AFRICANITY AND THE POLITICS OF AFRICAN
XENOPHOBIA: A STUDY OF TWO PARALLELS
1 Department of Political Science, Osun State University, Nigeria,
Phone: +2347015833812, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
How to cite: AKINRINDE, O. (2020). “Africanity and the Politics of
African Xenophobia: A Study of Two Parallels.” Annals of Spiru Haret
University. Economic Series, 20(4), 133-151, doi: https://doi.org/10.26458/2047
The search for sustainable home-made solutions to both internal and
external challenges especially the colonialist and neocolonialist epistemologies
as well as the Eurocentric construction of African history that Africa is faced
with has, in part, led to the call and coining of the concept of Africanity. While
this call has, on several occasions, been racially discredited by the West, it has
now assumed a pivotal space in Africa’s developmental agenda. Again, while
efforts geared towards the re-awakening of the consciousness and belief in the
African Indigenous system and its capacity to spearhead the much desired goal
of Africa’s development continue to be intensified, the recent manifestations of
the xenophobic attitudes in Africa now negates the spirit of Africanity and the
goal of a united Africa, consequently posing a major hindrance to Africa’s
development. Findings have however shown that the concept and propagation of
Africanity in the wake of the xenophobic experience in Africa is largely
paradoxical. It has been observed that Africans are equally neck-deep in what
this concept is set out to achieve. As a corrective response to the racist and sexist
ontology of the West, it has paradoxically failed to illuminate the true
Africanness of Africans in contemporary racist, sexist and xenophobic Africa.
Consequently, this paper concludes that the whole concept of Africanity in
contemporary Xenophobic Africa is paradoxical. It can however turn out to be a
reality only when the continent is eventually cleansed from the pathologies the
concept is set out to achieve.
Keywords: Africa; Africanity; African xenophobia; paradox; and pathologies.
JEL Classification: N4, N3
For most parts of history, Africa and its people had, for so long, been defined,
portrayed and viewed from the Eurocentric lens. Borrowing from Asante’s words
“Africa was seen as being marginal, uncivilized and one sitting on the periphery of
historical consciousness”. [Asante, 1990] European standards and values were used
to evaluate the African people and their way of life. And once a deviation from the
western way of life is noticed in Africans’ lifestyle, Africans are then perceived as
being barbaric, primitive and less civilized by the West. Over time, the western
narratives have been providing distorted versions of the African worldview and its
philosophies. Motivated partly by the need for the glorification of their homelands
and several untold economic rewards, most western writers had chosen to neglect the
truth by twisting the hands of history and constructing African history as one that’s
got no roots and incapable of lifting the faith and self-belief of the African people in
developing themselves. This challenge and several internal complications have
plagued and robbed the continent of the needed firepower to kick-start its
development goals. This has led to the search for a viable means of providing
superior evidence to counter the Eurocentric denigration and downplaying of African
worldview, history and philosophies. However, the search for sustainable home-made
solutions to both internal and external challenges, especially the colonialist and
neocolonialist epistemologies as well as the Eurocentric construction of African
history that Africa is faced with has, in part, led to the call and coining of the concept
of Africanity which was first conceived by one of the Afrocentric greats, Alli
Muzrah, to correct the racist, xenophobic, and the sexist ontologies and
epistemologies of the West in Africa.
