As a foreigner living in South Africa and a Nigerian, I won’t keep quiet over this recent Afro phobic attacks going on in some provinces of South Africa. I have lived in South Africa for 17 years. I have three businesses and I have very wonderful South Africans who work for me.
I boldly state that I have never indulged in any form of criminal activity to make money or to make life more pleasant for me in South Africa. I am married to a South African whose family I see and have accepted as mine. I am not the only foreigner or Nigerian with this kind of record.
Crime is crime no matter who commits it. There is no crime that is only committed by foreigners. Criminals are in every country and they should not be termed foreigners. When we call criminals foreigners then every foreigner automatically becomes a criminal.
Those who do crime and live by crime must face the wrath of the law as individuals. I have not seen a situation where an entire community get wiped out because some members of their community are involved in criminal activities.
Painting everyone with the same brush is dangerous and the ripple effect is what we are experiencing; where businesses of individuals who have done nothing wrong are destroyed or looted because they are foreigners and foreigners are criminals.
It is not hidden that there are foreigners whose activities are conducted in unpleasant and illegal ways in South Africa but these also have their counterparts who are South Africans and the law is there to deal with them.
South Africa is a great country with great potentials for development but the youths are not being trained to key into areas like entrepreneurship which can boost the rate of employment and self-empowerment in the country. The opportunity is there to compete favorably with foreigners and to even overtake them if the youths are ready to emulate them in business rather than concluding that these foreigners are all criminals.
There is a mind shift that needs to take place and the onus is on our institutions of learning to not only educate people on the economic setbacks of Afrophobia attacks but also to educate our learners on job creation. This is key because what we have today is a situation where there are limited job opportunities and the learning institutions are producing more job seekers instead of job creators. This vicious circle will continue and it’s adverse effect will increase , if we don’t take proactive and drastic measures in creating jobs.
In addition, we also need to look at South African families and how the role the families play in the issue of Economic Afrophobia. Looking back at the struggle and what black South Africans went through, most of the present youths did not grow in households where their parents or older relatives were entrepreneurs. So the first level of socialization already places them at a disadvantage where they are not exposed to the knowledge and the confidence that they can create their own businesses. So, the idea of creating their own businesses becomes foreign to many of them even when funding and business support structures are provided.
An idol mind is the devil’s workshop. I strongly believe that one way to start dealing with the Economic Afrophobic problem on ground in South Africa is to seriously create programs that will help South African youths develop entrepreneurial skills.
Otherwise, the revolt against foreign business owners who they perceive to be wealthy and living better than them in their country will continue.
In conclusion, there is a proverb in Igbo which I will write in English. It says if a child fetches more fire wood than his mates his mates will accuse him of fetching his from the evil forest.
Cosmos is a seasoned Enterpreneur living in Cape Town with a global business network and businesses in South Africa.