SOUTH African-born wives of Nigerians living in South Africa are set for a major nationwide protest against their increasing stigmatisation by their fellow countrymen and women.
According to the Chairperson of the United Nigerian Wives in South Africa (UNWISA), Mrs Lindale Uche, fellow South Africans discriminate against them, their spouses and children.
Uche said children of such marriages are called derogatory names and made to feel like outcasts, aliens and unwelcome. The women had protested earlier in March this year, but nothing came of it, hence their decision to form an association and fight together.
This is yet another indication that little is being done, especially by the South African authorities, to create a conducive atmosphere for Nigerians to lawfully live fulfilled life. The hostility that Nigerians suffer at the hands of South Africans was topped in March last year when 56 Nigerian travellers to South Africa were deported from the Johannesburg International Airport over alleged possession of fake yellow vaccine papers.
Nigeria swiftly retaliated by bundling 78 South African visitors to Nigeria back to their country.
Diplomatic steps were taken to mend fences. However, the unwelcoming atmosphere continues to fester in a country Nigeria invested enormous human and material resources and efforts to end its apartheid policy.
The freedom, peace and prosperity South Africa enjoys today owes chiefly to the leadership and sacrifices of Nigerians. No other country on the continent, or indeed, in the world should have a bigger place of pride or be more welcome than Nigeria.
It would seem that little effort was made by the South African leadership to reflect the true pillars of the anti-apartheid struggle beyond the efforts of local South African politicians and activists. If they did, Nigerians would be held in high regard and be happily accommodated in South Africa.
It is high time that the Federal Government took firm measures to force a change of attitude towards Nigerians, their families and sundry interests who have legitimate presence in South Africa. The country stands to lose more than Nigeria if matters should come to a head.
South African businesses are thriving in Nigeria, and not a single case of molestation of South Africans living in Nigeria has been reported. Nigeria is a very friendly country which welcomes foreigners with warmth that is uniquely Nigerian.
In our cultures, guests are accorded more comfort than kin.
Nigerians and South Africans should be brothers working together for their mutual benefit. The onus is on South Africa to reciprocate the great hand of fellowship which Nigeria has extended to her from her days of need to date. Nigerians did not fight apartheid to become its new victims.