South Africa: No Visa- free Status For Nigeria. An implied Insult

Nigeria, for some reason, calls  itself “the giant of Africa”.  Or the most populous black nation on earth.  Those tags might have meant something at some point but certainty not anymore. Nigeria is today being ignored even by countries that make lots of money from inside it. The reason is that it has become like a senile emperor.  

The South African government announced Thursday, that it has given a visa -free status to Ghana, among 15 other African nations, while snubbing Nigeria. It might kid itself but the implied Insults are very diaphanous. 

An example: Nigerians dismissively refer to Ghana as “common Ghana”, a slur first made popular when Buhari was military head of state.  At the time, economic refugees, as most Ghanaians in Nigeria were ,went back home in trucks in an operation tagged “Ghana Must Go“.

“Out of the 193 countries who are member states of the United Nations, the Department has granted visa-free status to 75 countries. Of these 16 are in our continent and are SADC members and 59 are from all over the world.”

“According to the Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, citizens of the seven non-SADC countries are able to enter South Africa without a visa”

And it should be in Nigeria’s interest to have that sort of status.  And I don’t mean for prestige reasons. 

This blow to Nigeria is coming in the heels of daily killings of Nigerians in South Africa.  Its government has done nothing about it in just the same way it does nothing about local killings.  Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Diaspora Affairs CEO, often makes gleeful noise each time a Nigerian is jailed or murdered. But nothing more.

More importantly, the Nigerian telecoms business is dorminated by South African companies as is its online shopping outfits. Nigeria musicians and ad agencies shoot videos and commercials in South Africa. Its satellite tv business is a monopoly by Multichoice, another South African concern.  It has South Africa Breweries in Ilorin ,Kwara state. 

Most push hotels in Lagos and Abuja are partly/jointly owned by South Africans . Its banks are some of the biggest in Nigeria.  But its citizens in Nigeria treat their host with disdain. In South Africa, they call Nigerians “Bloody Africans”.

How did a once feared empire become a large hollow shell? Why did Nigeria fall from being Africa’s foremost nation to a failed nation? From great to good and finally to irrelevant?

It is just so possible that the South African government reckoned that as Nigeria places no value on the lives of its citizens, as banditry and kidnapping become the norm, Nigerians might transfer the traits  to their country.  

It is also just possible that the South African government is taking Mr Buhari at his words. Namely, that Nigeria youths are lazy. They are all also criminals. And crime and tourism don’t mix.

Can Nigeria give a counter ,retaliatory move? No way. Nigeria is a former Turk which is now an old Turkey.  Nothing to admire and nothing to fear about it. 

“Tourism will soar if we relax visa requirements for entry into South Africa. We know that Tourism is very important for job creation,” he said Thursday at a briefing in South Africa.”

Some very innocent Nigerains have asked me if South Africa ignored Nigeria because it beat them at a football game two days ago? No. It has nothing to do with football but everything to do with not knowing what it is doing nor where it is going.

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