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Xenophobia: Soyinka Speaks On His Experience In South Africa

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ElevateNews takes a look at the experience of Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka as he speaks about xenophobia in South Africa.

Full Excerpts

“It has to do with the immigration officer misreading the date on the passport and insisted I have to go with them to the immigration office.

Walking along the way, she kept looking at the passport, I was watching her. I saw the moment when she realized she made a mistake. She flipped over the passport and saw that it was Nigeria anyway and continued with the march. We went to the office, there was a friend who went with us. It was quite a scene.

I pointed out what I felt was the error and fortunately, other senior immigration officers came in. This girl, her attitude was so hard, it was unbelievable. In fact, I reach a point as we were leaving I said to her, I notice when you saw that you made a mistake.

You needed to see how she flared up. I said, “I am going to report you. She quickly showed me her name and asked me to take a look.”

I was pacified by the ambassador and senior officers who were around. This happened to me there. That was not the only time.

There was another time I was kept there. I was coming from the States at that time, I didn’t have a visa. It was an emergency thing, I was invited there for a lecture. It was in connection with Nelson Mandela’s celebration.

I was assured that there would be a visa waiting for me at the airport, I don’t go anywhere I am not invited to. I spent close to nine hours at the airport. I just said I am leaving here and after that episode, I did not go to South Africa. I turned down the invitation. Over nine invitations for two years. I said I would never step into this country again.

Though I did the lectures for Nelson Mandela for memory, for me he’s my avatar. I took my luggage to the lecture, straight from the lecture to the airport.

I said I am dusting the feet of this country. I am owed money by some South African’s firms. I went to give a lecture once. Till today, they owe me $15, 000. Is it because I am a Nigerian that they want to cheat me out of it.

It is over two years ago. They think they’ve got away with it but they have got another thing coming. I am a very patient person. That money is accumulating interest there. I said to myself, ‘Why are they treating me like this. But I have spoken to other South Africans, including some young people who do straight forward business contributing to that society.

There is something very serious may be as a result of apartheid-like other people are coming to treat them like a kind of victim complex.

Its something South Africa has to deal with. One is not denying that Nigerians themselves can be a handful outside but there are other nations who can be of a handful in other societies. It is very easy to target collectivism.

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