South African crisis Afrophobia, not Xenophobia – Ezekwesili

Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili has said the crisis in South Africa is Afrophobia and not Xenophobic as only Africans especially Nigerians have been target of attacks from South Africans.

Ezekwesili said this at a special session to address Xenophobia at the World Economic Forum, held in South Africa.

Afrophobia is a perceived fear of the cultures and peoples of Africa, as well as the African diaspora.

She also said the South African Government needs to offer a sincere apology to the whole continent.

South Africa in the last couple of days has seen a series of attacks against foreign nationals.

Ezekwesili said: “I believe that there are some important steps that South Africa government should be able to take immediately in order to send a signal of what I call Afrophobia, it is Xenophobia.

“I haven’t seen any Italian, or any Europeans. I haven’t seen Chinese or Indians being harmed, maimed, losing properties. I haven’t seen any of that, but I have seen a targeting, especially of my country Nigeria and I have seen a lot of single story where people were saying that Nigerians engage in criminal activities in South Africa, I know that is a single story,” she added.

“Well, I also know that 18% of those that teach in South Africa are Nigerians academic. Many Nigerian doctors are the ones who serve, provide health services in the rural areas of South Africa and they have leaved peacefully here. This danger of a single story must be taken on by the government immediately to deescalate further degeneration of relationship.”

“I think that the President of South Africa and the government needs to have a speedy and conclusive process for those that have been arrested for the latest violence. The government must also go out and engage with the victim of the violent.”

The Former Minister had faced criticism from Nigerian government and some Nigerians on social media for attending the conference after Nigerian government boycotted it.


Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was billed to speak at the summit, but pulled out on the day the forum started.

The President Muhammadu Buhari New Media aide, Bashir Ahmad, had disclosed on his official and verified twitter handle that some Nigerians went ahead to attend the forum after the country pulled out.

Bashir later said Ezekwesili was at the summit on her own.

He said, “We all thought you had sympathise with them and boycott the WEF to properly protest the attack”

Ezekwesili in response said, “let your boss know that I am actually leading an effort here in South Africa that will help safeguard our citizens not the childish silly politics his government , aides and praise singers constantly play with the lives of our citizens.”

When asked about the criticism during the Special Session on Xenophobia, she said “when there is a failure from the government, the citizen needs to act. It was very important for me to put out my voice out here so that South Africa must do the right thing, same as Nigeria. The two country must immediately and deescalate this and the Nigerian government must be open to overture from the South African govt for deescalate this.”


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