Xenophobia Or Black Fratricide?

Opinion

Oh well. The news these few days have been annoyingly ugly, graphic and insanely revealing. I’m talking about the happenings in South Africa of late, where Nigerians are being slaughtered and their businesses laundered and pillaged for the mere fact of their being Nigerian. Xenophobia. Fear and hatred of foreigners or strangers or of anything that…

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Oh well. The news these few days have been annoyingly ugly, graphic and insanely revealing. I’m talking about the happenings in South Africa of late, where Nigerians are being slaughtered and their businesses laundered and pillaged for the mere fact of their being Nigerian.

Xenophobia. Fear and hatred of foreigners or strangers or of anything that is strange or foreign.

That’s what the media have tagged the grotesque killings and insanity with, what the Merriam-webster dictionary affords an understanding of. I choose to differ. While xenophobia is of fear and hate, mere emotions, the events of the past days, and spanning a history of cold-blooded murder, targeted at Nigerians, is far from a simple uncontrolled emotion. It registers an act of defiance, an act of hate, of ugly brutality, that is calculated, decisive and inhuman. Classifying it as a phobia reeks to me of the same stale deception that has beclouded any real action taken to counter the devastating trend of events and happenings so far.

The South Africa happenings, rather than representing a “-phobia”, are a “-cide”, a suffix descriptive of the act of taking the life of someone, whether really or metaphorically. Many Nigerians have been killed in the fever of mad hate. Others who have lost millions of money in investment and assets to the destructive leaven of hate meted against them have metaphorically, also, lost a part of their lives. That is murder!

What makes the argument even more irritatingly clear is the fact the xenophobia is directed against foreigners, not giving it any particularity. Citizens, expressing such phobia, are much more concerned with defending their rights as citizens against the threat of foreign superiority, than at a directed affront on a particular group of foreigners. Come to think of it, who really are foreigners? Are fellow Africans foreigners to other Africans? Achille Mbembe does say, “No African is a foreigner in Africa! No African is a migrant in Africa! Africa is where we all belong, notwithstanding the foolishness of our boundaries.”

The boundaries that define the Africa of today were but the whimsical deliberations of the 1884 Berlin conference of round-bellied Europeans, eager for a share of Africa, akin to the piece of pie each ate at that tea-tabled, fated period of history. Why must we then let such idiosyncrasies and capriciousness of European pride dictate how we regard ourselves, black of skin and with the African sun smiling down our sweaty, muscle-ripped backs? Isn’t the term “African” with a root in the West-germanic language, Afrikaans, spoken in South-Africa and some other parts of our continent? Aren’t we then brothers, born with the common curse of negro and the black hope of emancipation? 

If we are brothers so, then what is happening in South-Africa can only be rightly termed a fratricide. Brothers have taken up arms against brothers, sisters against sisters. We are tearing ourselves from within. But isn’t that only the consequence of the mental colonialism that Kwasi Wiredu spoke of. All these but reflect the inferiority complex that has eaten deep within our consciousness that we don’t just hate the mirror, but the image the mirror reflects. South Africans only show that they hate the black origin of their hope, the blessing of brotherhood from the same mother. They hate their very selves.

That is the irony of these killings and insanity. That is the irony of Africa, dark-skinned on the outside but fast-suffering cancer, black and dark with despair that is eating her on the inside. May black hope save us!

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