Why We Should Care About Xenophobic Attacks in South Africa

The horrific attacks levied on migrants in Johannesburg is the catastrophic storm that recalls the ultra-violent disruption that defined the years between 2000 and 2008, when more than 60 foreigners were targeted and killed in South Africa.

I don’t know enough about the history of that part of the continent outside of what was taught in classrooms, but you don’t need to be stuck at a desk with a chalkboard as your guide to comprehend the centuries of oppression that has been exacted on the Black population of a gorgeously blessed nation, that has been overrun by White invaders who formalized the brutality of apartheid.

We are aware of Nelson Mandela’s omnipotency, and how his life’s struggle and pledge on behalf of his people was the inspirational and durable legacy that led to numerous biopics, and in-depth documentaries, that attempted to capture the historic manifest of what it means to love your country for the sake of equality for all.

We know about Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and the selflessness that led to the ultimate sacrifice of fighting for the right to a fair and proper existence for the anthem of a heritage that she trumpeted long and hard to keep alight, under the banner of her husband, with whom she shared the prominence of being labeled freedom fighters to the death.

The maternal and paternal patriots have since passed on to a higher realm, and it’s during these periods of extreme duress, that we desperately miss the tangibility of that overwhelmingly bright lantern, that vividly depicts the historic tales that capture the systemic chaos of our lifetime.

The terrifying events unfolding on the charred blocks of Johannesburg absolutely matter for this Nigerian-American writer, who happens to have a long-lost uncle who stealthily moved to that area two decades ago, and basically refused to keep in touch with his relatives.

The memory of him is nostalgically intertwined with our faded youthfulness, and how his impossibly handsome face and sweet smile still warms my heart when I’m lucky enough to still summon those snapshots that are comfortingly intact.

As we wait to hear from him with the hope that “no news is good news,” my heart aches for families who have lost loved ones in this bloody massacre that has claimed lives, although the exact count of those who’ve been killed hasn’t been confirmed.

There’s so much confusion surrounding this awful mess, and with the formidable political correctness that offers limited capacity to share the grittiness of emotions in a public forum without the intense fear of evoking online shaming that can last for weeks, the deafening silence from those who should care is frustrating.

Sure, we have to do the research and arm ourselves with the truths before daring to post summations of what’s befalling a shattered population, suffering from the disease that’s also destroying lives in our own communities, but when our brothers and sisters are being grazed to the ground, they deserve the same attention that we give to trending items that feel legit enough for the grand parade of thoughts.

There are so many “influencers” who are are staying silent despite being connected to the ongoing strife though the reports of how Nigerians are bearing the brunt of the trauma, as businesses are reduced to rubble, and the maddening crowd are relentlessly demanding the immediate deportation of foreigners who are posing a threat to their livelihood and survivability.

This isn’t a passive/aggressive way to call out those who prefer to privately monitor the updated news feed with the intent to comment later, after other influencers with blue check marks have led the charge.

It’s just a reminder of the unraveling threads that have always been fragile due to the manipulative weight of White invaders, who introduced destabilizing structures that were meant to cause the permanent destruction of Black people, with the assurance that the Western world will continuously benefit from the consequences of those invasions at the expense of victimized generations.

The growing movement of xenophobia in the United States is another state of emergency that can’t be ignored.

If you follow rapper and activist Talib Kweli on Twitter, then you have to be aware of his daily battles with the movement known as #ADOS (American Descendants of Slaves), and how those combative episodes are filled with dreadful evidence of what White supremacy has evilly gifted us.

The tensions arise from the long overdue conversation that targets the outstanding debt in the form of reparations which is undoubtedly a legitimate avenue that must yield amicable results.

There’s also the immigration issue, and how Black migrants in the United States are displacing American-born Blacks in the job sectors, and even in Hollywood, where ambitious castings of prominent Black roles like the upcoming film about iconic warrior Harriet Tubman, which is being portrayed by British-Nigerian actress and singer Cynthia Erivo, has proven to be a bone of contention for the group that’s fighting against the threat of forced dominance by those they deem as traitors.

But when we delve deeper into the layers of discontent, there’s the argument of how African migrants have traditionally looked down upon Black Americans, and those tensions have hovered above our relations for decades, without the proper addressing that could’ve minimized the almost irrevocable damage.

