Xenophobic Attack: Peniaphobia as a Common Threat
Nigerians, like other foreigners including Malawians, Zimbabweans, Pakistians, Somalis, among others in south-Africa, have suffered continuously, being victims of violence ranging from killings, incessant attacks as well as vandalisation of properties; an evil trend that has subsisted over time and which has generated little or no attention by the Nigerian government, same which can be likened closely to a tragedy of monumental proportions.
Flowing from the recurring malaise, it seems impossible to stand by any particular statistics of lives or properties lost at this point. Heart-shattering is the video of Nigerians who were burn to ashes and report of a Nigerian car dealer’s shop that was burnt to ashes on Sunday, September 1, 2019 in South Africa.
On the side of the South Africans, their justifications for this heinous act has been the feeling of Nigerians occupying their land as claimed by the Deputy Minister of Police of South Africa, Mr Bongani Michael Mkongi. Also the allegation of Nigerian involvement in crime in South Africa, in the middle of this misfortune, it is sad that the Nigerian Government has chosen the path of perpetual silence and at intervals, giving a voice that is not a force usually relating to a deceptive assurance of investigation being, most times, investigations without report.
The office of the chairman, Nigerians Diaspora Commission shares no vindication at this as her positions at any of her appearances on national television remains, “we are investigating” “A Committee had been set up to look into the killings”.
Affected countries are reconsidering their diplomatic options. Zambia pulled out of the friendly match scheduled with South Africa and also banned all South African music from it airplay. The Ethiopia Embassy cautioned her citizens in South Africa. Nigeria, on the other hand has recalled her ambassador and threatened to take “defensive measures to ensure the safety and protection of its citizens.”
And the conundrum remains is Xenophobia the real threat?
Xenophobic attacks are not new in South Africa.
Recall that in 2008, there was a wave of attacks across the country against refugees and migrants that more than 60 people were reported to have been killed and thousands displaced.
The violence peaked again in 2015 which prompted a number of foreign governments to begin repatriating their citizens.
You will agree with me that peniaphobia (Poverty) is the real threat; peniaphobia is the fear of poverty and the fear of poverty is the most destructive, this is because of what I ascribed as “money madness.”
That People can go extra mile to “prey” on one another financially to attain the most money or properties.
Undoubtedly Poverty is one thing African nations share in common, yet it is the thing that divides and pits us one against the other. Poverty is what breed the resentment that finds expression in xenophobia.
In spite of the immense wealth of natural resources, African nations typically fall toward the bottom of any list measuring small size economic activity, such as income per capita or GDP per capita.
Research shows that Nigeria’s unemployment rate stood at 23.1 percent of the workforce in the third quarter, up from 18.1 percent a year earlier. [National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)]
South Africa currently has an unemployment rate of 29%, meaning almost seven million people are out of work.
In South Africa, every xenophobic attack on immigrants or foreigner has been blamed on one single factor: that foreigners had taken jobs that should have been filled by locals.
South Africans espies immigrants as a burden on society by taking jobs and social benefits and that many South Africans thought that immigrants were more responsible for crime than other groups.
So how do we tackle institutionalized xenophobia? How do we approach the mindset that our failure to progress is as a result of strangers seizing all the available opportunities?
These attacks and reprisal attacks are a wake up call to all African governments to stand up to their responsibilities. Possessed by his needs yet suppressed and frustrated at his impoverished state, the average African wallow in resentment, a ticking bomb waiting to explode.
Our greatest threat in Africa is not our fellow African brothers and sisters. It is Poverty, Poverty anywhere is a threat to all of us everywhere.
Let’s not lose sight of our shared destiny. It is only together that we can face our common enemy- Poverty. We need to stop attacking each other but rather embrace one another and work together to uplift our continent and be our brother’s and sister’s protectors wherever we may find ourselves.”
Adejayan Oluwagbenga Gsong is a Columnist of “the People’s Shadow”