In his Tuesday, September 3, 2019 explainer for the sad events, Pulse New Editor, Jude Egbas put its best. He writes, “The latest spate of attacks on migrants in South Africa began from the suburbs of Johannesburg on Sunday, September 1, 2019.
“By Monday, September 2, South African men and women clutching cudgels and stones were chanting war songs and marching to the central business district of South Africa’s biggest city to burn shops and businesses owned by Nigerians, Somalians and other foreign nationals.
“Before long, more than 50 shops and business premises mainly owned by Nigerians and Somalians, had been burnt to the ground.
“Cars and properties were torched and widespread looting took place across the city.”
On the events, Adetola Olubajo, President of the Nigeria Union of South Africa (NUSA) says, “The means of livelihood of people were looted and destroyed by fire overnight which have left many Nigerians traumatized. Nigeria-owned businesses were seriously affected. A car sales business owned by a Nigerian were among the several businesses set ablaze overnight.”
The issue triggered Nigerian Twitter users. Anger and anguish were palpable in their words as they were frustrated at the cruel fate dished out to their kin in South Africa. Some rightly felt South Africans had become purists who forgot how Africa rallied to support them in the thick of apartheid.
To be honest, it is a brainless war of purism and jingoism on foreigners in South Africa. The xenophobic are no better than their white colonizers. If murder and looting are their way to fight the dominance of hustling foreigners in their country, then they deserve every bad thing they get.
Canvassing for looting
These frustrations even led some Nigerians to exact revenge on South Africa-originated businesses like MTN, Multichoice (DSTV) or Shoprite.
The anger then spilled into Tuesday, September 3, 2019. The calls to vandalize these South Africa-originated businesses intensified as Nigerians became thoughtless in their fits of emotion. Then, celebrities started talking, lending their voices to the movement – not for violence or arson, but against the cruel treatment of foreigners in South Africa.
Nigerian celebrities, xenophobia, YCee and AKA
One of those celebrities was Nigerian rapper and singer, Ycee. In a three tweet onslaught, he took aim at South Africans – especially the men. He fired multiple shots with his thumbs and one of those ended up hitting South African rapper, AKA.
YCee threw it back to AKA’s slightly excessive, infamous anger, and Twitter rant after South Africa lost to Nigeria during the quarter-finals of the 2019 African Cup of Nations which held in Egypt.
To be honest – and to regular people, some of AKA’s tweets before and after the loss portrayed him as someone who hates Nigeria. However, sensible football fans will know that AKA was only acting in the context of a rivalry – yes, a rivalry.
In football, one of the worst things you want is to lose to a rival. Yes, AKA did say some unsavory things, but when you lose to a rival, you can go over the top. This writer even goes completely berserk whenever his favourite team, Liverpool FC loses some games.
After YCee’s tweet went viral, AKA responded to YCee via his Twitter account, @akaworldwide. He tried to exonerate himself from the issue, but Nigerians compounded everything he said till he was obviously frustrated and began tweeting questionable things.
First, he posted a picture of himself with a Nigerian flag wrapped around his neck before a picture of Fela. Granted, that means nothing. Even the fact that AKA is friends with numerous Nigerians doesn’t mean he can’t be xenophobic.
However, if his tweets after that game are why Nigerians are going after him, then every Nigerian that has hit out at AKA needs a reevaluation.
There is simply insufficient evidence in those tweets to suggest AKA is explicitly xenophobic. While nothing about AKA can be absolutely confirmed as most of us have no personal relationship with him, it appears he is more an anti-xenophobia, Nigeria-loving chap than xenophobic.
To support this claim, high-profile Nigerians like M.I. Abaga and Ovie of NotJustOk have come out to publicly support AKA. In truth, this attack on AKA is baseless as his Burna Boy’s tweet calling M.I. Abaga out, but it can be rationalized – Nigerians are angry. They need a scapegoat and it’s human nature to need one when you feel powerless.
It’s sad to see that such infamy is uniting Nigerians, but it’s good to see that we can band together for empathy and jointly criticize a common enemy – xenophobia, not all South Africans. It means we still have hope as a people.
AKA is just a victim and a scapegoat, and Nigerians are wrong for treating him this way. He’s not the xenophobic South Africans killing and looting foreigners in Johannesburg. Even if he is, the grounds for criticizing him are pointless.
