Xenophobic Attacks: Activist Cancels Speaking Engagement in SA

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Bennett Oghifo 

Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey, has cancelled a speaking engagement in Cape Town, South Africa in solidarity with victims of the ongoing xenophobic attacks on Nigerians.

The renown environmental activist was to speak at an important conference tagged Financing the Future, which was scheduled to hold from September 10-11 in Cape Town.

Bassey, who was invited as a speaker and as one of the Global Ambassadors, in a statement, noted that having watched the spate of hate and xenophobia being played out on the streets of South Africa, he was deeply disappointed that political leaders could allow things to degenerate to the level that was being displayed.

“The hate and the resultant violence against “others” reminds us of the dark apartheid days and appears to underscore the deep disruptions that swirl under the surface of a deeply unequal society,” he added.

Bassey had agreed to attend the conference, had obtained a visa and received the international air ticket for his participation but had to cancel the appointment as a mark of honour to the victims of the mindless violence to other Africans living in South Africa.

The activist posited that the violence against Nigerians in South Africa should agitate the entire continent, and that the African Union (AU) should urgently step up and play a role in realigning the mindsets of all Africans, irrespective of colour or location.

He added that “it is time for our government to draw the line and demand that leaders in South Africa should make efforts to improve the lives of their people and get the nation to work rather than indulge in banditry and shedding of innocent blood.”

While he condemned the horrible attacks, and remembers the radical role Nigeria played in fighting against the apartheid regime in South Africa, Bassey admonished that Nigerians at home should not vent their anger and frustration on South African businesses in Nigeria, stating that two wrongs never make a right.

He called on the presidents of Nigeria and South Africa to take a hard look at their countries; to step up in the defence of citizens’ right to life no matter where they lived.