Why do South Africans hate other Africans

Africa's anger over xenophobia in South Africa

Looted shops, burning cars, five dead and 189 arrests - an angry mob attacked shops owned by African migrants in South Africa's economic metropolis Johannesburg on Monday. The scenes horrified all of Africa. In a video address, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa said attacks on companies run by foreigners were totally unacceptable. "I want it to stop right away," said Ramaphosa. There is no justification for the violence. However, the South African government stresses that xenophobia is the work of criminals - xenophobia does not matter.

Immigrants from neighboring countries such as Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have repeatedly been the target of attacks in the past. Part of the population blames them for the difficult living conditions in South Africa. "Unemployment has currently reached a dangerous level," reports DW correspondent Izak Khomo. "Unemployed people in other African countries can count on the support of their relatives in rural areas. That is not the case here in South Africa. You have no other means of survival." According to official information, the unemployment rate is over 30 percent, according to informal estimates even higher.

Numerous shops were burned down

South Africa is also an important destination for economic migrants from Nigeria. Like the presidents of Zambia and Rwanda, Nigeia's vice-president Yemi Osinbajo canceled his participation in the World Economic Forum's Africa meeting because of the wave of violence. He also called back his ambassador from Pretoria.

Violence on the streets of Lagos

For some Nigerians, that's not enough. An angry crowd took to the streets of the economic metropolis of Lagos on Tuesday. She threw stones and attacked South African companies - including three branches of the mobile phone giant MTN and a shopping center belonging to the Shoprite group. "We learned that Nigerians are being killed in South Africa and people's property is being set on fire," protester Terence Chukwu told DW. "We came here when the whole incident started. The police were trying to protect the property of the people who killed us. The Nigerian government is trying to protect the lives and property of these people while our people are dying every day."

Protester Benedict Anyim feels that South Africa is not taking him seriously: "We are protesting because of what the South African government is doing to the Nigerians. We are not happy about it because we are good citizens and we work with them. They own Shoprite, MTN and GOTV. We're tired and sick of everything that's happening. "

Nigeria's police prevented attacks on a branch of the South African retail group Shoprite

Mayowa Adebola, a young man from Lagos, recalled the support South Africa received from Nigeria during the apartheid period: "I remember reading Nelson Mandela's autobiography 'The Long Road to Freedom'. He praised Nigeria for him during the apartheid era like a big brother, "he told DW. Many young black South Africans came to Nigeria to study at the time. The grants awarded by the Nigerian government enabled them to attend some of the best schools in the country.

Strained relationships

Not only in Nigeria is indignation and helplessness growing in the face of the worsening situation. The listeners of DW's Swahili program are also stunned: "The South Africans forgot that we helped them fight apartheid. Today they discriminate against their own brothers," says Mnase Ndosi from Arusha. "South Africa, what you are doing is wrong. How would you feel if we were hunting your brothers who live in our country? We are all Africans," says Emmanuel John Machungwa. Another listener called for sanctions against South Africa.

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has canceled a trip to South Africa

The chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki, also condemned the violence. At the same time he was encouraged "by arrests that have already been made by the South African authorities." Zimbabwe government spokesman Nick Mangwana called on the South African government to protect immigrants. At the same time he warned his countrymen: "If you go to a place where there are criminals, you have to be careful, sensible and responsible." Zambia's State Secretary for Information, Chanda Kasolo, called the events "unfortunate and barbaric". The South African authorities should "take responsibility for the situation."

A common solution?

Zambia's football association canceled a planned friendly game against South Africa next weekend. Nigerian musicians and superstars like Tiwa Savage have vowed not to perform in South Africa.

Many Nigerians accuse South Africa of forgetting about support during the apartheid era

South Africa's Labor Minister Thulas Nxesi has invited government officials from the home countries of the victims of violence to help his country solve the problem. "It is not an easy thing. It is a very complex matter. And we hope that we will find a solution in dialogue with our colleagues," he said.

The political scientist Trust Matsilele from the "Cape Peninsula University of Technology" in Cape Town describes the behavior of the government as inconsiderate: "These attacks have been going on for years and the government has not managed to address the problem politically," he told DW . Now South Africa, also known as the rainbow nation because of its diversity, would show its true colors. "The Rainbow Nation should be a country where everyone should be able to identify themselves as part of the community." But now it is obvious that this is still a long way from being the case.

Collaboration: Daniel Gakuba, Abu-Bakarr Jalloh, Thuso Khumalo, Christina Krippahl, Privilege Musvanhiri, Sam Olukoya