Even as early as 1994, “xenophobic” attacks had begun on citizens of other black nations in South Africa. At the time, the problems were not properly diagnosed and the treatments didn’t work. This has transmorgrified into what is now unimaginable barbarity, vandalism and killings . As it was then, even now, the problem is not well understood by a lot of people and the solutions they seek don’t and can’t work.
First, the case of the black South African.
It is difficult to imagine that South Africa used to be a nuclear power and that it was a first world economy. The prosperity didn’t translate to a better life for the blacks not because the atmosphere prevented them, but because of a sense of entitlement.
Of course there was Apartheid, but instead of being a vehicle for self improvement, it became an occupation, an excuse, if you will, to explain away dismal lifestyles. As lotus eaters, it was easy to argue that they didn’t do well because the Whites were in charge.
Most were content with being coal,diamond and gold miners without trying to own the mines. They didn’t also take advantage of the technologies that were available. And for some reason, the whole world believed that Black South Africans will prosper if they governed themselves.
When Nelson Mandela was free in 1990 and very soon, became president, nearly all black South Africans lost a motive to live. By this , I mean that a culture shock occurred in a very unsettling way. Now, their lives are in their own hand , for the first time. Or so they thought. But the problem was an ignorance of the fact that freedom came with responsibilities.
To manage the situation, Mandela had to have several vice presidents one of whom included his wife , Winnie. Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Vice president of Kwazulu Natal, literally waged a war on the government. He wanted more power and money even if that killed the new nation. He would be a role model to Jacob Zuma whose eventual role we shall have a recourse shortly.
Meanwhile, White South Africans still thrived just as the lot of the black remained bleak. The former held economic power as the latter was content with being members of ANC. As Mr Mandela began to realize that it was a different look from the inside, more power needed to be shared. He didn’t run for a second term in 1994.
Soon after a new president, Tambo Mbeki, was inaugurated, the reality that freedom didn’t equal wealth set the stage for the first wave of attacks on foreigners who came in and took advantage of the infrastructure. Mr Mbeki was able to manage the situation, got the country back on its feet and South Africa became a global attraction which would host a soccer world cup.
With a black now in charge and yet money wasn’t shared free , Julius Malema, ANC Youth Leader at the time ,banded with Jacob Zuma, a very profligate party chairman. Mr Zuma became president and the economy began to go zep again. With crippling poverty basically engendered by an entitlement mentality and thus an unwillingness to go to school, etc, it was easy to attack blacks from other nations who thrive. And it helped Jacob Zuma to encourage these attacks because they shifted the focus away from him.
As things became worse for them, Jacob Zuma had to leave. Cyril Ramaphosa, Zuma’s replacement, promised everything in 2018. But conditions only worsened. He couldn’t stop attacks on foreigners with some saying that he endorses it.
And now today, #NoToXhenophobia that is not really xenophobia. Like I said, the ailments is not properly diagnosed. What is happening in South Africa is not a hatred and fear of foreigners. The companies in South Africa are owned by whites ,Indians, Lebanese, etc. These people are called “expats ” or “investors”. Black police killed 33( government’s version: 9) miners in August 2012 . All the dead were blacks .The infamous Marikana Massacre was a reminder that you can only test a person/s when you give them power.
What is really happening is jealousy and envy of black foreigners who are somehow more resourceful and thus affluent as opposed to the squalor of the natives. And because wealth without power is a major problem, these “foreigners” make easy targets of misplaced aggression. What’s more, people from Tanzania, Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda, etc who are doing well can’t hide their lifestyles.
Are the foreigners criminals? And that’s the trick question. I have listened to native black South Africans boast that they enjoy crime which doesn’t make all of them criminals. In the same token, there are lots of criminals amongst the “foreigners” which ,also, doesn’t make all of them criminals.
Let’s put forth this theory. While some Nigerians in South Africa comit crimes, not all Nigerians in South Africa do so. Herein lies the the conundrum. The South African government knows this but is in a trap of sorts. If the vulnerable are not attacked, the government will be. Therefore, it coffers substantial advantage on them to encourage the attacks.
The Remedies and responses. Nigerians who are reeling from a government in a coma have begun to attack businesses, real and imagined, owned by South Africans. MTN ,a telecom giant has closed shop as has the the South African Embassy. South African living in Nigeria are protected by police. What more, the reprisals are more of a way to vent their own spleen about their collectively abysmal lot.Those images from South Africa are gory and sad. But they are common in Nigeria.
The Nigeria government has re-called its ambassador to South Africa which doesn’t help the situation of those who are left behind. Mohammadu Buhari, President, said he will no longer be at a World Economicforum meeting he thought was in October but that actually took place Wednesday.
Both countries, former giants and current paper tigers need each other. Nigeria needs the technology for the service sector that it woefully lacks. And South Africa needs the endless market that’s Nigeria. Nigeria’s pop culture industry is baked in South Africa. While Nigeria’s feckless government has said that a ‘red line” has been crossed, it issues stern warnings to its citizens against reprisals. In fact, its police killed two people when a mob besieged Shop-rite, Lekki, Lagos, Monday.
For some reason, the South African government thinks that when push comes to shove, it has an upper hand. Only two months ago, some countries in Africa ( including Ghana and Sao Tome) were given visa-free status to South Africa. Nigeria was ignored.
With the current hit and mostly miss strategies, the killings might stop. But only for a while. Nigerians are not coming back to Nigeria as they see no hope in it. They will roughen it out even if it means death. To them, anything is better than Nigeria. And South Africa worries very little about attacks on its companies in Nigeria. Most of them are franchises and soon, Nigeria police will kill enough people to discourage reprisals. Like the Nigerians who are stuck by will in South Africa, Nigeria is stuck ,by incompetence ,with South Africa on its own soil.
Finally, what is happening in South Africa and the responses tend to lend credence to the accusation that blacks are incapable of governing themselves. Could that be so?