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Afrophobia not Xenophobia

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Of the terms plastered across the front pages of dailies in the past few days following the attacks on Nigerian businesses in South Africa, xenophobia has been prominent. International press trumped for the less shocking “anti-foreigner” but South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor has inserted a different term into the discourse: Afrophobia.

The deplorable situation has been overwhelming with shocking images and videos filtering in from South Africa as attacks on the businesses of African immigrants spread in the country.

Though the South Africa Police Minister, Bheki Cele, and the High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bobby Monroe, denied it was related xenophobia, Pandor said the crisis stemmed from Afrophobia, the fear of Africans.

She said the government was aware of a resentment-driven “Afrophobia” and was working to restore calm.

Initially, the crisis was said to be xenophobic but it became apparent that it is not an attack on foreigners but on Africans from other countries.

If the crisis in South Africa was channelled on foreigners alone other races would be affected. But the allegation has been that (black) foreigners are stealing South African jobs.

Many have questioned South Africa’s apparent amnesia post-apartheid. How the Africans denying them their resources and ‘stealing’ from them were the ones who stood in solidarity with them during the apartheid.

This backdrop of anti-immigrant violence could have far-reaching effects as the continent’s largest economies begin to cut ties. The threats of reprisals in Nigeria on Wednesday forced Pretoria to shut its embassy and consulate in the West African country.

South African companies MTN, and Shoprite closed stores after retaliatory attacks on some of their franchises in Nigeria.

While in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Lubumbashi, residents protested outside the South African consulate and a South African-owned shop was looted.

Zambia also called off a planned football friendly with South Africa.

But the peak of it all was when Nigeria government on Wednesday withdrew from its participation in the World Economic Forum summit and recalled her high commissioner back home.


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