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If Mandela Was Alive, Xenophobia Would Have Been Buried By Nigeria’s Damilola Adeyera

I was still young and naive when his name kept ringing in the consciousness of my mind. My parents sent me to school for one major reason, to get knowledge, even though the society is now changing the narrative. The same way my beautiful parents sent me to the four walls of learning, it was in that same frame young Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was sent to school.

Upon arrival at the feet of his masters, Mandela devoted himself so deeply in his quest for knowledge and he was immediately spotted by one of his tutors, Miss. Mdingane who named Mandela the very same way a beautiful teacher of mine, ‘Aunty Bola’, named me ‘Omoluabi’ back in primary school.

To me, the life of Mandela was one centred around changing the cruel life humans lived to that more suitable for the society. Calling Mandela a selfless man would be an understatement.

I need not school anyone about how Mandela wrestled for the freedom of not just his people but that of Africans. I need not take anyone down memory lane on how he spent 27 years in solitary confinement in Robben Island, Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Vertster Prison. I need not bore you with details of how he lost things precious to his soul just to complete the reason behind his sojourn on earth. However, I must make Africans understand that the dues paid by Mandela and other great African heroes must not be frittered away with an ignorant hand of the left.

Since the end of the Apartheid, South Africa has not just grown but has also witnessed a great surge in the number of foreigners entering its cities to relive historic moments and most probably stay behind to invest. South Africa, and indeed South Africans, have a lot to gain from the influx of immigrants and tourists into the country.

At this junction, permit this writer to digress a little. Growing up, my late royal grandmother coloured my imagination with fertile folklores I can never forget. She would say to me, “A long time ago, there lived a young farmer who was successfull not just for his bountiful harvest but was revered for his complete understanding of the art of farming. Inspite of all his achievement his emotions were beclouded with sadness.”

Why? His beautiful wife failed to bear offspring. As expected, tongues in town began to allege that he had offered his wife’s ovaries to the gods in exchange for the success he recorded at his farm. Some even went as far as forgetting his wife’s name and naming her ‘Agan’ (a Yoruba word used to describe a barren woman). In fact, she was only called by her real name by her farmer husband.

Like a woman in her prime, she began to seek ways to find solutions to her little problem. Unable to get any, she suggested to her husband that he takes a second wife. For the love and happiness of his wife, the farmer agreed to take a new wife. Within a year, the new wife delivered twins, the farmer’s output doubled and everyone was happy, including the barren wife. A year later, the barren wife put to bed and the sweet story began to turn sour. On the inside of her, she began to brew hatred for both the second wife and her child.”

Now, take your mind away from the fiction I just painted in your heads. It was just by the way side and it has nothing to do with the reason we are here.

In 2018 alone, it has been reported that not less than 118 Nigerians have been victims of xenophobic attacks even though I refuse to accept the notion that Nigerians are the only ones affected. Each time I hear about these attacks, one question comes to mind: could this have happened if Mandela was alive ? If all that Mandela stands for is placed side by side this question, then yes, I believe xenophobia, the devil in South Africa, would have been buried alive.

Mandela did not just fight for the freedom of his people but also ensured that both blacks and white co-habited in a serene environment where the tenets of love for the other man was placed above all. I remember my Government teacher’s lessons about how Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe and other Nigerian elite reached out to Mandela during the struggle for Nigerian Independence. I’ve read on how Mandela left the comfort of his home to broker peace during the Burundian Civil war.

Mandela was not just a man of peace, he was peace; he was love. He was the poster boy for African democracy. Point of correction, he is still poster boy for African democracy, as those after him have held on to power the way a young man who just tasted the slippery valleys of a lady holds himself from hitting climax in order not to be described as a “one-hit wonder”.

The values Mandela preached is useless if South Africans cannot learn to peacefully co-exist with their fellow African brothers. If Mandela was alive, this devil in South Africa would have been buried a long time ago. After all, Mandela once said: “Peace is the greatest weapon for development that any person can have.”

Long Live Mandela’s legacy. Long live Africa. Long live you and me.

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