Though we have won the war against Apartheid in South Africa, it is fast appearing some people still suffer from post-Apartheid traumas. This is the only logical explanation I will give to the recent xenophobic attacks by thugs in some South African cities against nationals of other African countries. But unlike other Africans, I will look at the issues from lesser emotional point of view.
On hearing the news of the wave of attacks on foreigners by some South African thugs, I put a call through to my friend, Nomfundo Zulu to confirm the incident. She told me the attacks were carried out by some “jobless, hopeless thugs who want to take over the business of foreigners.” This quickly took my mind by to the popular “Ghana Must Go” incidence in Nigeria.
The Nigerian economy in the early 1980s was suffering from a major recession as a result of the fall in global oil price. The Sheu Shagari’s regime had to find ways to cope with the unusual problem. A lot of Nigerians were out of jobs; government was downsizing and things were not appearing to take shape soon. This left room for many people to fall gullibly to any explanation of ways out of the challenge. One of such was that it was the foreigners (Ghanaians) that were taking over Nigerian jobs!
In many parts of Lagos, Nigeria where most of the Ghanaians were living, many Nigerians physically assaulted fellow Africans by telling them to go back to their country. They were doing the jobs meant for Nigerians!
I still ask myself: What jobs were Ghanaians doing in Nigeria then? Barbing, shoe making, cleaning, house helps, prostitution, doughnut selling, food stuff selling. The most honourable job they were known with is teaching. Excluding teaching, these were the jobs Nigerians wanted so much for “Ghanaians to leave our country for us.”
On St Valentine’s Day, 1983 the federal government issued an expulsion order for all “illegal immigrants” to leave Nigeria. This was perhaps the most popular decision made by the popularity-bankrupt Shagari’s regime!
We need to add that Ghanaians have since left, never to come back again. They went back to take the pain to develop their country and now are Nigerians wanted in Ghana?
The situation in South Africa, a country with a history of racial discrimination, today is just frightening. Like I said earlier, some people are still suffering from post-Apartheid trauma. If we take the fact that many if not all of these thugs, are in their teens or early or mid-twenties, they may be too young to appreciate the role Nigeria and many other African countries played to liberate their country from the stranglehold of Apartheid. This is just assuming ignorance is an excuse!
The situation Nigerians faced today in South Africa may just be compared to those Ghanaians faced in Nigeria in the 80s. Is there any difference or similarity?
A close look at Nigerians in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and other places in South Africa appears to me no better than Ghanaians in Nigeria in the 80s. I make this note because I doubt how many Nigerians dare live in the country during the Apartheid. The huge number of Nigerians in those places now can only be explained by present condition at home for many of them to stomach such humiliations for years and still be there!
On my part, if South Africans feel that other Africans are inconveniencing them in their country, I submit that like Ghanaians they should go back home and see what becomes of the country. This is exactly what Ghanaians did and today they are better for it!