” to Nigeria it should not kill Nigerians.

The Nigerian government has since condemned the attack and asked the South African government to tackle the outbreak. Many human activists have cited comments made by Johannesburg’s mayor Herman Mashaba in December, as the cause of the rising tide of public xenophobia. Mashaba had equated immigrants living in the country to ‘criminals’. See

Despite South Africa being beset by racial inequality and high unemployment, the country has long been a magnet for migrants from around Africa, and beyond, because of its progressive laws, porous borders, and advanced economy.

During the 2015 xenophobic violence that erupted in Durban and Johannesburg, at least seven people died while thousands were prompted to flee. Another outbreak of violence in 2008 left at least 67 people dead.


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