Xenophobia: We dare not forget what Obasanjo, others did for us – Buthelezi
It’s been days after the xenophobia triggered unrest that lead to the destruction of South African owned businesses and properties in Nigeria, the dust is still settling. Many national leaders and policymakers have taken to various media to air their opinion with all standing firmly against xenophobia and refusing it in South Africa or anywhere else, especially on the African continent.
Inkatha Freedom Party founder and traditional prime minister to the Zulu nation, Mangosuthu Buthelezi has warned that South Africans dare not forget or disregard the sacrifices made by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other African leaders for the nation’s independence.
During the apartheid era in South Africa, Nigeria was one of the foremost supporters of anti-apartheid movements, including the African National Congress; the Nigerian government issued more than 300 passports to South Africans seeking to travel abroad. Sonny Okosun, a Nigerian musician, wrote the hit song “Fire in Soweto” in 1977 to commemorate the 1976 Soweto uprising against apartheid in South Africa.
He also praised former president, Olusegun Obasanjo’s role and asked if the xenophobic attacks were the best way to pay back the “huge risks African countries like Lesotho, Swaziland, Nigeria, Zambia, and Tanzania took on our behalf?”
Buthelezi said, “We dare not forget or disregard all that was done for us by African leaders like His Excellency President Olusegun Obasanjo. As a member of the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group, General Obasanjo revealed to the world the real conditions of our people under apartheid. He supported us in our stand against the regime’s plan to deprive us of our citizenship.
“In fact, on the very day that Transkei took so-called independence, President Obasanjo arranged for me and my wife to be in Nigeria so that I could avoid attending Transkei’s independence ceremony. General Obasanjo invited me to Nigeria again this year, where I delivered a lecture in celebration of his 82nd birthday.
“This is one of the giants of Africa. What are we doing to his people?”
During Buthelezi’s speech on Sunday, the mob walked out on him, while chanting, “foreigners must go back to where they came from.”
The resulting violence led to the death of one person.