Oh South Africa

By Olukorede Yishau

South Africa is beautiful. Very beautiful. Durban, one of its prominent cities where I once spent a week or so, so dazzled me that I longed for a replica back home in Nigeria. Abuja, our best, does not have Durban’s charm, not to talk of the glitz of Johannesburg, Cape Town or Pretoria.

I have seen London, Liverpool, Singapore, Houston, Chicago, New York and many other great cities in the world and I dare say Durban can stand almost shoulder to shoulder with them all.

Accra, the Ghanaian capital, is a work in progress. It does not even glow like Abuja. Nairobi, to the best of my knowledge, is not better than Abuja.

What I am driving at is that South Africa remains a model in Africa and is a leader. On a continent with people struggling to make ends meet, South Africa is bound to entice people willing to escape the concentration camps that many an African nation is.

When an average Nigerian has the opportunity to travel out, they always lament the poor state of things back home. Not a few have refused to return. Given South Africa’s elegance, it should not surprise anyone that many Nigerians have chosen it as their second home.

America, the United Kingdom and other advanced nations are also homes to Nigerians. Like in South Africa, the Nigerians in those advanced democracies comprise of the good, the bad and the ugly. The good guys are always in the majority. The bad and the ugly are always in the minority. But, in a world, where evil sells, the bad boys catch the headlines all the time.

The black-on-black violence in South Africa is blamed on the few Nigerians who are into drugs and other devilish enterprises. We have great Nigerians in the universities, hospitals and other sectors of the South African economy. We hear less of them and more of the bad eggs. Some of them are even known to kill themselves in gang-related violence.

Since the violence broke out, I have had cause to watch and listen to some South African leaders, two of them ex-presidents. Jacob Zuma and his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, who lived in Nigeria during the Apartheid madness, have spoken. Zuma impressed and amazed me with his response. Mbeki broke my heart by saying Nigerians were not attacked. He said only criminals were attacked. And I asked: Where are the criminals from?

Mbeki claimed that the attackers had reported these criminals to the police and never got any good out of this. Who is to blame if South African police fail in their responsibility? And does South African laws allow citizens to take the law in their hands?

I am also worried that in these attacks, business premises have been attacked. Auto shops were set ablaze. Is Mbeki telling us that the owners of these businesses are also into the hard drugs business? Were the looters of shops owned by foreigners also protesting against criminals? This, to me, is like criminals trying to fight criminals.

The Nation Newspaper
Oh South Africa
Korede Yishau by Korede Yishau September 13, 2019
Oh South Africa
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South Africa is beautiful. Very beautiful. Durban, one of its prominent cities where I once spent a week or so, so dazzled me that I longed for a replica back home in Nigeria. Abuja, our best, does not have Durban’s charm, not to talk of the glitz of Johannesburg, Cape Town or Pretoria.

I have seen London, Liverpool, Singapore, Houston, Chicago, New York and many other great cities in the world and I dare say Durban can stand almost shoulder to shoulder with them all.

Accra, the Ghanaian capital, is a work in progress. It does not even glow like Abuja. Nairobi, to the best of my knowledge, is not better than Abuja.

What I am driving at is that South Africa remains a model in Africa and is a leader. On a continent with people struggling to make ends meet, South Africa is bound to entice people willing to escape the concentration camps that many an African nation is.

When an average Nigerian has the opportunity to travel out, they always lament the poor state of things back home. Not a few have refused to return. Given South Africa’s elegance, it should not surprise anyone that many Nigerians have chosen it as their second home.

America, the United Kingdom and other advanced nations are also homes to Nigerians. Like in South Africa, the Nigerians in those advanced democracies comprise of the good, the bad and the ugly. The good guys are always in the majority. The bad and the ugly are always in the minority. But, in a world, where evil sells, the bad boys catch the headlines all the time.

The black-on-black violence in South Africa is blamed on the few Nigerians who are into drugs and other devilish enterprises. We have great Nigerians in the universities, hospitals and other sectors of the South African economy. We hear less of them and more of the bad eggs. Some of them are even known to kill themselves in gang-related violence.

Since the violence broke out, I have had cause to watch and listen to some South African leaders, two of them ex-presidents. Jacob Zuma and his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, who lived in Nigeria during the Apartheid madness, have spoken. Zuma impressed and amazed me with his response. Mbeki broke my heart by saying Nigerians were not attacked. He said only criminals were attacked. And I asked: Where are the criminals from?

Mbeki claimed that the attackers had reported these criminals to the police and never got any good out of this. Who is to blame if South African police fail in their responsibility? And does South African laws allow citizens to take the law in their hands?

I am also worried that in these attacks, business premises have been attacked. Auto shops were set ablaze. Is Mbeki telling us that the owners of these businesses are also into the hard drugs business? Were the looters of shops owned by foreigners also protesting against criminals? This, to me, is like criminals trying to fight criminals.

Like Mbeki, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor, in an interview, begged the Nigerian government to come and help them get rid of our criminals in their country. Shame! If she has evidence that these guys are criminals who are using hard drugs to lead astray their people, all Minister Pandor needs do is to activate the law against them and jail them if found guilty. Begging Nigeria to come get them out of South Africa is an admission of the failure of the country’s criminal justice system.

The United States and the United Kingdom will never ask Nigeria to come and get out its few bad eggs in their system. What these two nations have kept doing is using the law to rein them in. Many of them are in jails in prisons across these nations. Not once have they sought Nigerians help in dealing with the few bad guys.

Only some weeks back, the United States released a list of 77 Nigerians who are involved in scams. Before then, it arrested a popular Nigerian youth known as Invictus Obi over a number of scams and he is being detained while investigations are going on. Many of the indicted 77 have been nabbed in the U.S. and some have been picked up in Nigeria with the assistance of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). They should have been extradited to the U.S. to face the music.

So, it is childish for Pandor to ask Nigeria to come and get the criminals out when it should have used South African laws against them. And if there are accomplices in Nigeria, our law enforcement agents can help fish them out and send to South Africa to face the law, if need be. That is what the United States has done. South Africa should take a cue.

For Zuma, he said it was a shame that a few South Africans are calling fellow Africans foreigners. He also traced the assistance countries, including Nigeria, gave South Africa under the Apartheid regime.

Though not a fan of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, his position on black-on-black violence makes me admire him. I chanced on a video, which makes his position clear. The video was of an interview he granted while Zuma was in power and anti-foreigner violence broke out. Very instructive in what he said is the fact that South Africa is a leader and a model on the continent and naturally will attract people from other countries. He added that if South Africa was unwilling to play this role of accommodating other Africans, then it should not be regarded as a leader or a model.

I must allude to a fact elucidated by ace South African comedian and author Trevor Noah. After the violence broke out, Noah said over 80 per cent of South African wealth is in the hands of the white. The rest is shared between the black and the coloured elites. The per cent in the hands of foreigners, including Nigerians, is less than one per cent. Why the hate, you may wonder.

On a lighter note, a South African girl says their men are jealous of Nigerians because they have snatched all the fine babes in the cities. She accuses their guys of being lazy and unable to take good care of them. “Leave our Nigerian men alone,” she pleads. But the men accuse Nigerians of taking less money to take their jobs and corrupting their girls and youth with drugs.

My final take: South Africa has had a troubled past. Many of its young population are still troubled and need to be redeemed. The laws are there to deal with criminals; South Africa should activate them instead of allowing mobs to combine the roles of prosecutors and judges.

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