The case of ignorance and willfully problematic people
Asides the obvious emotions from Nigerians, a lot of Nigerians are actually acting ignorantly. While defending himself, AKA actually cited the rivalry between Nigeria and Ghana as a defence for his actions. Somebody senselessly equated AKA’s statement to justifying xenophobia.
It seems a a lot of Nigerians equate AKA’s attempt to wash himself clean as a promotion of xenophobia. Some Nigerians have been so basic that they saw AKA’s citation of a rivalry between Nigeria and South Africa as a justification for xenophobia. Those two issues are totally unrelated.
AKA citing a rivalry between Nigeria and Ghana is the rapper’s attempt to justify his outburst in the wake of South Africa’s loss to the Super Eagles in June.
For the ignorant ones…
In case you didn’t know, there is actually a football rivalry between Nigeria and South Africa. It is both bitter and political.
A day prior to that game quarter-final game between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Bafana Bafana of South Africa, Pulse Sports Editor, Steve Dede wrote a beautiful article. It detailed the rivalry between Nigeria and South Africa.
He wrote, “It is a rivalry that was drawn from political sparring and distrust. There is a cliché that football and politics don’t mix but in the case of Nigeria Vs South Africa, the stir has made what would have been just a football game turn into something bigger.
“As the Super Eagles prepare to take to the field against the Bafana Bafana on Wednesday in Cairo, an over two-decade narrative will once again come to the fore.”
The beautiful article takes us back to 1996, took us to year 2000 and beyond. This is for people who want to understand the good fight. If you don’t, you can continue in your ignorance.
Hip-Hop: South Africa vs. Nigeria
Nigerians have taken one of AKA’s tweets out of context. That tweet reads, “It’s a hard pill to swallow man, we keep losing to Nigeria in every way.” Nigerians take this as frustration by a typical xenophobic South African at the success of Nigeria. The tweets fits the narrative, but we’re being too dismissive.
There’s no one way to interprete that tweet. Yes, it could be xenophobic, but when you follow AKA, you might give him the benefit of the doubt. AKA is not only a football fan, he’s a rapper. The rivalry between Nigeria and South Africa is also present in Hip-Hop. Conversations about whose rapper is better will rage on forever.
In 2017, Nigerian rap legend, M.I. Abaga released a viral hit titled, ‘You Rappers Should Fix Up Your Lives.’ A line on the song reads, “Y’all getting killed by the south (Africa), I guess I’m in this sh** for life… SA Rappers out here killing y’all”
As a big homie, it was M.I.’s charge to Nigerian rappers to fix up and not lose further ground to South African rappers. Does that mean M.I hates South African rappers or South Africans?
Nigerian Hip-Hop is having a better time than South African Hip-Hop. AKA has bemoaned that all year long because Hip-Hop is sport. The culmination of these factors led to AKA’s tweet that South Africa keeps losing to Nigeria – it was exasperation, not hate. They can mean the same thing, but not in this case.
It’s incredible that we’re so quick to believe AKA’s words are xenophobic while we’re equally so quick to reject a picture of him wrapped in a Nigerian flag as pretentious. In this situations, you question what face value mean.
If you’re willing to accept and reject convincing things at face value, you should also consider the slight possibility that you might be wrong. Does this writer also hate Nigerians for thinking the bashing of AKA is ridiculous? Nigerians used to bash Ghanaians. Does than mean those Nigerians hate Ghanaians?
Let’s thread carefully.
In the end, Africa will not unite by falling. We are angry, but two wrongs don’t make a right. A few hours before this article was published, a bunch of foolish Nigerians attempted to burn a Shoprite outlet in Jakande, Lekki-Epe expressway, Lagos, Nigeria. They were thwarted and one Nigerian died – not a xenophobic South African in Johannesburg. A Nigerian.
Guess who would have lost had the outlet been burned? Nigerians. They will lose jobs and investment. That’s what ignorance and stupidity begets. Let’s thread carefully.
As for how AKA grew defiant and stoic, you don’t get to annoy someone and also get to decide how they react. Could he have been frustrated and simply lashing out? I guess Nigerians see it as ‘xenophobic confirmations.’ May God help us.