The Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of South Africa on Thursday resolved to use cultural exchanges to cement relationships among their people and end xenophobia.
The agreement was reached in Lagos at a meeting between Nigeria Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the South Africa Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.
Speaking at the event, Mohammed said that Nigeria would continue to explore culture and tourism as veritable platforms to strengthen its ties with South Africa.
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“We have always believed that culture and tourism are very effective platforms and avenues for cementing the relationship between the two countries.
“A few years back, we did actually put in motion the machinery for cultural exchanges between Nigeria and South Africa and we are still working on it.
“We believe that a lot of issues can be resolved when we bring to South Africa our very popular artistes because I am told that a few Nigerian musicians are extremely popular in South Africa and vice versa,” he said.
The minister said that in the wake of recent happenings in South Africa, such engagements and visitations at the highest level of government would inspire the citizens of both nations to continue to work harmoniously and live in peace.
After a closed-door meeting with his counterpart, Mohammed told newsmen that they resolved to strengthen ties between the two countries.
“We discussed and we have really seen that more things unite us than those that divide us.
“We have resolved at least at the level of the leadership, to ensure that the good ties between Nigeria and South Africa continue.
“We also resolved to inspire our people by example to continue to work together and live as brothers and sisters, which they have done for many years,” he said.
On her part, Kubayi-Ngubane emphasised the need for cultural exchanges between the citizens of the two countries as a deliberate policy to strengthen the bond between them.
Kubayi-Ngubane said she was in Nigeria to further demonstrate her country’s commitment to the discussions held between President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Muhammadu Buhari in South Africa, following the recent attacks on Nigerians in that country.
She said the President of South Africa had appointed former President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete and former President of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano to work with South African communities with a view to finding lasting solutions to the crisis.
The minister urged the citizens of both countries to be wary of fake news, being deliberately published to worsen the crisis.
“One of the issues that we reiterated was that we need to be careful of the fake news sometimes that exacerbates what is not real and what is not true and that does not necessarily mean that we are abdicating our responsibilities as leaders.
“Where things have happened wrong, we take responsibility as leaders.
“What we are saying, however, to our citizens in the two countries is that we need to be careful of fake news.
“We must get the real story, verify the information before we take things out of context,” she said.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Kubayi-Ngubane was accompanied by Mr. Darkey Africa, South Africa Consul-General, Lagos, Mr. Bobby Moroe, Deputy High Commissioner, South Africa High Commission, Abuja and Morongie Ramphele, a Director in charge of Tourism.
In the Nigeria team were Mr. Segun Adeyemi and Mr. Williams Adeleye both Special Assistants to the President attached to the office of the Minister and Mrs. Fkirence Sowunmi, Director International Tourism, Promotion and Cooperation in the ministry.