Xenophobia can simply be defined as the fear of strangers or foreigners. In the socialization of every man, he is expected to have started living from his family, and gradually to other stages which is school environment in most cases. In this socialization process, some find it difficult to relate so well with each of their new contact, while some do not really care.
Most importantly, some family always warns their wards against relating freely with strangers, and this to some extent scares some people away from strangers. At the other hand, some have difficulties catching up to forget the wrong deeds of strangers in their personal experience or experience of others. From another perspective, some sees their inability to get things done as a result of some other set of people around them (esp. if not of their category). These few among other issues are salient issues to the genesis of xenophobia experiences in Africa. This piece of work will sample 2 countries; South Africa and Ghana.
Xenophobia attack has been a major challenge of Nigerians outside the country. Over 17 million Nigerians are living abroad (Fidelis, The Guardian, 2017) out of the almost 196 million population. According to Statistics South Africa (2016), data shows just over 30,000 Nigerians in South Africa, though against the approximated figure of 800,000 Nigerians as said by Emeka Ezinteje, Nigerian Union South Africa (NUSA). According to Nigerian High Commissioner in Accra, Ghana, Nigerians living in Ghana are up to 1 million out of the 23 million populations (Maguine, 2009).
South Africa Experience
South Africans have in several times turn out their angers of inability to get some stuffs done as a result of the people of different culture living in their midst. Xenophobia attack is not something new in South Africa, it has been happening over two decades. Prior to 1994, immigrants from elsewhere faced discrimination in South Africa. It was later recorded again between 2000 and 2008 where at least 67 people died. In 2015 again, there was xenophobic attack against immigrants in general which prompted foreign government to begin repatriating their citizens (Wikipedia). This happened till 2017 which was a very mega disaster upon other Africans living in South Africa.
It must be noted that this is just the violent part of the xenophobic nature of South Africans. There are lots of challenges those living there are facing in one way or the other. In my communication with one of my friends who went to school in South Africa and who have been trying to make ends meet. He lamented what they are passing through and shared me a mail which really shows how much they have been segregated.
Dated February, 2015.
Reasons behind Xenophobic Attack
Most reasons behind xenophobic attack are sometimes alarming and funny. Temitope Popoola in an article identified some of them as; an impression that every Nigeria is a criminal. This might have been a rumour heard by some young people of South Africa and degenerated to hatred, or inability for some to forget experience they had with some Nigerians as highlighted in the beginning of this piece and they find it so hard to let go of such experience. Another recorded reason is that Nigerian men take their beautiful girls. That sounds like Nigerian men has something to offer their girls which could be in kind as well as cash. Lastly, it is believed that Nigerians have been dominating their economy far too much that its appearing that they are hijacking opportunities from them. All these reasons are only to identify the non-relentless of Nigerians in making it outside their shore and their high level of doggedness.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to note that the death toll of Nigerians killed in South Africa has continued to climb with two young Nigerians being the latest victims, bringing the number of those killed in the former apartheid enclave since February, 2016 to 118 (Guardian Nigeria, May 20, 2018).
Ghana at the other hand might not have been as brutal as the South Africans, but we cannot pretend there is no existence of such nature in the soil of Ghana against Nigerians to be specific as well. A victim such as Ike Egbon (Vendor) complained as how Ghanaians treats him like one of the notorious internet fraudster. According to him, ‘You are Nigerian; Nigerians are no good, no good. Why don’t you go to your country? He explained how he is not being patronized by Ghanaians as a food seller.
Ghanaian Government took it legal in fighting against foreigners taking advantage of their economic resources at some stages. Section 27 (1) of the GIPC Law 2013, (Act 865) says, A person who is not a citizen or an enterprise which is not wholly owned by a citizen shall not invest or participate in the sale of goods or provision of services in a market, petty hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place”. Kate Da Coasta (July 13, 2018) in a report noted that shop has been shut down before by the ministry of Trade and Industry in 2012 and 2013. This act was recorded to be a bold step taken by the government in response to the agitation of their citizens’ complaints that the locals businesses were being stifled by the presence of foreigners in the markets. Such complain has a good similarity to the case of South Africa nationals complains.
In response to the warning given to foreigners by the Ministry of trade and Commerce, many Nigerian traders at the Suame Magazine in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region have allegedly been attacked by Ghanaians, who vowed to evict foreigners from the market. Leaders of the Nigerian retailers at the Suame Magazine say their members are living in fear following what they call incessant attacks on them. According to Victor Moname speaking with Citinewsroom, Even though the Ministry of Trade and Industry threatened legal action against stubborn foreigners, it later rescinded its decision, citing inadequate sensitization as the reason for the suspension (August 3, 2018).
It would naturally come to mind, how can we really achieve a United Africa as proposed by the late Gadaffi? We are Africans, and we still find it difficult to make us succeed on our soil by extension. I ask a question, to which government are Nigerians paying their tax? It would have been a different case if they have been accused for avoiding tax.
Are Nigerians thinking like other Africa countries like South Africa and Ghana? This is a land where we seem to accommodate foreigners; several companies and investments are owned by foreigners and here we are doing fine with them all. It looks ironical to me now if we are to ask, why are Nigerians not as hardworking here in Nigeria to chase away the foreigners by achievement? We are rather strong in hijacking the sales and making others irrelevant in other part of the world as claimed to be by South Africans and Ghanaians?
I will be concluding by asking; 1Are we to blame the government or citizens of other countries who are scared of us and not ready to accommodate us fully beyond tourist? 2Should we blame the Nigeria government who has failed us in so many areas, to the extent of chasing most of us out of the country due to high level of government and economic failure, while some are still going to mountains begging God to go, and at the other hand, having a ‘come back home’ campaign? Or, 3We should even blame Nigerians who have find it easy to travel to struggle and do lots of jobs they cannot do conveniently at home?