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Xenophobia: When Did South Africans Begin To Hate Nigerians?

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ElevateNews takes a look at where Nigeria and South Africa got it wrong that eventually led to xenophobia.

An American teacher once told me that after South Africa, the next country in Africa in terms of development should be Nigeria. I smiled because I had never been to Johannesburg or Cape Town, neither have I been to Soweto but I know some good cities in Nigeria.

The British colonialists did a lot to make South Africa beautiful just as they did to Nigeria before independence but it is a pity that what the whites built with the help of some of our exceptional black leaders have since become relics in Nigeria.

The railway is gone, the beautiful residential areas of Ebutte-Metta in Lagos have since disappeared; what we see in Nigeria today are the ruins of many industrial layouts. Many have become churches.

In a few years to come, if care is not taken, South Africa will look like Nigeria and the hope of Africa becoming world power may have been dashed.

Nobody is seeing Nigeria as the giant of Africa anymore. Smaller African countries like Rwanda is getting it right and the world is beaming its searchlight towards her. There was a positive rivalry between Nigeria and Ghana in the past but since the discovery of oil in Nigeria, our economy dwarfed that of Ghana.

Nevertheless, the Ghanaian Government is getting it right in so many ways, unlike Nigeria whose past leaders had looted its treasury dry.

After apartheid, South Africa and Nigeria suddenly became rivals as we began to compare our economic indices to know which country is faring better. This rivalry has turned sour, it is now hatred and presently xenophobia.

The earlier friendly atmosphere between the two countries made South Africans establish some of their biggest companies in Nigeria. This, in another way, allows many Nigeria to migrate to South Africa and vice versa.

Do you know that many Nigerians married South Africans? Nigerians who migrated to South Africa introduced both positive and negative cultures to the Zulus. In recent, times, the bad economy in Nigeria has forced many of its citizens out abroad, including South Africa.

Many of whom had no skills or education but got involved in the illicit drug trade that the current government in South Africa would not condone.

Some Nigerians are quick to say that South Africans are ungrateful for their attacks on Nigerians, the South Africans may be seen as such, but Nigeria also did not take her chances considering her support for liberation struggles in South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Namibia. How do I mean?

Those old enough will remember Augustine Neto’s MPLA, Jonas Savimbi’s FRELIMO, Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU, Sam Nujoma’s SWAPO, Robert Mugabe”s ZANU and Samora Michel’s group in Mozambique and Nigeria’s role in securing independence for their nations.

Nigeria, under Murtala/Obasanjo regime, fought Britain over who to support in Angola between MPLA and FRELIMO. Nigeria later nationalised British Petroleum and changed it to African Petroleum (it is now known as Forte Oil) because of the disagreement. When those nations were becoming independent, why didn’t Nigeria follow up by introducing our local businesses to them? If NNPC could be made to be a player in Angola’s oil then, (I am sure those nations would agree then given the regard they had for us), only God knows what the gains would be by now. We needed not to introduce Lever Brothers or Cadbury that are multi-nationals, but our own. Even if they were Nigeria Airways or Nigerian Textile Mills.

The same mistake we made in Sierra Leone and Liberia. We helped them end their civil wars but no follow up in promoting our own interests there.

Do you think America or any other serious nation would act like us? Now, those youths attacking Nigerians in SA were not born during the struggles and may not be aware of our contributions, so they see us as intruders.

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