Paradoxically, Africanity, as a vision, is now being triggered and championed in
an environment and by people that are highly xenophobic, racist, sexist and
sentimental. It has however become nothing other than a paradox to see both
Africanity and xenophobia being championed in the same environment, though
from differing set of persons. It is now observed that so many Africans are equally
neck-deep in what this xenophobia and racism concept is set out to achieve. And as
result, despite being a corrective response to the racist and sexist ontology of the
West, it has paradoxically failed to illuminate the true Africanness of Africans in
contemporary racist, sexist and xenophobic Africa. In fact, there is virtually no region
within the African continent that has not played a host to xenophobia. This
intolerance is not only peculiar to the Xenophobic Attacks witnessed recently in
South Africa, it had manifested in the Ghana Must Go Saga in Nigeria in 1983. It
was also identified in the way the people from Burkina Faso who have settled in the
cocoa plantations in Côte d’Ivoire for many generations were humiliated and made
targets of racial discrimination in that respective region. While Ivoirité suddenly
became the new identity for true citizens of the country, being Mossi became
synonymous with anti-Ivoirité or non-Ivoirité. And consequently, it exposed all the
Mossi tribes to constant danger of attacks. Equally, in Northern Africa, the same
thing occurred. Libyans hardly welcome Sub-Saharan Africans. And when job
seekers from the sub-Saharan region of the continent found their way to Libya, they
suffered attacks and, many a times, they were forced to leave the country of President
Muarmuar Ghadafy and return to where they came from. These and many more cases
abound. The bigger question here is that how then can the vision of Africanity
materialize in Africa when Africans have phobia for fellow Africans? Or can Africa
give or present what it doesn’t have? This then draws us to the proposition made
earlier in this paper that unless Africa is cleansed from the internal pathologies the
concept of Africanity is meant to correct on the larger-scale in Africa, the goal and
vision of Africanity might not see the light of the day in Africa.
Understanding the Concepts of Africanity, African Xenophobia and Vision
Africanity connotes simply an ideal and a quest for unity, cooperation and justice
for Africans on the continent and diaspora. It’s an evolving orientation for more
cohesion and wholeness amongst the African peoples to suppress the continued
fragmentation, dislocation and dehumanization that was occasioned by years of
xenophobic slavery, colonialism and neo-imperialism by the West in contemporary
times. [Muzrah, 2002] It’s a rising consciousness for greater unity and African
solidarity amongst the African peoples which has equally led to the establishments of
common Pan-African Organizations such as the African Union and other regional
bodies with a view to providing a dialectic interface and connection between where
Africa is coming and its envisaged future. Since, according to Ngugi, memory is the
link between the past and present, between space and time, and the base of one’s
dream, Africanity then becomes the reservoir of memories needed in knowing and
connecting the African roots with its promising future. [Ngugi, 2009] Africanity has
also assumed a pivotal role in the developmental agenda of virtually all African
states. It has been realized that it is not only instrumental in challenging the
Eurocentric conception of African worldview but also capable of drawing the African
solidarity, oneness, wholeness, brotherliness, and togetherness needed amongst the
African peoples for the advancement of Africa’s development. It is now seen by
African states as a call and means towards achieving greater cooperation,
friendliness, harmony, tolerance and integration amongst the African peoples and
states. This suffices to imply that the onward advancement of Africa’s development is
now hinged on this concept. Africanity can thus be regarded as a state of
development. If attained, it is capable of heralding another phase of development. It
is a state of development that other spheres of development are dependent on. If
conceived as a state of unity, oneness, selflessness, harmony, togetherness, solidarity
and allegiance to the black heritage, it then goes to say that it Africanity now
connotes a means to end (which is development) and actual state of development
itself because the afore-mentioned qualities are indicators of a developed society. In
this light, this paper construes Africanity as not just a means to an end but an end in
itself. It is thus taken as a vision, and when realized it becomes an actual state of
development that is capable of heralding another sphere of development.
