If there is any country in African continent that has for years vicariously subjected this writer to bout s of wanderlust, it is undeniably South Africa. The reason for the wanderlust cannot be farfetched as the country has remained a destination to be. Many visitors to the country have at different times and through various medium captured their diverse experiences with inspirational travelogues. No doubt, from the perspectives of the travelogues written by different authors that this writer has for umpteenth times read, there is no denying the fact that South Africa is a destination to be.
Moreover, during my West African Schools Certificate (WASC) examination in the 80s, one of the recommended literature text books by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) gave me an exhilarating insight into the country that earned the coinage of “Rainbow Nation” from one of its internationally respected leaders, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The literature book under reference in this context is “Mine Boy” authored by Peter Abraham. For those who are yet to read the book, “Mine Boy” is a book that exposed the apartheid condition which the black South Africans passed through under the white regime. The must-read literature book presents a portrait of labour discrimination, appalling housing conditions and ignoble level of racial discrimination.
As if to fire my wanderlust for South Africa, late Evangelist Sunny Okosun, who for the most part of his life, used the medium of music to spread the campaign and struggle for independence and majority rule in the then apartheid South Africa was the rave of the moment. One of his major hits that somewhat rekindle the fire of what one may in this context refer to “South Africanism” in me was “Papa’s Land. I must confess that my obsession for South Africa was so high that if I was offered the opportunity of relocating to the United Kingdom, United States of America and South Africa that I would to the consternation of my friends and close relatives opt for South Africa.
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As a catalyst to my unequalled love for the mining country, the exemplary leadership style of the late sage, Dr. Nelson Mandela was irresistible that I was in December 2014 inspired to write a panegyric piece titled “Mandelaism” A template for African Leaders”, which was published on this medium on December 24, 2014. Since the great leader passed on to great beyond, I have been nurturing the plan of visiting South Africa; if not for any reason, at least, to have a look at the building that accommodated the late sage who was not created solely for the South Africans but for the world. Apart from aspiring to just have a glimpse of Dr. Nelson Mandela’s lived in his unarguably fulfilled earthly journey, I also nurture the dream of visiting destinations like Sun City Resort, Hluhwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, Blyde River Canyon, Kruger National Park, Cape Wineland, Table Mountain and what have you. Not only that, I would have made sure I visit Soweto which Late Evangelist Sonny Okosun sang about in one of his hits. I may not be wrong to say that with the literature book I earlier mentioned and Sunny Okosun’s musical activism concerning the freedom of South Africa in the days of apartheid so much affected many Nigerians that an average South African is seen as a brother; which they still are.
To satisfy my curiosity over the anti-immigrant violence that was reported to be raging in South Africa as at the time of writing this piece, I visited the website of the department of government communications and information systems of the Republic of South Africa and discovered to my satisfaction that the government is not sitting on the fence over the issue.
From what I read from “Statement On The Cabinet Meeting of April 15, 2015” posted on the website “Cabinet condemns in the strongest terms the recent acts of violence against foreign nationals. At this point, cabinet would like to extend its heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and a speedy recovery to those who are injured. No amount of frustration or anger can justify these attacks and looting of shops. Whilst noting the issue raised by communities, violence towards another fellow human being can never solve these issues. Rather, it reflects badly on us as a people going against the very ideals and foundations of our democracy. “
The statement continued that “South Africa fought against colonialism and apartheid alongside fellow Africans so that all humanity in our continent should be respected and treated with dignity.”
Without any iota of exaggeration, the issue of anti-immigrants attacks in south Africa is diametrically opposed to the spirit of Dr. Nelson Mandela. In the same token it is an irony when seen from the perspective of the fact that the late icon, President Oliver Tambo was accommodated for close to 30 years in Zambia.
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However, based on my understanding from the Statement On the Cabinet mentioned in the foregoing, there is no denying the fact that the tolls of the violence have started affecting South Africans negatively as it is mentioned in the statement that “South African artists who were to showcase their craft outside our borders of our country, such as Big Nuz in Zimbabwe, Kelly Khumalo and Casper in London, have had their concerts cancelled as a result of these attacks. Many of our communities who relied on shops owned by foreign nationals for their bread and butter are now stranded.”
From the foregoing, there is no denying the fact that if this xenophobic spirit that has taken over some parts of South Africa is not tackled with urgent salutary steps that it would be an issue of ridicule for Africans in the eyes of nationals of other continents. Apart from the government, communities and religious organizations should through prayers find a lasting solution to this problem. The anti-immigrants activities do not augur well for a country that all Africans are daily praying for towards its progress, and in the same vein look up to as their succor in all ramifications.
Finally, I must confess that given the ugly development in South Africa against foreigners that the bouts of wanderlust for South Africa that I was having has automatically left me. Except positive steps are taken to reverse this development in South African, many people across the world that once admire South Africa may begin to think otherwise and begin to perceive the country from a negative point of view and by extension begin to see many innocent south African as xenophobic whereas they are not.
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