CAPE TOWN SOUTH AFRICA – The Nigerian community has spoken out against xenophobic attacks and the challenges they face against the backdrop of the visit by their president to South Africa.
Last month foreign nationals were attacked across Joburg resulting in their businesses being destroyed and 12 people being killed.
Acting president of Nigerian Community Western Cape Cosmos Echie told OgeneAfrican: “Many South Africans hold a negative perception of Nigerians based on information being spread which focuses on how Nigerians are mainly involved in illegal activities such as drug dealing and human trafficking. However, this is just a minority and this narrative needs to be shifted.”
Echie said a large number of Nigerians also run professional businesses and are qualified lawyers, lecturers and professors. “We must also take note of how they contribute positively to the Western Cape.”
The South African/Nigeria Bi-National Commission conference was held Thursday in Pretoria. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari met President Cyril Ramaphosa to discuss ways in which ties could be strengthened and prevent deterioration or blows to the intra-African trade.
“We are optimistic about the BNC but we are concerned that the many bilateral trade agreements that already exist between the two countries have done little to uplift small businesses or recognise the activities of Nigerian professionals. It appears very little is done to promote social cohesion and harmony and these latest attacks almost had an irreparable effect on the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa,” he said.
Niger Delta activist Pastor Barry Wuganaale, who has been living in South Africa for 16 years, said: “Following the attacks, we have seen the importance of telling our story more so now than ever. We realised that the more we keep quiet, the more power others will have to demean us.”