African Xenophobia: Whilst it might not be fallacious to aver that xenophobia
is a worldwide phenomenon, it will be too mechanistic and deterministic to suggest
that xenophobia is the same world over without considering the environmental
peculiarities of the scene where it is manifesting. It is not peculiar to Africa alone
but its causes have African peculiarities just as its causes elsewhere are peculiar to
where it is manifesting. According to Center for Human Rights (2009), xenophobia
is basically a perceived fear, hatred or dislike of a non-native or foreigner in a
particular country. Being a product of two Greek words, xenophobia is made up of
xeno and phobos which literally connotes the fear of a foreigner. [Bordeau, 2010]
So, to this end, xenophobia is taken to mean an embodiment of discriminatory
attitudes, dispositions, beliefs, actions and behavioural tendencies that usually
culminate into violent attacks on foreigners, refugees and fellow nationals. Simply
put, it is the fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers embodied in discriminatory
attitudes and behaviour which usually culminate into violence, abuses of all types,
and exhibitions of hatred. [Mogekwu, 2005] Buttressing this point, Harris (2002)
likened it to a form of dislike, hatred or fear expressed by a group of people
Importantly, however, as Harris (2002: 170) correctly emphasizes, xenophobia is
‘not just an attitude but also an action. As reflected by the South African incidents,
xenophobia invariably then entails acts and processes of violence, physical, as well
as psychological and social. Furthermore, as also reflected by these incidents, in the
South African context, xenophobia is not directed at just anyone. It is largely directed
at people especially foreigners of a divergent colour and ethnical background.
McDonald et al. (1998) competently defined xenophobia as a discreet set of beliefs
that can manifest themselves in the behaviours of governments, the general public
and the media. This suffices to imply that it’s any form of hatred or fear of foreigners
or strangers based on a discreet set of beliefs that may be expressed verbally or
manifested in the behaviours of governments, the media and the general public. A
more comprehensive and illustrative conceptualization of Xenophobia was given by
Bihr (2005:1) who asserts that it literally refers to the fear/hatred of the stranger. He
further stressed that xenophobia is “a system that is necessary for the symbolic
economy of historical societies as it enables the reconstitution of social unity by
exporting internal divisions and conflicts, hiding the internal origin of the latter – for
which exogenous figures are held solely responsible.” This therefore means that
every xenophobic attack is targeted at people other than the original occupants or
indigenes of a given community or state. Bihr (2005:1) also observed that the
stranger that is hated is one that is close, “the stranger hated by the xenophobia is not
only a neighbour, often living next to him, but also a stranger who is un-foreign as
possible so to speak, a stranger who differentiates himself as little as possible,
through his social and cultural features from the group of belonging and/or reference
of the xenophobe.” In line with the foregoing definitions of xenophobia, the concept
can be quipped to refer to a fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything
that is strange or foreign. To Blank and Bucholz (2005), “Xenophobia can also be
seen as an economic cost factor since it generates economic cost for a society.”
According to them, studies show that foreign African entrepreneurs provide new jobs
by establishing businesses or increasing the aggregate demand as a result of cross-
border trading. The foregoing assertion is in contrast to the very claim of South
Africa xenophobes that foreign immigrants in the country take their jobs. However,
Kollapan (1999) has warned that xenophobia cannot be separated from violence and
physical abuse. In this wise, a review of the notion which sees xenophobia as just an
attitude is not only necessary but imminent if a holistic and broader view of the
phenomenon is to be achieved. Xenophobia as a term must then be reframed to
incorporate practice. It is not just an attitude, it is an activity. It is not just a dislike or
fear of foreigners, it is a violent practice that results in bodily harm and damage.
More particularly, the violent practice that comprises xenophobia must be further
refined to include its specific target, because, in South Africa and elsewhere in
Africa, for example, not all foreigners are uniformly victimized. Rather, black
foreigners, particularly those from Africa, comprise the majority of victims.