My Nigerian parents arrived in America in the early seventies to pursue their college education, and that was an era when there was a massive influx of African migrants, who were readily advised by eager-minded White Americans about the contagious infection that occurs when mixing with “the Blacks,” who were unfairly and wrongly presented as troublesome detractors.

Planting those seeds of discord that bloomed into the forest of falsehoods that were meant to prevent the organic assimilation of foreign Blacks in ways that could’ve been endearingly beneficial to the burgeoning establishment of Blackness, on a scale that would’ve surely uprooted the dysfunctional symbiosis of Whiteness, was another devilish scheme that has amassed open wounds that are presently bleeding out.

#ADOS is rightfully fighting for reparations, as well as the power to protect their legacy from high-profile infiltrators, who’ve publicly demonstrated their disrespect for an enriched culture that they’re profiting from without the receipts that prove their authenticity. Those are the accusations that are ravaging Erivo and others in her category, who are embattled by the avalanche of disapproval on social media platforms.

Similar sentiments are shared by South Africans, who recently went on a nationwide trike to protest the hiring of non-South African truck drivers. Those disruptions were intensified by the rioting and looting that began on September 1st, resulting in the damage of fifty businesses that were mostly operated by Nigerians.

And true to form, social media is playing a damning role in the spread of packaged content that contains fake items, that arrive in the messaging center of WhatsApp for the trickery of naive users who believe the validity of viral videos that prove why “ALL FOREIGNERS MUST GO!”

WhatsApp has still not figured out how to monitor the over-population of fake news that caters to users in developing countries, who are famished for the visuals that seem harmless, but are potent enough to dismantle democracies through gross negligence that cruelly capitalizes on the vulnerability of oppressed communes.

It’s too early to profess how the mayhem in Jeppestown and Johannesburg will be amicably resolved, but there’s definitely the urgency to return to the classroom for a thorough revision of how Nigeria demonstrated the durability of allyship to South Africa during the bleakness of apartheid, and impending independence.

At the end of the day, we have been bamboozled by the weaponized tools of Whiteness and the supremacy that turned lavishly lush havens into oil swamps that are still soaked in the environmental crisis that humanitarian agencies like the United Nations have casually swept under the rug because of the necessity of funds that are supplied by the Western perpetrators.

The Niger Delta was the former “British Oil Rivers Protectorate”

White invaders knew exactly what to do when it came to placing the irreversible curse on Blackness, and so far, those efforts are thriving at the expense of generations who are turning against each other under those stipulated commands.

White supremacy is the culprit.

The global migrant crisis that features capsized vessels with floating Black bodies in the Mediterranean sea is the illustration of what colonialism performed when those colonies were created with the incentive of a lifetime of poaching, that would leave hampered natives searching high and low for the corners of the earth that will have them.

Imagine the fucked up scenario whereby White people attack Black people in their primal territories, and then force upon them a way of life that’s meant to make the process of their degradation righteously convenient. And then once overpowered rulers in strategically located villages have been forced into signing away their riches, the long-awaited exit by the White invaders commences under the entrapment known as “independence.”

But we were never free. How can we accept our “independence” when our resources have been permanently redirected to our colonizers, while we are left with the fate of ceaseless tribal wars and the trauma of an incurable shock treatment.

Apartheid was another heartbreaking form of abuse from Whites, that left the deep tissue scarring that was inevitably going to haunt the rightful owners of stolen land and wealth, that continues to be brandished by their abusers.

What’s happening in South Africa really matters, regardless of how well you comprehend the vastness of a landscape that links Blackness together in this volatile vortex of disillusionment, and the complexities of relationships, that Whiteness distorted with the canvas of supremacy that will ultimately be the death of us.

As a writer, my passion is to explore and interpret based on the instincts that motivate those tendencies. I certainly don’t have the answers and I may have even delivered inconsistencies in my writing that hopefully will be pointed out because I never want to stop learning and evolving.

We can’t ever turn away from the messiness of our legacy because the attacks come from the source that’s still enjoying abundance from Black labor — and until we unite on all fronts to collect what is owed — from Nigeria to South Africa to America and beyond — we will never be truly free.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store