WITH Adetunji Ayobrown
Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs
Africa of whom my grandmother sings
On the banks of the distant river
I have never known you
But your blood flows in my veins
Your beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields
The blood of your sweat
The sweat of your work
The work of your slavery
Africa, tell me Africa
Is this your back that is unbent
This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation
This back trembling with red scars
And saying no to the whip under the midday sun
But a grave voice answers me
Impetuous child that tree, young and strong
That tree over there
Splendidly alone amidst white and faded flowers
That is your Africa springing up anew
Springing up patiently, obstinately
Whose fruit bit by bit acquires
The bitter taste of liberty. – DAVID DIOP
This is a poem that was taught with all vigour by my class teacher, who will not fail to do his own part of the teaching. However, failure to appropriately recite this poem off hand always incurred the wrath
of my class teacher then. The 24-stanzas, ‘Africa my Africa’, poem
written by David Diop… was a must-to-recite poem in my secondary
school days. The poet, who lived between 1927 and 1960 called for the
true spirit of African-hood, even ever before many young Africans were
born is indeed very apt at this time. The above is part of the poem as
written long before the present self-imposed inhumanity among blacks,
In this globalised, developed aged and time where young entrepreneurs
are making deals and signing contracts across continental and
international borders, yet news had it that Pretoria was forced to
shut its embassy in Abuja over threats of retaliatory violence as
South African companies, MTN, Multichoice, owners of DSTV and Shoprite
closed stores in Nigeria after retaliatory attacks attempts over
resentment in name of Afro-phobia or xenophobia (racial intolerance)
exhibited by South Africans in the last couple of years.
‘When the evil collects, he sends your relatives or your friends, not
too late on the rent’, indeed a true reminder. How can South Africa
forget so soon roles played by Nigeria and other Africans, even with
their lives during the former apartheid nation’s hell on earth in the
hands of their ‘white masters’? That they can readily forget really
called for pity. A source claimed that at least, five Africans have
been killed in just an attack, although, in an interview, Pandor
Naledi said South Africa was in constant contact with Nigerian
authorities and was also working to restore calm in areas affected by
the violence, but how to tackle the resentment is left unexplained.
Late and former Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, said it is only
in South Africa that illiterate villagers think a qualified medical
doctor from another country is the reason for his unemployment but
sadly, we took his statement with a pitch of salt, not taken serious
at all. And now the deed is about to be done.???*** Air Tanzania has
suspended its flights to South Africa. Mafikizolo cancelled their show
in Zimbabwe over fear of violence due to xenophobia in South Africa.
Nigerian Rapper, Vector cancelled his group’s tour to South Africa.
Tiwa Savage also cancelled her performance at DSTV Delicious Festival
in South Africa. Angry Zambians set ablaze a South African Airways
Aircraft in Zambia Airport. Fear gripped Africa leaders as Zambian
students storm South African Embassy and wrecked havoc. The lists is
unending, who knows what is next. Unfortunate world, what some people
call massacre, others call it playtime, though i think it’s better to
be your brother’s keeper.
When Ben Murray-Bruce said that Nigeria is fighting the symptoms of
xenophobia and not the cause, many thought his words are not it. But
did anyone notice this as well, ‘there is resentment and we need to
address’, was another statement credited to Pandor. Why they are
attacking foreigners, South African Foreign Minister, Pandor Naledi
Pandor gave reasons for the prejudice against people from other
African countries and their businesses. But the question is, Africans
Born in Bordeaux, French West region, the African Poet, David Diop
wrote in his poem which reflected hope of an Africa free of colonial
rulers, and in support of African Independence. Not in his wildest
thoughts did the writer ever imagine anything close to xenophobia or
Afrophobia when in his poem expressed his pain, struggle for
understanding and his yearning for the freedom of black slaves. So who
will save blacks from blacks?
While Nigerians are bent on destroying all South African businesses,
heavy sanction is placed on its airlines in Cairo, as Egypt government
grounds all South African aircrafts in Cairo. More to come as this
North African nation is mean, serious and bent on reprisals in all
ways. Oh goodness! Brothers killing brothers, Zambian DJ beaten black
and blue for playing South African music in his country.
Many Nigerians still living down there strongly believe and have this
(un)popular saying, ‘I am unable to quit because I am currently too
legit’, they held on to that belief because they felt that they have
contributed more to their host nation, even more than the average
South Africans themselves, and the reason for the phobia or outright
hatred, as simple as that. ‘The resentment’, many thought that is what
Pandor was referring to when he diplomatically said there is an
Afrophobia they were sensing that exists, and truly as Africans, we
need to address that quickly and urgently too before it gets too late.
‘Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs’, was how Diop puts
it, but are the rampaging killers of fellow Africans in the name of
whatever phobia truly proud African warriors, truly there is a
resentment to address but surely, posterity will judge.
‘But your blood flows in my veins’, a truism Nigeria have shown in
many ways, a fact fellow South and other African brothers need to keep
in update. I never for once thought the continent could turn to this;
Africa of whom our parents sang songs of hope and encouragement while
raising their children is now on the part of self-destruction. Our
continent ravaged by underdevelopment and poverty, yet see what we are
doing to ourselves, truly, ‘Under the weight of humiliation’, this
back trembling with red scars and we are still saying yes to the whip
under the midday sun, was truth and nothing but the truth when Diop
sang his verse.
‘The blood of your sweat, the sweat of your work and the work of your
slavery’, most Africans living down south are there looking for
greener pastures, a better living condition of life within their
fatherland. So tell ‘Africa, tell me Africa, is this you, this back
that is bent, this back that is already broken.
But where are the grave voices to give answers to the resentments
questions starring us all in the face? Is this your own version of
Africa springing up anew? Our leaders and every one of us must address
this and never forget the bitter taste of liberty.
So, Africans, what are those resentment we need to address, every
African leader must avoid leadership failure or abdication of their
statutory duties, panache and being rudderless when it comes to
ensuring security of lives and property in our African nations.
Ensuring peace and brotherliness for Africa our Africa indeed is a
must for all of us Africans.
Religious bodies in South Africa dismissed claims by the South African
government that the attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners in the
former apartheid nation were not xenophobic as incorrect. ‘Reports
stated that our government is doing very little to protect the
victims. We received reports of police standing by idly in Pretoria
while shops were being looted and people attacked. Not a single arrest
was made on that day. Let us be absolutely clear – this is not an
attempt by concerned South Africans to rid our cities of drug dealers.
And this is not the work of a few criminal elements. It is xenophobia,
plain and simple. If it was about drugs, why are South African drug
dealers not being targeted as well? Are we really to believe that
there are none? And why are drug addicts who rob people in our city
centres to get money to buy drugs not being targeted? If it is the
work of a few criminal elements, why are South African-owned
businesses not being looted as well? These are issues raised according
to sources among its citizens.
Many Africans don’t blame the likes of US President, Donald Trump,
when he said he will be disappointed if South Africa will act on
xenophobia just because the South African government body actions show
no seriousness. Even among the citizens, their government is doing
next to nothing to stem the xenophobic tide.
Though, steps so far taken by the Nigeria government is commendable
but must be sustained. Organisations like ECOWAS, African Union,
United States and European Union should all take a clear position and
condemn this barbaric act in its entirety. And beyond statements, the
African Union (AU) must initiate a new convention on xenophobia to
protect Africans in Africa and all member nations must be signatories.
*Ayobrown, Senior System Analyst, National Pilot Newspaper, writes