Saturday, 14 September 2019

Xenophobia and the Fears Killing Africa


I was thinking this morning..... about Xenophobia and the fear that is killing Africa. Last week Saturday, I needed to buy an item from Game Shop at the mall in my axis of Lagos and was getting ready to drive out when I was reminded that the better part of the mall which also houses Shoprite remains shut. 'How can we be punishing ourselves like this?' I had quipped. 'Our best efforts thus far at decent shopping is at the verge of being killed. Is this reprisal attack on South African firms really hurting South Africans as much as it is hurting Nigerians? I asked in frustration, looking at my young wife. I quickly let it be when my wife gave me a dissenting look, like 'really, is that your response to the savage attack on Nigerians in South Africa?'

But what's really going on? In the last two weeks, xenophobia has been trending on Google, mainstream and social media. News of South Africans attacking foreign nationals in their nation particularly in Johannesburg region has been making headlines. At the last count there were 11 dead, many wounded and millions of dollars lost to looting and burning of the livelihoods of many, including losses from reprisal attacks in Nigeria. While most Nigerians were spitting venom against the South African rascals, many missed the little interesting information coming from the Nigerian response.

First, those that looted and stole from Shoprite in Lagos left the bookshelf untouched. Why would the people focus on looting perishables and ignore the priceless value in books? Then began the musing as I took a deep dive as to the reason why? The fear of books....I would have called it 'bookophobia' but the English man has a word for it, 'Bibliophobia.' This is an unusual phobia of books. Haha!!! I get it, the problem is not xenophobia but bibliophobia. It must be bibliophobia that the South Africans are suffering from. If they had been reading books, they would have discovered the role Nigerians and other Africans played in their independence from apartheid. When a people don't read, they will eventually turn against each other out of ignorance.

Governments of different countries responded to the xenophobia incident in different ways. While Botswana, Zambia and Lesotho immediately issued travel alerts to its citizens, others withdrew their reps from the World Economic Forum (WEF) planned for South Africa. The Federal government of Nigeria also took some steps, but when I read the Daily Trust report that the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has advised the Federal government to take steps to nationalise all South African companies operating in Nigeria to protest the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians, I was like wow! Why should he make that suggestion? Nothing came to mind but 'Sophophobia.' Sophophobia is the fear of knowledge or learning. Our leaders must be suffering from Sophophobia, they are not learning otherwise they would have learnt from the experience of Zimbabwe and Mugabe that forcefully nationalised foreign companies. If that was farfetched, they should have learnt from the bungling of the P&ID contract that has resulted in over $9 billion penalty against Nigeria.

When a people suffers from bibliophobia and their leaders sophophobia, the natural outcome will be xenophobia. Suffice to say that at the root of xenophobia is bibliophobia and sophophobia. Truth is, I do not worry much about the xenophobia in South Africa, I am rather troubled by the local xenophobia of a scale like we have never seen before, Fulaniphobia in southern Nigeria, Ibophobia in far north, itsekiriphobia in Gbaramatu kingdom, Jukunphobia in Tiv land etc. The signs are ominous if we do not address the unhealthy fears of bibliophobia and sophophobia. Our people and leaders must read books to be free. No wonder Hosea 4:6 says 'My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.' Read for knowledge to end domestic and international xenophobia.

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey. 

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