First of all, I have condemned South Africans who loot and burn businesses belonging to foreign nationals, and I have risen against those who take lives. I have said that driving out African immigrants from South Africa will not give them the education and jobs they need to take care of their families.
Having done that all week, I also noticed the African hypocrisy as well in analyzing the events in South Africa, and in failing to recognize that we do the same thing every day in our backyard to those we brand as foreigners.
For instance, when you hear Nigerians say, “oh my God, how can South Africans lynch people?” Kindly dismiss them. It’s all fake nationalism.
You see, on my first day in the newsroom, my editor, Mr. David Odey, who was from Yala in Cross River State, sent me to cover a public lynching in Egbeda area of Lagos.
When I got there, thousands were celebrating as fire engulfed two men accused of robbery. With tires/tyres wrapped around their necks, people set them on fire, jubilated and watched their painful exit into the world beyond. I covered many others after that.
Also, in Lagos, Igbo people were tagged foreigners. People would accuse them of being criminals and so on, and the king of Lagos would threaten them to vote for a particular candidate or be deported to Igboland.
On one occasion, an Igbo woman won the primary election to represent the opposition People’s Democratic Party in the governorship election in Lagos after her Yoruba husband was assassinated by Yoruba killers. Do you know what they did? They replaced her, saying Lagos was a Yorubaland and it was sacrilegious for an Igbo woman to represent a major party in the election.
My Yoruba friends would tell me that Igbo were also maltreating Nigerians from other parts of the country in Igboland.
I used to live in Mile 12 and Yoruba would attack Hausa there because they were dominating the Mile 12 market and kill them. The Yoruba governor who was just removed even decided to close down the market.
Also in Lekki, he set the houses of people in the waterfront community on fire, leaving thousands of them homeless, because they said they were foreigners from Togo and Benin Republic. To set their homes on fire, they accused them of being criminals and hiding armed robbers. The community was called Otodo Gbame community.
I am talking about Nigerians seeing other Nigerians as foreigners. Imagine how they then see people who come from other countries? Imagine them dominating the economy in Alaba? We still have a long way to go.
Before we play the cool guys and paint others as the worst human beings, we need to recognize that we have a long way to go at home.
You know, I have lived long enough and got white hair by the way to know that whether here in Washington D.C. where I am writing this, or over there wherever you’re reading it, the truth remains that I will preach peace always, and stand, and die, by the truth!