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Xenophobic attacks: A threat to peace By Oluwatosin J. Ologun

With the help of scholars, there is always a word for any occurrence or attitude. Xenophobia came into the mind of people, in Western culture, when there was a xenophobe sentiment in Ancient Greek. Ever since then there have been various uncanny xenophobic and racism attacks in every continent of the world.

According to UNESCO, xenophobia and racism often overlap, but differ in how the latter encompasses prejudice based on physical characteristics while the former is generally centered on behaviour based on the notion of a specified people being adverse to the culture or nation. Interestingly, however, unlike racism and other related notions, xenophobia has an antonym: xenophilia, meaning sympathy for the stranger.

In social and political reality, xenophobia manifests itself in accordance with the division of the world into one’s own race, nation, ethnic group, and culture, and other races, nations, ethnic groups, and cultures. This type of symbolic and normative worldview promotes self-centeredness, and constitutes precisely the kind of cognitive framework within which xenophobia is spawned, articulated, and disseminated.

The outcomes of any xenophobic attack have never been friendly to either the denizens or the foreigners involved. Overtime, recorded cases of xenophobic attacks are uncanny threats to humanity's peace. Looking at the last attack in Johannesburg, it was reported that the clash between South Africans and foreigners was a local quarrel accusing foreigners of taking the jobs of South Africans. 

Statistics shows that there are about 3.6 million migrants in a country over 50 million people. The country has been experiencing poor economic performance at end of 2018, with a 27 per cent level of unemployment. Lugubriously, South Africa has the highest murder rate in the world.

Arguably, minor issues are what emanate to life-taking and property-destroying attacks. In a sane society, it is expedient that we have healthy dialogues as humans, most especially as Africans. It is no gainsaying that foreigners of any land have a role to play in the economic development of the expatriate nation.

In spite of the fact that Nigerians are being killed illegally in South Africa, it is expedient to share that most of the pictures and videos that went viral during the xenophobic attack in South Africa are not related to the current killings of expatriates in South Africa. For the first time, Nigerians at home reacted to the killings of their fellow citizens abroad — by attacking South African owned Shoprite malls and MTN shops in Nigeria — but their channel was felonious.

And, of course, there was President Muhammadu Buhari’s ill treatment to Nigerians living in South Africa. Maybe we are asking too much from our Teflon Commander-in-Chief, that finds it hard to protect Nigerians at home, let us face it, it will be a tall order to ask the president for the protection of Nigerians abroad.

The United Nation, and the countries involved should sit for a healthy and robust discourse to end the recurrent xenophobic attacks, and for this not to be an alarming threat to our peace, we urge the Federal Government to give adequate and more precise attention to xenophobic attacks. Parties involved should treat this issue in a holistic manner, and come with a win-win situation.

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