Vision: In a loose sense, a Vision is often referred to as the ability to think about
or plan the future with great imagination or wisdom. It’s all about visualizing and
articulating what an institution intends achieving. It’s a dreamed or an imagined
destination and a state of fulfilment. It can also be a target or a goal. It can be
construed as an inspirational description of what an organization would like to
achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serve as a
clear guide for choosing current and future course of actions. [Business Dictionary,
2016] It’s a company’s roadmap, indicating both what the company wants to become
and guiding transformational initiatives by setting a defined direction for the
company’s growth. [Wikipedia, 2016] A vision focuses on the potentials inherent in
the company’s future, or what they intend to be. It’s basically a description of what
the company intends to become in the near future. [Your Dictionary, 2016]
Countries, international organizations, inter-governmental organizations, non-
governmental organizations and corporate bodies have been employing the utilities
of a Vision in achieving their set out goals. For instance, the Millennium
Development Goals was a global vision conceived by the United Nations and
implemented by national governments to bring about development in the eight areas
identified in vision across the world by 2015. The recent Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs) is another example of a vision with a global scope. In Nigeria, the
current Vision 2020 is a vision conceived by the Nigerian government with a view to
becoming one of the twenty largest economies in the world by year 2020.
However, a defining and ever constant attribute of all visions is that they could
either turn out to be successful or non-successful. While some visions have been
completely or partially successful in the past, some have out-rightly failed. This
then brings us to the question as to whether the Africanity vision in Africa has been
a success or a failure in the contemporary xenophobic Africa. The answer is self-
The Chronological Development and Manifestations of African Xenophobia
It may be shocking to whoever knows that the manifestations of this heinous act
date as far back as the 1960s. Its first institutional manifestation was recorded in
November, 1969, precisely forty-nine days after the assumption of Kofi Busia into
office as Ghanaian Prime minister, following the introduction of the Aliens
Compliance Order which was intended to expel undocumented aliens residing in
Ghana. Aliens that did not possess work permit were given two weeks’ ultimatum to
get it and those that couldn’t were eventually expulsed. [Gocking, 2005] Surprisingly, it
was alleged, as Aremu and Ajayi (2014: 176) put it, that foreigners were responsible for
the large-scale unemployment that had befallen Ghana at this period in time. It
however remains an irony to know that agents of foreign direct investments could
also be accused of stealing jobs.
Similarly, in 1972, the Ugandan Authorities expelled thousands of foreigners of
Asian descents due to the purported deteriorating economic conditions. [Hansen,
2000] Asians from Britain, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia were
given three-month ultimatum to leave Uganda. However, the aftermath of this
development did not yield any economic returns as the country further witnessed
more economic downturns.
The Gabon had also been a harbour and contributed indirectly to the growth of
African xenophobia. In 1978, it expelled all Beninese on the grounds that the
Beninese President at this time, Kerekou casted aspersions on President Bongo and
the people of The Gabon. [Gray, 1998] While the former had accused the latter of
masterminding a foiled mercenary coup that was intended to oust him from power.
As a response, president Bongo of the Gabon became enraged and ordered the
expulsion of 9,000 Beninese from The Gabon without examination or screening of
the Beninese’ travel documents. [Henckaerts, 1995]
A similar experience was equally recorded in Nigeria in 1983. Owing to the
purported worsening economic situations in Nigeria in the aftermath of the oil
boom witnessed in the 1970s, Nigeria had to expel more than two million
foreigners from the country. With more than a million of the expelled foreigners
being Ghanaians, Nigerian Authorities claimed that foreigners were not only
responsible for the prevailing economic woes in the country but also the prevalence
of crimes. Having realized that the expulsion was not salvaging the dying economy,
Nigeria resorted to another round of expulsion of over three hundred thousand
(300,000) Ghanaians in 1985. Surprisingly, these expulsions could not stop the
deterioration of the Nigerian economy. [Obakhedo, & Otoghile, 2011]
In a related experience, the former Ivorian President, Bedie, came up with the
idea of “Ivoirite” in the wake of declining economic situations in Cote d’Ivoire in
the 1990s so as to grant the citizens of Cote d’Ivoire unhindered access to the
limited political and economic resources at the expense of the foreigners. Migrants
from Burkina Faso who have settled in the cocoa plantations in Côte d’Ivoire for
many generations became victims of humiliation and racial discrimination in Côte
d’Ivoire. While Ivoirité suddenly became the new identity for true citizens of the
country, being Mossi became synonymous with anti-Ivoirité or non-Ivoirité. And
consequently, it exposed all the Mossi tribes to constant danger of attacks in Cote
d’Ivoire. This eventually led to the expulsion of between 8,000 and 12,000
Burkinabe farmers from Cote d’Ivoire following a purported schism between the
Ivoirians and the Burkinabe farmers in 1999. [Human Rights Watch, 2001]
In Equatorial Guinea, it was alleged that there was an attempted coup by foreign
mercenary against the president. This however spurred a clampdown on foreigners
residing in the country whilst Equatorial Guineans who did not belong to security
apparatus were ordered along with the conventional security apparatus to arrest
those suspected to be illegal foreigners. [Human Rights Watch, 2009] An estimate
of about one thousand (1,000) foreigners ended up being expelled from the country.
