by Farouk Martins Aresa
Should we blame Kings, Oba, Emir or Obi diversionary scapegoating as members of oppressors’ class? The poor abscond desperately across 7 seas and 7 deserts for greener pasture as looters squander our seed money to better other communities in luxury while most folks are in anguish. Young people are confused on whether to stay at home and fight oppressors or parachute into unfriendly territories where they strive on worse adversities than they do in their communities.
When we are well fed, housed, occupied by art and science; humans can be decent, kind and graceful. As soon as we are threatened for our very existence by deprivation of one or more sustenance, we become a different animal. The most uncivilized part of us creeps in and we begin to show undesirable color. Blame South Africans as much as you want, you are no more of a human brute than they are. If we mess up our own communities, they must protect theirs.
Xenophobia in South Africa is the latest in the list of fatal consequences facing the young, poor and their oppressors outside their own community. Migrants’ intolerance is not new in and out of Africa. There is a false memory that believes Africans will not commit atrocities against one another despite Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Why is South Africa different?
They complained that they are gradually watching their unskilled immigrant workers becoming majority while they become minority in their own communities. The pictures of killing and maiming of other Africans, their own brothers, sisters and children are repulsive and repugnant. These pictures are all over the world, as they watch African inflict mayhem on one another. We saw it in Rwanda wondering whether to leave Africans to themselves or step in and get caught.
Another false sense of security that it is time to reap dividends invested by Kwame Nkrumah is grossly misplaced. Other Africans around South Africa and Nigeria feel South Africa owes them their living after they failed to demand the same from their own countries. The leaders in South Africa that failed their people are not different from the leaders that failed Nigeria and other African countries. The case of Nigeria, a failed regional power is even more pathetic.
Nkrumah did not spend so much of Ghana’s money on freedom fighters so that children of Africa from other countries can invade and overwhelm South Africans in their own communities. He did it so that any African, anywhere in the world can stand on his own and be respected as any other human from Europe to America. Before we can attain economic freedom, we must obtain human dignity that defies greed so that our children can breathe and survive at home.
As long as our new crop of leaders dehumanize us at home, in our countries and communities, many of us will continue to die in the seas crossing the deserts, mauled in and out of Africa by those that do not have enough jobs at home as we will continue to blame our hosts. When the king of Zulu or the Oba Eko speaks, they are reflecting the wish of their angry people. If hosts are not comfortable, can the guests claim rights? In South Africa, we demand payback for what?
Where did Nyerere, Kenyatta, Banda, Tafawa Balewa, Zik, Awo and Nkrumah stand and tell you that there is economic reward for all Africans at the expense of unskilled South Africans? There used to be a time when new independent African countries asked you to send your teachers, lawyers, doctors, soldiers and police over to help them with shortages after the British and the French packed up and left. Those days are over and if they need more of us, they will ask.
What we have now are surplus skilled people and unskilled individuals going to countries where they are not welcomed looking for economic gains. Indeed, South Africa and other countries made entry visa so stringent, we still find our way inside. The worst of all, are those that have failed and looted their countries mercilessly creating heaven for themselves where they are not wanted, not welcomed and in some cases thrown into jail. No country throws its borders open!
Of all countries in Africa, why are the children of Nigeria becoming economic refugees in other countries? Instead of us to hold our head in shame because not only did we fail this generation at home, we failed to live up to our potential as a regional power that should have saved Africa. Poorer or smaller countries can cry and blame South Africa not Nigeria. No wonder Buhari cried.
We have been warned many times that there is no country in the world that can absorb our population of almost 200 million refugees if the Country breaks into pieces. Even if we do and become more efficient as some claim, we should not be running away from our enabling environment if we can help develop. Stay in your own community and fight for the rights you want in others’ community. If our community is attractive, others would to come and did.
The King of Zulu and Oba Eko are in privileged class with messages from their communities; as we become more intolerable of our brothers. South African and Nigeria leaders have stepped into the shoes of our oppressors but with a different skin color. Most of these leaders indulge in the worst form of hedonism while their subjects fight and kill one another for their crumps.
Professor Ekeh told that story of African Chief, King and Oba that sold their people into slavery. Politicians, kings and Oba of today fly on their own in 707 planes into host countries offering gold and silver like their forefathers in exchange for mirrors. When the ordinary slaves saw their King, Obi and Oba that ran out of slaves to sell, arrived in chains, some wanted to bow. Many pulled them back crying: but for their atrocities, most of us would not leave out communities.
The young and the poor are very patient, otherwise it is the head of their leaders that should be rolling on the floor, not their fellow men. Nigeria has just chosen a new leader in whom much is expected just as much was expected of South African leaders. Buhari, may God help you deliver.