EFFECTS OF XENOPHOBIC ATTACKS ON NIGERIA’S IN SOUTH AFRICA
1.0 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The immense economic development that has characterised post-apartheid South Africa, has opened the country to the outside world. The associated economic success and pull factors such as employment, education, vibrant economy and stable political environment have ultimately led to nationals from different countries migrating to South Africa.1 The migration of these foreign nationals has, however, led to conflicts and various interpretations as to the need and purpose of foreign nationals in the host country. The above noted scenario has led to a spate of xenophobic violence against foreign nationals in South Africa. It is against this background that this study seeks to analyse the social-economic effects of xenophobic violence specifically, on Nigerian nationals residing in South Africa, as one of the groups of foreign nationals that were affected by the xenophobic violence.
As stated by Stephen Castles, the opening of borders by different countries, globalisation and trade exchanges between and among countries, have led to foreign nationals settling in various host countries for different reasons.2 This mix of different nationals in one setting has led to conflicts and misunderstandings between these nationals thus, the xenophobic violence that have characterised these settings.3 The xenophobic violence that characterised the affected environments left a lot of unspoken damage to the lives, and relations between nationals of different countries. It is in this light that the researcher seeks to examine the effects of xenophobic violence on Nigerian nationals residing in South Africa.
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
There have been numerous cases of xenophobic violence on foreign nationals in recent years in South Africa. These cases of violence have resulted in the attacks on the lives and properties of foreign nationals resident in South Africa by the citizens of South Africa. Evidence of these attacks has been posted and circulated in the international system through social media such as WhatsApp and Facebook. The tendency for the cases of xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa, to socio-economic lives of the victims and other foreign nationals residing in South Africa is very high. Charlie Yaxley, an UNHCR spokesman, was for example, quoted in a news article to lament, condemn and called on the authorities of South Africa to stop the xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa, in order to save lives and properties.4 This is, therefore, an indication that the xenophobic attacks in South Africa may have a significant effect on the socio-economic lives of the victims and other foreign nationals residing in South Africa.
Despite the fact that some evidence of pictures, posted on social media platforms, have shown how some Nigerian migrants suffered physical assaults during xenophobic attacks in South Africa, much research work is not done to examine the social-economic effects that Nigerian immigrants have experienced during and after the xenophobic attacks. It is, however, needed for a thorough research work to be conducted, not only to examine the impact of the xenophobic attacks on Nigerian migrants, but to also come out with important recommendations with regards to managing relationships between foreign nationals and citizens of South Africa. This dissertation, therefore, seeks to examine the social-economic effects that Nigerian victims experience during and after the xenophobic attacks in South Africa and also come out with lessons and recommendations with regards to managing relationships between foreign nationals and citizens of host countries.
1.2 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The research was guided by the following questions:
- What are the causes of xenophobic violence and effect on foreign nationals in South
- What are the socio-economic effects of xenophobic violence on Nigerians residing in South Africa?
- To what extent has the South African government’s solution of ending xenophobic violence eased the effects on foreign nationals in general and Nigerians in particular?
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
- To find out the causes of xenophobic violence and its effect on foreign nationals in
- To examine the impact of the socio-economic effects of xenophobic violence on Nigerians foreign nationals residing within South Africa.
- To ascertain the extent to which the South African government’s solution of ending xenophobic violence has eased the effects on foreign nationals in general and Nigerians in particular.
1.4 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study is limited to examining the social-economic effects of xenophobic violence on Nigerian migrants in South Africa. The study reflected on a specific period between 2007 and 2014, in which foreign nationals where subjects of xenophobic violence in South Africa and more specifically, use Nigerians resident in South Africa as participants of the study. The study furthermore reviewed relevant polices and frameworks influencing migration and dynamics involved in migrant socio-economic livelihoods in host countries and South Africa’s foreign policy in particular to foreign migrants.
1.5 RATIONALE OF THE STUDY
The research study identified significant social-economic effects of xenophobic violence on Nigerian nationals residing in South Africa. This investigation is beneficial to various government decision makers and stakeholders as they make policies governing the management of relationships between foreign nationals and host countries’ citizens. Furthermore, support systems structure of foreign nationals in various countries would be informed of the social-economic effects of xenophobia. The findings from the study will also help to strengthen and inform national governments on the importance of managing migration of their citizens to foreign countries, considering the experiences they may encounter in foreign lands. Again, the study will help future researchers who are likely to undertake research in diplomatic relations between various countries and migration dynamics between nationals of different countries.
1.6 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Definitions of some terms differ with contexts. The following terms have been defined in the context in which they have been applied in this study.
The word “xenophobia” is understood as the systematic construction of strangers as a threat to society justifying their exclusion and at times, suppression which often refers to discourses and practices that are discriminatory towards foreign nationals.17 Xenophobia is a multifaceted term. The word – xenophobia is derived from a Greek word – Xeno meaning stranger or foreigner, and – Phobia meaning – fear.18
While xenophobia is reflective of the general fear or hatred, Afrophobia is Afro-hatred mainly directed at immigrants of African nationalities.19 From this insight, xenophobia has to do with fear or hatred of the other. In present-day South Africa, Afrophobia is a manifestation of distrust and envy towards black foreigners, seen as a threat because they are able to “slip undetected into the black community and thus potentially steal the jobs and women of the indigenous black South African men.20 In addition, Afrophobia can be defined as the ideology and practice of extreme hatred, hostility, prejudice, fear, dislike, disapproval and discrimination towards Africans, people of African ancestry, culture and the African continent.21