By PHILIP BRANDFORD
The ongoing xenophobic in South Africa against citizens of African countries and Nigerians which brought about the present sweltering conflict between the duo is fueled by the high prevalent level of unemployment and a dire chronic abject poverty. It is an acceptable fact that the Nigerian and other African countries in South Africa are there in search of what to do in order to earn their living (basic need) due to the inertia or in ability of their governments to provide job opportunities.
The two countries are indeed the leading African countries in terms of economic (international Monetary Fund, IMF, October 19, 2016, Nigerian Vanguard newspaper, 11 August 2016 BBC Africa business News report by Mathew Davies). They are equally endowed with human and material natural resources with which they could have become a sort of Eldorado, a land of milk just for a taken. But alas what is happening today, the leadership failure in both countries has catapulted the high level of unemployment which kept rising every day in those African countries. The majority of South Africans and Nigerian especially the less privilege ones, lived in abject poverty, brutish, nasty and squalid due to their pitiable state of joblessness which is caused by the corrupt practices of their leaders.
South Africa hosts the greatest number of immigrants in Africa and the resentment against the foreigners is getting hotter by the day due to the competition for jobs, and also resources such as water, sanitation, health services and inter alia. There is every sign and symptoms that with the rate at which the conflict of xenophobia is presently escalating in different South African communities, and with the subsequent often vandalization of many Nigerian’s apprize business shops, it’s a herald that the conflict will soon turn in to arm violent of which one cannot predict it’s horrible and gruesome ending. There is high tension in the affected communities with the sign of retaliation from the victims.
Therefore, something has to be done in order to resolve that conflict amicably before it turn to a deadly one which is already happening amid the accusations going on by the South African’s that the Nigerians have taken all their jobs. Something really has to be done in order to resolve the ongoing conflict before it is too late. Most of the South African are vehemently angry with their unemployed situation which spur the majority of them to live in squatter camps with no running water and sanitation, most of their schools in remote areas had pupils learning under trees while they see foreigner’s been employed with a white-collar jobs, having different business shops and their children attending private schools in the city.
In order to prevent the present conflict from escalating to violence, using security force can only stop it at the moment and at the peripheral level but it will not get to the root of the problem for solution. I will like to suggest that in order to experience a lasting gamut solution, implicit teleology and the détente between both South Africa and Nigerian about the ongoing xenophobia. The duo should embark on mass employment and ensure that the employment exercise is fair and transparent.
Poverty is indeed one of the factor that propelled and exacerbate the tension of some of the South African who went to the extent of attacking the business shops belonging to the Nigerian’s and at the same time asking them to go back to their country, what a pitiable situation, an African treating his brother as an alien. A patriotic, selfless and concerted effort is required from the government of both countries to equally assist with poverty alleviation through skills provision to their people. Training in entrepreneurship, their focus and target should be on the youths in the rural areas which I believe will be a productive way or strategy to address the jobless or unemployment menace that has bedeviled both countries in recent times. As I made mentioned earlier that the poverty is indeed one of the major contributing factor of the ongoing conflict in South Africa, I will like to suggest on the following which I believe if taken in to consideration by both Government the present conflict may be a thing of history:
1- Creating Good Jobs: – creating a good Jobs and not bad ones, bad jobs are the ones which people earn only a modicum amount that could not buy a bag of rice for their families talk less of paying their children school fees. When people have good jobs, they have enough income, and when people have good income, they can more easily get themselves out of poverty. The UN says that “unemployment and underemployment lies at the core of poverty. For the poor, labor is often the only asset they can use to improve their well-being” (Source U.N. Poverty n.pp).
2- Educating Women:- The two countries should embark on the long term project of educating women and Girls, not that they should not educate boys or young men but the priority should be given to Women and Girls because educating Girls and Women impacts the rest of the societies in which they lived. It is an acceptable fact that women marry and have children, to their health and diseases, to their economic opportunities, to their social standing, and to their general future wellbeing. Educating girls and women can reduce and kept poverty in both South Africa, Nigeria and the entire developing African countries at bay. I also believe that the South African’s who vehemently relish in the ongoing xenophobia are oblivious of their history and the behemoth brotherly altruistic contribution that Nigeria made in her fight against apartheid.
It will behoove the South African Government to embark on a project of new consciousness and identity of the African culture especially via media houses, cinema, advertising and depicting memories and images, African history during slave trade and the contribution made by other African countries especially during their struggle and fight against apartheid should be dredge up. African countries like Nigeria need to be acknowledged at all the time for their indispensable vital role played in developing South African democracy.
PHILIP BRANDFORD ADAMS
WRITES FROM THE UNITED NATIONS UNIVERSITY FOR PEACE