[Human Rights Watch, 2009] Coupled with this, by 2007, the Government of
Equatorial Guinea had also banned West African Nationals from owning grocery
stores in the country. In cases of violation, those stores were either taken over by
the Government or shut down. [IRIN News, 2008]
In 2004, the Angolan Government expelled an estimated hundred thousand
(100,000) Congolese from Angola on the pretext that the Congolese were stealing
natural resources that naturally belonged to the Angolan people. Buttressing this fact,
Adebajo (2011: 91) informed that over one hundred and sixty thousand Congolese
were expelled from Angola between December 2008 and December 2009.
As a retaliatory measure, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government
expelled fifty thousand (50,000) Angolans in 2009 following a popular demand for
a reprisal to the inhumane treatment meted out by the Angolan government to
Congolese residing in Angola. [Human Rights Watch, 2012]
On the same note, Burundian Authorities expelled almost one thousand two
hundred (1,200) foreigners from Burundi on the pretext that a routine of this nature
was imminent so as to address high crime rate in the country. [Human Rights Watch,
Furthermore, in a related development, Tanzania’s government expelled close to
eleven thousand (11,000) undocumented foreigners with a view to flush out the
purported criminal elements in Tanzania. [Ghosh, 2013] This was purportedly
informed by the prevalence of armed robbery, bus attacks and hijacking attributed to
foreigners in the Kagera axis of Tanzania, and the need to make dividends of
governance accessible by the citizens. [Naluyaga, 2013]
The incessant terrorist attacks from the Somali al-Shabaab group in Kenya have
purportedly aroused anti-Somali sentiments amongst Kenyans. Following the 2013
Westgate terrorist attack, the Kenyan government initiated the ‘Operation Usalama
Watch’ to serve as a counter-terrorist measure. This operation eventually resulted in
the arrest of four thousand (4,000) Somalis. Every time the Kenyan government has
tried to combat terrorism, it has been found that the Somali community in Kenya has
always been targeted. [Buchana-Clarke, & Lekalake, 2015]
Further, Congo Brazzaville, in 2014, initiated Operation Mbalayabakolo (meaning
‘Slap of the elders’) with a view to, as purported, flush criminal elements out of the
country. [Reuters, 2015] This singular operation eventually led to the expulsion of
over fifty thousand (50,000) citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo. [Reuters,
Following the suicide bomb attacks in N’Djamena, Chad, in June 2015, by
elements of the BokoHaram Terrorist Network, the Chadian government, in a
responsive and precautionary measure, expelled close to three hundred (300)
Cameroonians [Ernest, 2015] and over two thousand (2,000) Nigerians [Telegraph,
2015] in a bid to flush out undocumented foreigners that were, as purported,
perpetrating terrorist and criminal acts in the country.
