I strongly feel that the country should prioritize these issues of xenophobia because the fact that it has died down “for now” it does not mean that it is over. A lot of blame has been put on the Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini for his utterances that “all the foreigners must pack their bags and leave South Africa”. I feel he should have addressed it differently.
This issue is not a South African issue but an African one. If you follow African Politics and history you will remember that in 1957, after Ghana gained independence, many Nigerians began migrating to Ghana. Kwame Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party (CPP) had maintained a liberal immigration policy because of his pan-Africanist ideology and his desire for Ghana to be in the forefront of African unity. For example, in the 1960 census, immigrants particularly Nigerians made up 12 percent of the Ghanaian population of 8.4 million people. The relationship became sour when the influx of immigrants began to shift the demographics of the country, which made people unhappy. The most widespread reason for discontent was economic competition and, also, some Ghanaians blamed immigrants for a wave of crime that occurred in the late 1960s. Thus, under former Ghanaian president Kofi Busia’s Aliens Compliance Order of 1969, Nigerians and other immigrants were forced to leave Ghana. The order required that all foreigners in the country must be in possession of residence permit if they did not already have it or to obtain it within a two-week period. Kofi Busia expelled 20,000 to 500,000 Nigerians in a time period of 14 days to 3 months. The order angered some West African governments, especially Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Mali, Niger, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso whose citizens were mostly affected by the expulsion. The 1969 Order also affected Ghana’s image in mainland Africa and the rest of the world. In 1983, the Nigerian government expelled 2 million Africans out of Nigeria. Ghana was facing severe drought and economic problems, so many Ghanaians were welcomed in the 1970s by Nigeria, which was in the midst of an oil boom and in need of cheap labor.
In early 1983, as the oil boom faded and Nigerians needed a group to blame for their economic and social woes, the government enacted the Expulsion Order and up to 700,000 Ghanaians were expelled from Nigeria. When the Ghanaians were leaving Nigeria, most of them hurriedly packed their belongings in a big silk bag with red and blue stripes. The Nigerians, either by affection or ridicule, began to call this bag “Ghana must go”. This name gained a fast currency in Ghana and up until today, that bag is still identified by that name.
Another xenophobic spot in the sub-region is Guinea. Guineans are known for their solidarity against foreigners notably Liberians and Sierra Leoneans who fled to Conakry after the breakout of war in their countries. In Cote D’Ivoire, Burkinabe immigrants have come under increasing attacks from locals. For years, The Gambian authorities have maintained straight regimes against encouraging Liberian refugees into the country.
So as much as these recent xenophobic attacks are attributed to the Zulu king Zwelithini, he in fact kindled something that was there for a very long time. I only think he should have been wise enough and addressed the right people ( the government in this case). I love you South Africa.