Xenophobia Started In Nigeria With The ‘Ghana Must Go’ Saga, How True Is This?


As the battle to combat violence rages on in South Africa, research is equally ongoing to determine the root causes of the violence and to find out ways of stopping such acts from ever happening again. The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) says untreated trauma (for both South Africans and foreigners) is the cause of xenophobic attacks in the country.

Mediator for the xenophobic crisis, Stan Henkeman says South Africans are wounded by their violent past, while foreigners are wounded by wars and poverty in their countries of origin. The institute held a debate on the issue in Cape Town on Tuesday. “We are a deeply traumatized people; what we have here is traumatized people causing trauma for other people and that is a recipe for absolute disaster,” says Henkeman. A community leader from the informal area of Masiphumelele, in Hout Bay, Mzuvukile Nikelo, says foreigners will not be attacked there: “We welcome our African brothers, they can come, in Masiphumelele xenophobia will be fought by the community leaders, it will not happen.”

In a more recent turn of events however, there has been reports that acts of xenophobia were first recorded in Nigeria with the ‘Ghana Must Go’ saga of 1984, and that South Africans are only trying to imitate what Nigeria did that helped them improve their economy and grow in creating employment opportunities for the younger generations.

However, Nigerians have strongly disagreed with this theory stating in strong terms that what happened in Nigeria in 1984 and what is currently happening in South Africa have no similarities at all considering the fact that the Nigerian ‘Ghana Must Go’ saga was done in a very peaceful manner where the government led by Shehu Shagari formally announced that all illegal immigrants are to leave the country within a certain specified date.

They argued further that What Shagari did was the very same thing that happens in the UK and all other European countries where illegal immigrants are deported all of the time. Why then has BBC not reported those cases of deportation as xenophobic?

A Nigerian who reacted to what BBC reported said:

“The former President Shehu Shagari flushed out thousands of illegal immigrants from the ECOWAS sub-region who had turned Nigeria into one big training camp for criminals. Ghanaians were more in number.
Nigerians did not slaughter Ghanaians on the streets the way the south Africans are doing to foreigners now. They allowed them to leave quietly.”
As Nigerians continue to condemn the acts of xenophobia in South Africa, strong opinions are being aired in negation to the fact that Nigeria sowed the seed of Xenophobia in Africa. Read some Nigerians reactions to the BBC’s article as shared on Nairaland:

Re: Xenophobia: BBC Recalls The Famous ”Ghana Must Go” Policy Of The Nigerian Govt by PassingShot:

– How is a government that officially asked foreigners to leave the country for economic benefit of her citizens the same as a people who kill foreigners for their own failure?
Had SA asked foreigners to leave the country for some economic benefits of her people, it would not be an issue.

Re: Xenophobia: BBC Recalls The Famous ”Ghana Must Go” Policy Of The Nigerian Govt by mymadam:

– No, I totally disagree with the BBC story. Reason? The 1984 fiasco was a different story in that the Nigerian Government ordered the Ghanaians out of Nigeria (for reasons best known to the authorities).In SA today, their government is feigning ignorance while their citizens slaughter their African brothers. Let Zuma come on air to order all non-South Africans out of his country in the shortest possible time. This step will be more civilized than what obtains now, IMHO. After all, SA belongs to South Africans while Nigeria is ours. Nigeria rocks!

Re: Xenophobia: BBC Recalls The Famous ”Ghana Must Go” Policy Of The Nigerian Govt by ShortBlackBoy:
– @ BBC, if it is a bad story but without the Nigerian link, then you still have some work to do.
That’s another xenophobia right there – the love BBC has for Nigeria.
Only equaled by the love Black South Africans have for their fellow Black Africans.

– Although what Buhari did was silly, Nigerians did not kill any Ghanaian.
These are 2 different things.

Koffi Bushia asked Nigerians to vacate Ghana in 1969, so its payback not xenophobia.

But a South African had just one response for them:


How is a Nigerian citizens call for the killing of fellow citizens from a particular ethnic group different from a people who kill foreigners for their own failure. As a matter of fact, the comments from Oba of lagoon and Adeniran Ariyo is worse than the king of Zulu’s call that led to xenophobic attacks in SA.

So the big question is, was BBC right in saying that Nigeria laid the foundation for what id happening in South Africa or should every country carry its cross and bear the shame alone?