Globalisation is a phenomenon embedded in bio-cultural flows and interconnections. It is not innocent and this underscores the reason emotions as well as hot debates are occasionally evoked. But despite all these, globalisation remains the sturdy fabric of peace, harmony, understanding, economic progress and oneness of humanity. Our world is a web of interrelationships. However, each country regulates these movements and activities due to a myriad of factors like insecurity and cultural pollution which are capable of threatening its existence as a collectivity. Therefore, it is normal for Nigerians to travel to and live in South Africa within the framework of the latter’s constitution. The same scenario applies to the South African nationals who want to enter Nigeria for legitimate reasons.
However, foreigners who commit crimes must be dealt with within the ambit of the law. This is a matter of the utmost significance and seriousness. Modernity is anchored in this reality. The indigenous African values are firmly enshrined in utmost respect for human lives and their materialities. Unfortunately, Europeanisation at various time-periods have robbed most African societies of this great heritage.
One concomitant effect of this ugly situation can be understood against the backdrop of the incessant savage attacks of Nigerians and to a lesser extent, Kenyans, Mozambicans and Zimbabweans among others by the South African blacks who perceive foreign Africans in their country as a great economic and social threat. This is a very sad commentary on South Africa given the dynamic roles many African countries played when the white settlers were maiming and harassing black South Africans during the dark days of apartheid rule. All the xenophobic attacks and of course, judicial killings of black foreigners particularly Nigerians are an encapsulation of thoughtlessness, spiritlessness, maximum ingratitude and savagery of the South African people. Many years ago, our own former President Olusegun Obasanjo suggested that Nigeria should liberate the South African blacks (who were being decimated by their notorious white settlers/masters/oppressors) with the aid of juju – a type of African magical force. But painfully, Nigerians today are getting unwarranted aggression from the South African blacks who should have known better. They lack a sense of history since their memories are just like a sieve.
There were xenophobic attacks in 1995, 2006, 2015 and again, 2017. Unprovoked aggression has become a recurring decimal in modern-day South African political engineering. South African political leaders specifically Mbeki and Zuma have failed to show political will to crush this menace. Their public utterances and general body language support violence against foreigners. Thus, for example, Zuma (the incumbent President) said last week that the Friday, February 24, 2017 anti-migrants’ protest was a demonstration against criminality. It is pertinent to note here, that the Zulu king – Goodwill Zwalithini made inflammatory remarks that led to the xenophobic attacks of 2015. These leaders and their followers do not appreciate the fact that crimes and criminality are an integral part of human society. They (crimes and criminality) have no geographical and/or political boundaries. Crimes can be reduced to the barest minimum through the lenses of appropriate, enforceable rules and regulations.
African Union has to diplomatically cut South Africa to size before it starts infecting other African countries with its virus of savagery. AU can never attain its primary goal of integrating African countries economically, politically and socially in view of the current mindset of the South African blacks and their political leaders. Education rather than mere training is of the essence! This harassment including deportation of Nigerians from South Africa, Libya and Europe is ‘food for thought.’ Nigerians in the diaspora will be treated with dignity once there is economic and political stability at home. The “exodus” of young Nigerians abroad for greener pastures is gradually robbing the country of its dignity and pride. Nigerians are already being humiliated even by our neighbours like Benin Republic and Ghana. For instance, several shops belonging to Nigerians were sealed off in 2008 and 2015 at the Accra main market in Ghana. These Nigerian traders were banned from selling certain categories of goods including electric/electronic gadgets. Another “Nigeria Must Go” episode is imminent. Therefore, the Federal Government has to critically examine the matter from a holistic perspective (beyond the condemnatory scale) so that Nigeria can begin to regain its lost economic and political glories.
Ogundele is a professor in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Ibadan.