When God created the earth, He planted a beautiful garden of Eden full of gold, waterfalls, rivers, flowers and every good thing for man. Even God saw the garden and acknowledged that it was good. However, at the midst of the garden, is the tree of death. God warned that on the day man eats of the fruit of this tree, he will die. Theologically, this means that every blessing God gives to man is carrying in its belly the seed of his destruction. On the other hand, every obstacle, challenge, God allows to befall any innocent person is carrying in its belly the seed of his destiny. The duty of man, therefore, is to avoid the seed of destruction in his blessings and persevere, while going through challenges, to fulfill his destiny. Examples are rife in the Bible to support this assertion. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit at the centre of the garden of their blessing and was separated from God eternally. Joseph on the other hand refused to compromise his faith despite his challenges of being sold to slavery, sent to prison on false accusation of attempted rape. He persevered and emerged the Prime Minister of Egypt from prison.
In modern world, Japan used to be the undisputed Asian superpower, with China and the rest of Asia her servants. The Emperor of Japan was revered as god. During the second world war, Japan was defeated by America. The two cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were wiped out by atomic bombs. Japan surrendered and was occupied by USA, which established a military base in Japan till date. Democracy was imposed on them. Immediately after the second world war, Japan did not sit idly by blaming everybody for their misfortune. They learnt from their mistakes, picked up the pieces of their lives and moved on. They abolished the army of aggression from their constitution and instantly removed the toga of an aggressive nation which hitherto they were known for. They concentrated on science and technology and became the most inventive nation on earth. Soon after, they became the second most powerful nation on earth economically with her citizens enjoying one of the highest standards of living on earth. They saw blessing in their calamity and grabbed it with two hands
The greatest tragedy of the black man is his inability to see his destiny from the challenges of his life and avoid the seed of destruction in his blessings. Most blacks in America still blame slavery that ended hundreds of years ago for their backwardness. In Africa, nations are still blaming colonialism as their problems even when all the African nations have become independent several decades ago. In Nigeria, some people are still blaming the civil war for their problems and the civil war ended some 50 years ago. The inherent problem of the black man, therefore, is his penchant fo ever looking backward and never looking forward for the solution of his problems.
South Africa is one of the most beautiful places on earth. All the descriptions of the Garden of Eden above are present in South Africa. The land of beauty, beaches, rivers, waterfalls, flowers and gold. The arrival of the whites on the shores of South Africa marked a turning point in the destiny of that lovely country. The weather in the land sooths them and gold grows in South Africa like carrot. They strategized to take over the country while the Blacks were busy fighting against each other for supremacy and enjoying the natural blessings God gave to them. By the time the Blacks realized what was going on, the Whites were not only in charge, but the Blacks were no longer persons but property in their country. The only function allocated to them by the Whites was the uncomplaining servitude to the Whites. They were separated from the Whites and given their own cities. Whereas the Whites were enjoying the highest standard of living in the world, the blacks were suffering the lowest standard of living in the world in their own country.
Under such circumstances, hate became natural. This is why apartheid was believed to have come from the two words “apart and hate”. The struggle for survival and emancipation commenced with so much hate and acrimony. Their men were slaughtered in front of their wives and children or their parents thereby breeding the next generation for hatred. That hatred was to manifest in xenophobia, which means fear or hatred for foreigners. They lost their confidence, self esteem, economy and military. The lucky ones were sent to prison away from their homes. They couldn’t help themselves. The Europeans and the West didn’t give much ado about what was happening because their race was benefiting.
Africa, led by Nigeria, rose to defend their brothers in South Africa. The struggle gathered momentum and soon apartheid was dismantled. South Africa was free. Mandela’s truth and reconciliation commission did not do much because it brought about political reconciliation without economic reconciliation, which favoured the Whites but not the Blacks. There is no reception to theology when a man is hungry.
Immediately after apartheid, Nigerians were loved by all South Africans. The government of South Africa welcomed Nigerians with open hands. First, they were thankful about Nigeria’s contribution to the dismantling of apartheid. Two, they felt that due to long years of apartheid, their men have developed inferiority complex towards the Whites and the boldness of Nigerians vis-a-vis the Whites will begin to develop the right attitude in their men vis-a-vis the Whites. They acknowledged that they lost a lot of men during the struggle for apartheid thereby having the population of women far in excess of their men. They needed more men. To buttress their seriousness, they encouraged Nigerian men to marry their women and obtain citizenship of South Africa immediately. The chemistry between Nigerian men and South African women was electric. One South African lady I met in Enugu, who came on holidays with her Nigerian husband said “when Nigerian men came to South Africa and saw our ‘back’ they rushed it thinking they will finish it, for where? It is still there”.
Nigerians, due to their spirit of industry, engaged in businesses and some of them made great fortunes in that land.
It will be foolish to submit that all Nigerians in South Africa are engaged in legitimate business. But whatever business they engage in, the black South Africans are not their victims as most South African blackmen are not wealthy enough to be defrauded. No Nigerian is known to be officially employed in South African public service which is the singular largest employer of labour. The attack on Nigerians and other foreigners, therefore, on the spurious excuse that they are taking their jobs is, therefore, untenable.
What happened was that the Blacks, having failed to get back at Whites, who are in control of 85 per cent of their arable land and are firmly in control of the economy; their government having failed to restructure the economy to be beneficial to their own Blacks, yet Blacks from other African countries, especially Nigeria, appear to be making it economically, the young Black South African men lost hope, got jealous and misdirected their hate against fellow Blacks to excuse their failure. The Whites legalised the possession of firearms for self defence. A White lady was deprived of her phone forcefully by a young black boy and she did not resist. On turning to run with the phone, she just brought out her pistol and killed the boy. She took her phone and placed a call to the South African authorities and went her way. It is said that when the oppressed cannot get back at their oppressors, they descend on the community of the oppressors.
What is happening in South Africa is failure of leadership. Rather than the leaders seeing the seed of their destiny in the challenge of apartheid and organising a systematic transfer of technology from the Whites to Blacks through free, compulsory education and restructuring their economy through land redistribution, their leaders are busy enriching themselves in collaboration with the Whites and to cover their failures, they are justifying xenophobia. Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa said, “xenophobic attacks in South Africa aren’t targeted at legitimate Nigerian workers or businessmen, but Nigerian criminals”. As a lawyer, I do not know when countries of the world started outsourcing the maintenance of law and order to their own criminals. I was taught in law classes that anybody who takes laws into his hands and kills, robs or hurts another is a criminal. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, South Africa’s Defence Minister agreed with me when she said the attacks against foreigners in South Africa were planned by criminals, but I disagree with her when she said “the reality is that we have an angry nation. What’s happening can never be prevented by any government”. If these group of South African leaders, who have created an army of invective rather than inventive youths, have lost all initiatives, honour demands that they step aside for other more progressive leaders to take over. Change is constant.