No thought inside of a man is said to be dangerous or damnable until it is expressed or physically demonstrated. The two major religions in Africa – Christianity and Islam enjoin us to be our brother’s keeper and to love our neighbours as ourselves. God forbids murder; He hates willful damage of lives and property. The United Nations Rights of Migrant Workers as well as African Charter of Human Rights and movement of citizens of African Union member nations, prohibits the needless venture into any form of violence or unprovoked killings anywhere.
The purpose of leadership in an administrative or political governance system is to have a clear direction and/or chat a new cause as much as the leader could influence the followers. When leadership fails, individuals become law unto themselves and that is why the government of the Republic of South Africa under President Jacob Zuma must convince the global community that it did not in any way give vent to the recent ugly xenophobia incident.
For the horrible act called xenophobia which is strong hatred for foreigners to repeat itself in 2015 in the same South Africa where no fewer than 64 persons were killed in 2008, is not only a sad commentary but also brazen negation of principles of civility an civilization.
Whereas it is the inalienable right of all South Africans to enjoy their freedom and liberty as free citizens, the youths ought to be diligently schooled in the process that gave birth to black majority rule in the rainbow nation. Without sermonizing on what is obvious, older generation of South Africans, especially the ANC national and ANC international activists and members owe it a duty to conscientize the Youths on the contributions and sacrifices made by the neighbouring countries, including Nigeria- the only country outside the zone that was among the Frontline States that liberated South Africa from the white minority apartheid regime.
It is uncharitable therefore to repay good with evil, it is un-African to be hostile to brothers and also quite undemocratic not to embrace dialogue in resolving any rift or misunderstanding. Unemployment or job scarcity is a global challenge. Incidentally, Nigeria and South Africa tally on the 24% rate of unemployment. Nigerian businessmen and migrant workers in South Africa do have legitimate means of livelihood, the same for South African blue chip companies and other businesses with huge remittances from Nigeria to their home country’s economy.
Any one that falls foul of the law should be singled out to face justice accordingly. But youths need not follow the dictates of influential mind benders to destroy lives and property of foreigners to avoid unpleasant consequences. Youths and women usually holdout the olive branch for peace in most places because they are often the worst casualties when men go to war.
At Independence in 1960 Nigeria declared Africa as the Centre Piece of her Foreign Policy. Nigeria has since followed this direction, deploying men and materials including huge finances to liberate some African countries under colonial rule. Her key roles in peace-keeping missions to war torn countries as well as commitment to strengthening the defunct Organization of African Unity (OAU) now African Union and the founding of ECOWAS, cannot be denied.
In addition to the forgoing, Nigeria established the Directorate of Technical Aid Corp in 1987, a department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the sole purpose of assisting countries in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific regions in social and economic development. The National Youth Service Corps NYSC and the Graduate Internship Scheme GIS Programmes reflect the interest of young people in Nigeria
Looking inwards, Africa has produced the best and brightest in the world’s topmost bureaucracy and diplomacy offices producing Butrus Butrus Ghali of Egypt and Kofi Anan of Ghana as UN Secretary General at different times and Emeka Anyaoku as Commonwealth Secretary General. With such attainment by these men and other notable Africans, the world would naturally expect their countries and the continent to rise and strengthen its unity and development in diverse sectors including governance, economy, education, security and politics.
The New Partnership for African Development, NEPAD with African Peer Review Mechanism as the livewire has all it takes to harness economic opportunities across the countries of the African Union where noticeable comparative policy and programme advantages can be replicated to achieve growth and development. Despite the fact that the continent has suffered arrested development and modernity gaps created over the decades, Africa, the cradle of civilization cannot be home to ignorants and none entities.
Government of South Africa therefore cannot afford diplomatic row or Doctrine of Reciprocity with other countries now that she currently occupies the African Union Chair. Doing so will amount to questioning the real truth or the integrity of the popular Truth & Reconciliation Commission set up by former President Nelson Mandela, that handled the cumulated, unspeakable sins of the apartheid era which were utterly forgiven.
Again the fame and spirit of the legendary father of peace and democracy Nelson Mandela will be greatly diminished if the black-on-black violence in South Africa is not authoritatively stamped out. It is therefore difficult to understand the motive behind the comment by President Jacob Zuma who was quoted as saying “as much as we can have problem alleged to be xenophobic, our brother countries contributed to this …. Why are the citizens not in their countries?”
African culture thrives on hospitality and the protection of guest or visitor remains a norm and non-negotiable. But if by omission or commission offence occurs, attention is usually drawn and amicable solution proffered. Indeed, time has come for us to have a re-think because as J F Kennedy said “If we cannot be our brother’s keeper, let us at least not be his destroyer”. May the great Africa, our own native land, never go down.
Ukoh is a public affairs analyst