ALL THAT are happening inside South Africa today will without question cause the souls of late Miriam Makeba, Sonny Okosun and their ilk of the era of the struggle against apartheid in that country to suddenly become restless. The development also rubbishes the fight of the late General Murtala Ramat Mohammed and Moshood Kashimawo Abiola et al against apartheid. Same goes for the efforts of the likes of former military Head of State, and later former civilian President, Olusegun Matthew Obasanjo.
Need I underscore the fact that the common thread that connects efforts by these many Nigerians as well as many others not mentioned was the need to extricate our fellow African brothers and sisters and indeed their State from the wicked, inhuman and demonic strangle hold of discrimination that then government in South Africa instituted to continuously perpetuate their illegal and exploitative regime in that country.
Thank God for the unbreakable will, zeal and zest of late Nelson Mandela whose decades of incarceration in the dreaded Robben Island cell by the apartheid regime only helped to buoy his resolve for a free South Africa where colour bar and its accompaniments will be abrogated. The world got the much needed sigh of relief in 1994.
But before then, and for over a century, South Africa was locked against the rest of Africa and indeed the country and her people were not easily accessible to the rest of the world as the white minority used their might to impose racial segregation, which denied the majority black of everything, including quality life and the rest of the world rose in support of the majority black in popular agitation for the liberation of a country held in the worst and unusual form of domination in all spheres of life.
One must add here that that support given South Africa by practically the rest of the more positively minded world, was not because it was South Africa. It was because a part of humanity with legitimate rights to their land have been deprived and decimated only because they have resources of global economic values, and not just because of the colour of their skin. Everyone saw the anti- apartheid struggle as a liberation struggle, an integral part of the global struggle against all forms of oppression.
Nigeria was certainly not the only country whose citizens and governments actively participated in the international struggle against apartheid. Many African countries indeed provided cover for leading South African activists in exile.
After the xenophobic attacks in that same country in 2008 which left about 60 people dead with Nigerians, Mozambicans, Somalians, and Congolese especially being the targets, not a few expected that such re-occurrence as the world is currently witnessing in South Africa would be re-enacted by a people so miffed by their government that they misdirect their resultant effusions at foreigners who are in the main, innocent at the end of the day. And to think of it, most businesses in the informal sector are operated by immigrants from these countries, particularly Nigerians.
But why immigrants from India, Pakistan and even Britain who perform almost similar trades like the first including British citizens are exempted from the attacks, nobody can tell for now.
Put together, I consider current happenings in South Africa as misplaced aggression. Protesting youths of that country have certainly given vent to their grievances against their system in the wrong direction. A good student of history among them would sit back and recall how Nigeria was the chief benefactor of their country in her days of war against Apartheid.
Unreasonable arrogance
Even as most Nigerians here and in the Diaspora are still trying to comprehend the raison d’être for the rather misplaced aggression of protesting South Africans against foreigners in their land including mostly people from Nigeria, GSM service provider and indigene of the country on the southern tip of Africa, MTN dared the audacity of Nigerians when it “warned” that should government yield to pressure to the company packing from the country, no fewer than 6,000 jobs would be negatively affected. Affected Nigerians, the company further warned, would be thrown into the unemployment market.
And as if that was not enough an insult from a self-centred company whose services most Nigerian subscribers are speedily dumping for its questionable practices, rubbed it in that calls for the boycott of its services were unjustified as such an action would affect its support chain, which could cause another 500,000 Nigerians to lose their means of livelihood.
Before I continue with this write-up, I must warn the company’s Corporate Service Executive, Wale Goodluck that in case he cannot really recollect, MTN reaps a huge after-tax profit from Nigerian subscribers to the extent that it can be said to account for over 70 per cent of its Continental Africa earnings annually.
Instead of pushing that inglorious statement on the protests against South Africa interests in Nigeria following the happenings in MTN’s home country, Goodluck ought to have utilized the opportunity presented to highpoint his company’s social responsibility achievements.
If he had thought along that line, perhaps he would not have any need to state in the same press statement that “… when you look at our support chain, we have about 500,000 Nigerians gainfully employed. So, boycotting our services simply means destroying so many other Nigerian businesses and making over 500,000 other Nigerians to lose their jobs.
“This business supports a lot of businesses across the length and breadth of Nigeria. Many of the businesses that are affiliated to South Africa are in the retail space, supporting the growth of Nigeria and employing so many Nigerians.”
Goodluck must also note that bottom-line, MTN is not a monopoly. And like one regular Facebook friend observed this week, “there is Airtel, Glo and Etisalat! This is not how a manager in charge of social responsibility should talk!”
Methinks that the company’s response has not done much to assuage the angst of Nigerians against it and other South African interests here. Perhaps, appropriate damage control measures including reputation management is what affected interests need right now even as they should collaborate with Nigerian government officials for a positive way forward.

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