Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere – Martin Luther King Jr
What the continent of Africa truly need and deserve at this juncture in her political evolution is nothing but uncompromised unity of purpose and solidarity to propel her to become the evil of the world. Unity is a word many of us only pay lip service to and take for granted instead of a galvanizing word to bring every African nation under the umbrella of a united comity of nations with shared history and common indivisible purpose.
Unfortunately, what we are seeing is nefarious forces of hatred, injustice and inhumanity manifesting in the worst of ways and threatening to undermine what we have always known to be the brotherhood that has banded all countries especially those that found their citizens in South Africa where they have come seeking better economic opportunity.
But in the last two weeks or so, xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans especially Nigeria and others has grossly undermined the fragile and false sense of unity many hope especially post-Nelson Mandela era. Arguably, Africa lost a hero and consummate leader who espoused unity, peace, justice and brotherhood of all Africans irrespective of where they come from. In his mind, any African in the soil of Africa is at home and should not be mistreated or assaulted. That was what many perceived as the Nelson Mandela doctrine.
So the obvious question at this juncture is “why should any South African maltreat or mistreat another African especially against the background of what the great Nelson Mandela preached?
Africa as the earliest cradle of human civilization fought tooth and nail to defeat the scourge of apartheid in South Africa. With that defeat emerged the leadership of one of the noblest leaders of our generation- Nelson Mandela.
Nelson Mandela was not just a noble leader, he was a servant leader, a patriot, a charismatic personality and humanitarian. He was loved and revered virtually by friends and foes alike. His leadership style and his politics will stand through immortality. For many, he will forever remain Africa’s man of timber and caliber.
But unfortunately, since his demise or death, the country many have come to know and respect has gradually cascaded into a theatre of hate, violence and unfathomable inhumanity. What happened?
What happened to this once beckon of hope for Africa –a nation where one of the precious mineral resources gold would have been sufficient to help propel the economy of a nation that for a while mired in decades of racial doldrums and economic malaise.
Fast forward to where things are now.
Actually, the social media reports and videos these few days conjures the images of what a famous Nigerian singer by the name Sonny Okosun gave as a title to one of his songs “Fire In Soweto” the refrain included the lyrics burning all my people. What a sad commentary on the state of things about Africa. Africa as a continent should be looking to catch up with other continents Asia and the rest of them and not squander big opportunity it has and being blessed with overabundance of mineral resources gold, diamond, copper, iron, oil and m
any more. Instead of striving to build a stable economy some very unpatriotic elements are busy creating havoc and undermining African unity.
The casualties from these uprising are mindboggling at best. In 2008, upwards of 60 killed with over 50,000 displaced and forced out of their homes. As recently as 2015, about seven people lost their lives as a result of these racial tensions.
According to news reports more than 50 shops and businesses premises of mostly Nigerians and other countries Somalians were impacted. Surprisingly, Nigeria the giant of Africa paid heavily especially financially to extricate South Africa from the grip of Apartheid and policies associated with it. In economic terms, as much as 61 Billion naira was lavished by Nigerian leadership to liberate a sister country. The question becomes if this wanton violence and senseless killing and torching of Nigerian businesses the payback for Nigerian humanitarian gesture. Appreciation is what Nigeria should be getting for her benevolence instead of subjecting her citizens to wanton ignominy, unprovoked violence and death. The money used to liberate South Africa conceivably could have been utilized to lift citizens up back home but leaders in Nigeria saw the end of apartheid as a just cause and fought courageously and successfully to end it.
As Africans we must learn to show love instead of hatred as exemplified by these culprits who under certain guises have taken it upon themselves to visit harm on others. What happened to “Love thy neighbor as thyself”? Regardless of economic circumstances, as Africans there are ways to come together to solve the economic dilemma the average South African is facing as many appear to be struggling to make it. Unfortunately, it appears the solution for some who have found themselves in economic jam is find migrants to vent on. Such predatory behavior is quo vardis against all human convention.
Against this backdrop, one hopes the African leadership must as a matter of urgency convene an urgent meeting to address how to douse and extinguish the racial tension currently existing in South Africa and other environs.
That this resurgence of violence should come a few days to the September 4th scheduled World Economic Forum in Cape Town, South Africa makes one wonder the coincidence and also next month’s planned visit by Mohammed Buhari of Nigeria begs a few questions.
But regardless of the why and wherefore of these unfortunate incident that cast a bad light on Africa, what is needed at this junction is an immediate cessation of these hostilities, more infusion of tolerance, discarding of all vestiges of animous-revertendi against migrants whether from Nigeria or Namibia. The citizens of South Africa must also understand why many migrants are in their country, which for all intents and purposes is for a better life and economic opportunity.
In the final analysis, for collective unity of Africa, and in order to perpetuate the teaching of the Great Nelson Mandela, all culprits who instigated or collaborated in the actions that now has brought ignominy to an otherwise thriving nation post-apartheid must answer and be held accountable for their actions. Anyone who plays the piers must expect to pay the price.
A legal dictum states that “Justice delayed is justice denied”. Besides, Nelson Mandela’s legacy is one of Love and not hate.
Dr. George Onuorah
Author of “The Political Diary of A Rising Son”