A recent VOA commentary reminds us of the unfortunate incidences of xenophobia against Nigerians in South Africa. But can the Nigerian Super Eagles help heal the wounds? Perhaps a strong performance by the Nigerian team can help unite Nigerians and South Africans…#CP-Africa.com condemns Xenophobia
(VOA Reports…) – Jason Osuafor makes his living in Hillbrow. Here, the Lagos-born property developer rescues buildings that are “falling to the ground” and “gives them dignity.”
Jason Osuafor, the president of the Nigerian Union in South Africa, says Super Eagles fans are set to make a big impression at the World Cup
“Of course, I need to make a profit, but that’s not my only motive,” Osuafor tells VOA in the tumbledown backyard of one of the apartment blocks he’s renovating. “I don’t want my people to live in dirt. They may be poor, but I want them to be decent.”
His drive to better the lives of Nigerians living in Hillbrow is part of his mission, as president of the Nigerian Union of South Africa, to improve his compatriots’ terrible reputation here.
“In South Africa the word ‘Nigerian’ has become a synonym for the word, ‘criminal’ and it’s so unfair … [because] we [Nigerians] also abhor [crime]; we hate it; we are scared of it!” Osuafor declares.
He says most of the “official” 50,000 Nigerians residing in South Africa are “law-abiding” informal traders and unemployed … But also medical doctors, university professors, engineers and business professionals, like him.
Osuafor maintains that South Africa’s Nigerian community – first established almost two decades ago – deserves its place among its host nation’s diverse population.
“These people, most of them are now here to stay, joining the beautiful configuration of South Africans – whites, Indians, the Chinese, the Zulus, the Xhosas and all (other ethnic groups), to make it happen in Africa,” he says.
However, Nigerians continue to be arrested for crimes – especially drug trafficking and dealing – in South Africa.
“The percentage of Nigerians that commit crime is a very little percentage. I’m not excusing our people who commit crime, though,” Osuafor insists.
Super Eagles are Nigeria’s great hope
The entrepreneur welcomes the World Cup – which will kick off in Johannesburg on June 11th – as a “chance for Nigerians here to forget about all their fearsome problems.”
The Super Eagles, as Nigeria’s soccer team is known, are one of Africa’s great hopes at the tournament. Osuafor says Hillbrow will become a “little Lagos; a carnival,” for the month-long duration of the football spectacular.
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