Xenophobic carnage in South Africa: Lesson for Ndigbo

By Nnanna Otu

It is delightful to witness majority of Nigerians roundly condemning the unfolding violence over the past few days in South Africa. I also watched Nigerians in South Africa ignore tribal affiliations to fight for the safety of their lives. It was very refreshing to witness such unity.
But I have a word of caution for Nigerians living in South Africa. They must be very cautious. You cannot win a war against South Africans in South Africa. I saw Igbo men singing Igbo war songs and Yoruba singing theirs maybe to ginger them to victory. However, such braggadocio has limit in another man’s land. South Africans have made a statement. Her police have made a statement. Her president has made a statement. You are not wanted. You cannot defeat the establishment. Rethink your strategy. You must find a route back home.
Unfortunately, Nigeria is hell so many would rather die in South Africa than return home. That is the cruel price many pay for being Nigerians.
Nevertheless, it is important we take a holistic approach to this issue, hence, we end up condemning South Africans over what we approve and practice in Nigeria. Several times, I have read educated folks come online to claim that Lagos belongs to the Yorubas and Igbos should relocate to Southeast as the city is over populated.
It started as a debate before it gained entrance into the Lagos State policy directive. Governor Fashola carried out the deportation of Igbos who were “half Nigerians” inside Nigeria back to Onitsha and dumped them at the head bridge.
Many Nigerians applauded this act and actually commended him. After all they were Igbos and Lagos must be cleansed. But I have a question, is it not hypocrisy for Nigerians to fight against South Africans in their own country over what they approved back home? If an ethnic group who were “Nigerians” could be deported in-country, on what moral platform are the current purveyors of morality standing to rebuke South Africans? To some extent, except for the xenophobic attacks, which is very horrendous and condemnable, South Africans may have a legitimate case against Nigeria.
The Nigerian hypocrisy knows no boundary. If Nigerians can’t accommodate Nigerians in Nigeria they don’t actually have a solid case against South Africa who are fighting to take back their country from foreigners.
Secondly, in 2015, the Oba of Lagos threatened to drown every Igbo man that refused to vote for his anointed candidate in the person of the recently disgraced Ambode. I thought that the Yoruba nation would rise up against him for what many of us termed sacrilegious and demeaning statement and expected the Federal government to place a level of sanction against him for threat to life of citizens of Nigeria. Nothing happened except lame reaction from those that still retain some common sense within this space.
In fact, some very educated lawyers came online to rationalise that statement here in Nigeria. Buoyed by that threat in 2015 which was not met with sanction, Bola Tinubu, in the just concluded 2019 election, clandestinely carried out the threat of the Oba of Lagos by sending his thugs to beat up Igbo voters in Lagos and actually stopped them from exercising their civic rights in front of recorded video. If the people had retaliated, perhaps all of them would have ended up at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Did the Federal government arrest any of the criminals to date? Was the person that led the attack on innocent people, a certain Oluomo, not shielded by the Federal government? We have millions of barbarians in Nigeria waiting to carry out murder of innocent people, so don’t be too angry with South Africans. It can happen here. It happened there.
I needed to take you down memory lane so we don’t overbeat our chests over what is happening in South Africa. That cannibalism and barbarism we witnessed in South Africa resides in millions of Nigerians, right within us. It is only waiting for the right environment to manifest.
That brings me to another point which often many Igbo people don’t like to hear. We cannot win the war in Lagos no matter how hard we try to project our “Nigerian interest”. Nigeria is not a nation. There are many nations trapped under Nigeria not willing to form a nation.
We must be strategic like the Jews.
Need I remind you that as Gen. Gowon was declaring no victor no vanquished in 1970 his people were already dividing our property and sharing them among themselves. Did the hypocritical Gowon, the current prayer warrior of Nigeria direct his brothers to give back your property to you? No. It will happen again. Its just a matter of time.
Buhari’s government is proof that nothing changed from 1970 till date. Rather situation actually deteriorated.
Be cautious. Be careful. You would be disappointed in Nigeria.   There is no difference between the characters you see in South Africa with those in Nigeria.
Until the Israelites established the Jewish state in the Middle East they were treated with disrespect and seen as global ridicule in spite of their numerous and gargantuan contribution to humanity. Their successes attracted envy, hence, it was easy for them to become prey and scapegoated in every country that experienced economic downturn. It is only a foolish man that goes to develop every other place while leaving his home to wither.
You must rethink home.
You must rebuild your homes.
You must build industries for your teeming youth population at home.
You must provide employment for them and engage them in meaningful enterprise as the only way to curb forced migration.
You must have something to fall back on the day Nigeria will fail you, which will eventually happen.
Black Africa is lying in ruin. You have what it takes to rebuild Africa.
The solution is not in Nigeria.
You must move the thought about your home.  A home you can be proud of when everything has collapsed.