Xenophobia: Returnee share stories of tears, sorrow and trauma

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In separate interviews with Nigerian returnees from South Africa, no thanks to the xenophobic attacks in the late Nelson Mandela’s country, some of them tell spectrumtimes.com.ng that though they returned empty-handed having lost all their means of livelihood in that country,

they are excited to return to Nigeria  Xenophobes killed my brother –Johnson

What is your name?  My name is Kayode Johnson.  Where are you from?  I am a Yoruba man from Osun State.  What were you doing in South Africa?  Actually, I am a stylist.  Why did you choose to return to Nigeria?

I returned because the problem had assumed a dangerous proportion. I could no longer bear it. From the moment I arrived in South Africa, I faced war. I went there in 2012.

What can you boast of achieving since you got to the country?  Actually, I made money but everything I made has been lost in the attacks. They set my shop and house ablaze and everything I had there was gone.Right now, I have nothing with me. I am hoping that everything will be fine again.

I lost up to R200,000 (approximately N5m).  What advice do you have for Nigerians that are still there?  I will advise them to return home; there is nothing like home.  Why did they choose to attack Nigerians basically?  It is just because of envy. They envy Nigerians. Those South African youths are very lazy. You know Nigerians are very hard-working and we know how to ‘hustle’ (labour for money). When they see that you have bought a car, they will think you are probably selling drugs, so that is their thinking.

I lost up to R200,000 (approximately N5m).  What advice do you have for Nigerians that are still there?  I will advise them to return home; there is nothing like home.  Why did they choose to attack Nigerians basically?  It is just because of envy. They envy Nigerians. Those South African youths are very lazy. You know Nigerians are very hard-working and we know how to ‘hustle’ (labour for money). When they see that you have bought a car, they will think you are probably selling drugs, so that is their thinking.

What business are you planning to do in Nigeria now?  I want to start again and continue with my life.  If you were given an opportunity to travel to any other country apart from South Africa, would you like to go?  I am not thinking about travelling now. Right now, I want to stay in Nigeria. I will start my life here again. I know I am going to make it. I can make it in Nigeria

So, why did you leave Nigeria in the first instance?  Actually, Nigerians like travelling. We believe that if you go out, you will make it. But I can see that there is potential in Nigeria. Most of us were wrongly advised before we travelled but such is life. If I see someone travelling, I will not discourage such a person but they should try to go to Europe or other countries in the western world. If at all I want to travel again, I will go to the western world.

They threatened to kill our children in school –Uzomba, Congolese married to Nigerian What is your name?  My name is Mrs Roseth Uzomba.  What was your experience like in S’Africa?  It was horrible. The violence I experienced there can never be blotted out of my memory in this lifetime. Throughout the period, my kids did not go to school – they missed their exams. Everywhere was chaotic. The citizens were burning people’s things, looting foreigners’ properties and committing all manner of crimes.

What were you doing there?  I had a salon there for women and also did pedicure, manicure and other beauty treatments.  How many children do you have?  I have five children. I am married to a Nigerian man from the South-East.  Why did you stop them from going to school?  I stopped them two months ago because they were threatening foreign nationals’ kids. When they boasted before the attacks that they would kill foreigners’ kids, we had to quickly withdraw them from school because we knew that they usually carried out their threats.

What do you think is responsible for the attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners?  I believe it is just out of jealousy. Jealousy because other foreigners are hard-working, but the South African people rely on their government – they want the government to do everything for them. So, when they see other people creating jobs for themselves and making it, they become jealous.  Now that you are in Nigeria, what do you intend to do?

This is my husband’s country. I intend to start my business afresh. Anyway, my wife will decide on the next line of action coupled with government’s promises if they are kept.  If you are asked to go back again to South Africa, would you go?  Never! I will never ever go back to South Africa and I won’t allow anybody that I know to travel to that country. It is not a country to go to.  I was there for 17 years

Here such attacks been happening since those 17 years?  Yes, they have been happening; it is just that this last one is the worst. It has been happening before but not to the extent of burning people’s shops, properties, houses and their means of livelihood. This is the worst because many people were killed.  If you were to estimate how much you lost to the xenophobic attack, what would it be?