Yesterday the 8th of July 2015 the Institute of African Studies University of Ibadan held a panel discussion and the Lady Bank Anthony Hall the University of Ibadan titled Xenophobia beyond the South Africa Imaginary: Tracking Xenophobia and its Trajectories in Africa. The event featured presentations from eminent academics and researchers on African thought and history. Part of those who featured at the event was Professor Adigun Agbaje, a Professor of Political Science and a former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor Isaac O. Albert of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Professors Jendele Hungbo of Northwest University, South Africa, and Remi Raji- Oyelade, Dean of the Faculty of Arts University of Ibadan among others. Here are some of the many interesting sound bites from the event.
History, has been rendered invisible in Nigeria, even the remaining history that is visible is full of many silences, it s painful that instead of learn from it, Nigerians, even highly respected personalities who should know better use it as a weapon of war.
We overlook the important forces that shape everyday life, many of the worst acts of genocide in history including the holocaust was carried out not by sociopaths, but by average people who felt it was their right to protect what belongs to them. To understand Xenophobia we should not focus on the elite, we should focus on average citizens
Prof Adigun Agbaje- Professor of Political Science, University of Ibadan
The furore raised on the March 2015 xenophobic attacks by South Africans on other African nationals, is hypocritical and an overkill as it fails to take note of other incidents similar to this that has happened in Africa prior to this particular one
Africans have always been guilty of lack of gratitude, the South Africa versus Nigeria, subtext of the March 2015 incident is just an example of nationals attacking fellow Africans who played major roles in their liberations , there have also been cases of South Sudan versus Kenya, South Sudan versus Uganda and so on.
To be able to understand how xenophobia works you need to be able to take note of the context of each particular manifestation
Prof Isaac O. Albert- Institute of African Studies University of Ibadan
There is a need to understand xenophobia, in the context of the intersection between Xenophobia, Culture and cognition and the construction of ideas
Xenophobia against the “Other” is not even always against migrants or other foreign nationals; sometimes it is even internal for example the Igbo Osu caste system.
Human beings are territorial; they guard their spaces and everything they perceive as belonging to them
Obododinma Oha- Professor of English Language University of Ibadan
The focus should be to apprehend the little actions that lead to the big upheavals like the March 2015 attacks a lot of analysts of crises and flash points tend to miss this critical point.
It is fanciful thinking to think we can totally wipe xenophobia out from Africa, but we can understand its triggers and therefore keep occurrences under control.
Believe it or not Xenophobia, like the mosquito has positive effects when the stranger fights to assimilate your culture, you fight back and you gain respect
Charles Adesina- Professor of History, University of Ibadan
The issue of xenophobia in Africa can be viewed from two theoretical frameworks and both are linked to the social production theory
1. The Marxist economic framework, in which the cause of the xenophobia is a perceived competition of the Other with the native over economic resources
2. The cultural flow perspective, where xenophobia is the fear of assimilation of the native’s culture by the immigrant
While it is easy to accuse the Republic of South Africa, across Africa, the orientation on strangers is the same, but Africans don’t want to accept that reality.
Dr Ololajulo- Dept of Archeology and Anthropology, University of Ibadan
Xenophobia- “we do not want those barbarians, yet we need them to develop”
In a recent study conducted in South Africa
75 percent of SA citizens do not want immigrants
50 percent say migrants should be deported
72 percent say migrants in SA must carry some sort of Identification
But the real question we have to ask ourselves is, if this study were to be carried out across the African continent how many other African countries will reflect these same results
Dr. N. B Danjibo- Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan
Travelling should be encouraged, not just between nations, not just between nations, but within them, it creates and understanding of other cultures and helps to combat personal xenophobia.
Conclusions of panellists