By Eric Teniola

Xenophobia

IT’S sad, very sad but we must admit that xenophobia is still subsisting in today’s world.

Xenophobia did not start in South Africa and will not end there. Nigeria, now a victim, has aggressively indulged in xenophobia before. The worsening economic situation in most countries of the world is encouraging xenophobia and there is no solution in sight. As a matter of fact it will become worse. Even within nations and within the various ethnic groups there is economic discrimination. It will become more aggressive and turn more violent later. It will happen earlier than expected. There is frustration everywhere. Everyone is under pressure in the words of Rastaman Kimono.

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In our desperation anyone can be a scapegoat – neighbours, friends, foreigners, etc. The immigration policy being pursued in the United States of America is part of xenophobia. Even the referendum of United Kingdom to quit the European Union commonly referred to as Brexit held on June 23, 2016 of which fifty-two percent were in support of leaving the union, is another form of xenophobia. Even the recent closure of our borders could be interpreted as another form of xenophobia. Imagine the way we celebrated the closure of the borders.

Economic distress leads to social unrest, breakdown of law and order and stagflation. Social unrest is generally characterized by the general dissatisfaction of a group and the unconventional and sometimes violent way people tend to show it. One example is rioting or when a large group of people behave in a violent and uncontrolled way.

According to Wikipedia, xenophobia is the fear or hatred of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. Xenophobia can involve perceptions of an in-group toward an out-group and can manifest itself in suspicion of the activities of others, and a desire to eliminate their presence to secure a presumed purity and may relate to a fear of losing national, ethnic or racial identity. Xenophobia can also be exhibited in the form of an “uncritical exaltation of another culture” in which a culture is ascribed “an unreal, stereotyped and exotic quality”.

According to UNESCO, the terms xenophobia and racism often overlap, but differ in how the latter encompasses prejudice based on physical characteristics while the former is generally centered on behaviour based on the notion of a specified people being adverse to the culture or nation. In other words, xenophobia arises when people feel that their rights to benefit from the government is being subverted by other people’s rights.

An early example of xenophobic sentiment in Western culture is the Ancient Greek denigration of foreigners as “barbarians”, the belief that the Greek people and culture were superior to all others, and the subsequent conclusion that barbarians were naturally meant to be enslaved. Ancient Romans also held notions of superiority over all other peoples, such as in a speech attributed to Manius Acilius, “There, as you know, there were Macedonians and Thracians and Illyrians, all most warlike nations, here Syrians and Asiatic Greeks, the most worthless peoples among mankind and born for slavery.”

Despite the majority of the country’s population being of mixed (Pardo), African, or indigenous heritage, depictions of non-European Brazilians on the programming of most national television networks is scarce and typically relegated for musicians/their shows. In the case of telenovelas, Brazilians of darker skin tone are typically depicted as housekeepers or in positions of lower socioeconomic standing.

In short xenophobia is fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners. Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia (1913-1978) was Prime Minister of Ghana from 1969 to 1972. As a nationalist leader and Prime Minister, he helped to restore civilian government to the country following military rule. In 1969, he invoked the Aliens Compliance Order and deported an estimated 2.5-million undocumented African migrants, the majority of whom were Nigerians.

Before then the Nigerians had grown annoyingly enterprising, their business acumen sharper, to the detriment of Ghanaian businesses. It was this order that forced my late friend, Dr. Wale Oloyede, the former deputy comptroller general of prisons from Ghana to Nigeria. Mr. Layi Alabi, former managing director of Intercontinental Bank was also affected.

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.