FEATURE ARTICLE

Monday, September 9, 2019
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SOUTH AFRICA AND XENOPHOBIC CULTURE

outh Africa has abdicated the empire of reason and descended into the sickening level of biting the fingers that once fed her. It has drawn a battle line with the country that played a vanguard role in releasing her from the hideous shackles of apartheid policy to the pedestal of hope. Free at last from the putrefying and dehumanizing structure of governance, it embraced a repugnant and distasteful culture of xenophobia that has created a human rights calamity in South Africa.

Yes, for months South Africa has been enveloped in a swirl of xenophobic attack against Nigerians and other foreigners in order to forestall the doctrine of isolationism. We are saddened by the state of mayhem and looting directed against Nigerians resident in South Africa; appalled by the gross and persistent violation foreigners’ human rights, and worried about the sutured silence and inaction of the government of South Africa. While Nigerian security personnel guide South Africa’s interests in Nigeria, our nationals’ shopping malls are made vulnerable to looters.

Nigeria sheltered South Africans fleeing the oppressive apartheid system. The country has since been the target of their onslaught.

The incontestable wordings of principles in the declarations, covenants and some United Nations Resolutions that offered mankind hope and vision have no meaning in South Africa. Regardless of this, it is also incontestable that without T.V., videos, radio, and newspapers most ugly and despicable events swirling around the world would not be known or noticed. We owe much to the above sources that feed us with tragedies perpetuated by conflicts as well as state-sponsored crime against humanity. Many Nigerians have lost their lives to the barbaric sentence of xenophobic attacks in South Africa. These acts go contrary to the tenets of international law and Geneva Convention.

Nigerian citizens are provoked by the events in South Africa. The anger of Nigerian government simmers beneath the political surface. Nigerian youth have attempted to execute retaliatory actions against South African interests in Nigeria but had been restrained by the Nigerian security agency. However, South Africa should not underestimate the force of public opinion and anger when summoned to moral causes and concerns by the angry citizens. South Africa cannot claim to be immune to the force of public opinion.

The Berlin Wall crumbled not by the force of the gun, but by the flood of people’s opinion, giving victory to human rights as enshrined in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration Human Rights which proclaims the right of every citizen to leave any country, including his own. When this force of the people was unleashed decades ago, East German was powerless to wedge the surge. If it had dared, she could have failed. Not only failed but also contravened its signatory to the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. It is equally important to remind South Africa that it was the same force of public opinion that tore down the Berlin Wall that reversed American foreign policy in Vietnam.

The idea that foreigners cannot live fulfilling lives within the sovereign territory of South Africa will definitely receive its punch of public opinion. The momentum is gathering. South African policy makers should tighten their girdles.

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