It is not unusual to hear Nigerians living in countries of Europe and North America groan about immigration challenges arising from their irregular immigration status or illegitimate stay in those countries.
These Nigerians also face racist tendencies often demonstrated by some citizens of the host countries. Despite this situation, a lot of Nigerians have accepted that those are inevitable experiences that come with their daring decision to emigrate in their desperate pursuit of the proverbial greener pastures.
Similarly, it is worth noting that racism is not just the reality of those confronted with immigration limitations. Countless of people who are living legally in many of those Western countries, including black citizens of the host countries, have touching stories of their personal encounter with racism.
Clearly, such despicable tendencies belong to the dark ages. And that is why there is relentless action globally against behaviour rooted in hate; and to reinforce promotion of love the world over.
But, sadly, the report coming out of South Africa on the rise of xenophobia is certainly a huge setback for the efforts of those seeking to have the world free of all forms of prejudices and appearances of hate.
It is really disturbing and inconceivable that South Africa, a country that attained independence on the back of overwhelming support and goodwill of many countries of the world, particularly African nations – tremendous credit to Nigeria that rose up for it against its then oppressive apartheid government –, will be the aider and abettor of xenophobia against fellow Africans.
It is also very shocking that, at a time when the African Union is trying to rally African countries to sign the vaunted African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), South Africa, one of the top economic powerhouses of the continent, is exacting the worse form of xenophobia on citizens of Nigeria living in the country. So it’s still baffling how the objectives of the AfCFTA will not be defeated when citizens from the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria, are being maltreated, maimed and even killed in South Africa.
The latest report on the killing of two Nigerians in South Africa, barely a month after four Nigerians were gruesomely murdered in suspected xenophobic attacks in the country, is a clear indication that hatred towards fellow Africans has attained a dangerous dimension. And this calls for a pragmatic and swift action from the higher authorities in South Africa.
The Assistant Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Union in South Africa (NUSA), Odefa Ikele, who confirmed and narrated the circumstance around the latest killings in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) from Johannesburg has already called on the Nigerian government to come to their rescue.
“The Nigerian community lost two citizens to gruesome murders over the weekend.
“Mr Bonny Iwuoha, 48, from Ihitte/Uboma in Imo state, was stabbed to death at about 11:45 p.m. on April 6, 2019 in Johannesburg South. We gathered that his assailants followed him from 152 Hay Street Turffontein, and thereafter, stabbed and killed him in front of his gate at Turf Road, Turffontein”, he said.
On the second Nigerian that was murdered, Ikele said, “Akpenyi was allegedly stabbed to death by three unknown coloured South African men after an argument with the deceased.
“The incident took place at Bellville Stadium parking lot in Cape Town at about 1 p.m. on Friday, April 5, 2019.
“These latest killings add to four other Nigerians who were shot dead in March. Three of the victims were murdered in Sunnyside, Pretoria and one in Balfour Park, Johannesburg”.
The NUSA official then used the unfortunate event to reiterate the agony of Nigerians in South Africa and called for the intervention of the Nigerian government.
“We call on the Nigerian government to impress on their South African counterpart that the killings have to be investigated and the culprits prosecuted.”
With these successive troubling events, the lives of many Nigerians are unfortunately in danger of merciless xenophobes that destroy properties and take precious lives with utmost impunity.
It’s high time the South African government demonstrated capacity and commitment to fight this unwarranted crime against humanity and bring the culprits to book before the eyes of the world.
Frankly, this kind of barbaric act shouldn’t have a place or be tolerated in any decent human society. Not even in a place like South Africa given its harrowing history with apartheid and how they vigorously fought such societal ill. And that’s the more reason the South African government must deploy all means to put an end to xenophobia.