Xenophobic attacks were first witnessed in South Africa in 1994 when three
immigrants of African descents, i.e. two from Senegal and one from Mozambique,
were brutally killed in a train, after they have been accused of stealing jobs by
South Africans (The Eastern Province Herald of 4th September 1998 quoted by
Similarly, in 1996, a crowd of approximately one thousand South African
inhabitants of an informal housing settlement attempted to drive all foreign nationals
out of the settlement. Two foreign nationals as well as two South Africans were killed
in the ensuing violence. [Hill, & Lefko-Everett, 2008] In 1997, South African
informal traders in Johannesburg launched a spate of violent attacks over a 48-hour
period against foreign national informal traders. The attacks were accompanied by
widespread looting. In 1998, six South African police officers were filmed setting
attack dogs loose on three Mozambican migrants while hurling racist and xenophobic
invectives at them. [Hill, & Lefko-Everett, 2008] More so, in 1999, it was reported
that six foreign nationals accused of alleged criminal activity were abducted by a
group of South Africans in Ivory Park, a township on the outskirts of Johannesburg.
One of the six managed to escape from the mob’s clutches, three others were
seriously injured and two were reportedly killed by means of the notorious ‘neck-
lacing’ method. [Hill, & Lefko-Everett, 2008] In 2000, two Mozambican farm
workers were assaulted by a vigilante group after they were accused of stealing. One
of the workers subsequently died directly as a result of the attack. In 2001, residents
of Zandspruit, an informal settlement in Johannesburg, set fire to the houses of
hundreds of Zimbabwean migrants forcing them to flee the settlement. In 2006,
several Somali shop owners were reported to have been forced to flee a township
outside Knysna in the Western Cape Province, as a result of violent intimidation. In
2007, more than 100 shops owned by Somali nationals in the Motherwell area in the
Eastern Cape Province were looted during a series of attacks on African refugees
over a 24-hour period. [Hill, & Lefko-Everett, 2008]
More recently, in May 2008, South Africa was hit by another wave of violent
attacks against foreigners from the majority of the world. These xenophobic attacks
resulted in the death of more than 70 persons, many injured and displacement of
approximately 120,000 people, all of them people of colour and most of them poor.
On the evening of 11th of May 2008, in Diepsloot, a township in the north of
Johannesburg, in the Gauteng province of South Africa, a Mozambican migrant,
Ernesto AlfabetoNhamuavhe, was torched alive while a group of South Africans
stood by laughing as he burnt to death. [Worby et al., 2008] In the public memory, it
was this cruel and gruesome event, more than any other, which marked the unfurling
of a frightening wave of xenophobic violence that was to engulf the South African
landscape for several weeks thereafter. [Peberdy, 2009]
When, by June 2008, South Africans took stock of the horrendous excesses
committed in their name during the preceding months, it was reported that 120,000
people had been displaced, 670 had been injured, 70 had been murdered and
countless women had been raped. [Matsopoulos et al., 2009; Peberdy, 2009] In 2005,
a new wave of xenophobic attacks was incited by the Zulu King resulting in the
death of a South African teenager and seven other persons with loss of properties and
displacement of thousands of foreigners. [Essa, 2015]
Most contemporary of all these xenophobic attacks is the attacks on foreigners in
April, 2016, in Zingalume and Chunga, Zambia, over the allegations that foreigners
were using Zambians for rituals in exchange for economic and business prosperities.
Shops belonging to foreigners were looted while identified foreigners were descended
on at sight. The xenophobic riot followed the discovery of a mutilated body in
Zingalume, Zambia on the 16th April, 2016. However, the Zambian Police was quick
in arresting the event before degenerating into a nation-wide catastrophe. [Financial
Watch News, 2016]
The Rise and Causes of African Xenophobia: A Theoretical Discourse
Multiple factors that are believed to have contributed in one way or other to the
rise and manifestation of African xenophobia are, albeit hypothetically, considered to
be diverse. These factors, ranging from citizenship/identity crisis, to poor immi-
gration policy, and media effects, as well as leadership failure on the part of the
government to deliver the dividends of governance to its people and general state of
dwindling economic conditions, are believed to have accounted for this pathology.
While this study recognizes the plethora of insightful explanations provided by
the Isolation thesis and the Relative Deprivation thesis [May et al., 2000; Pillay,
2008] as well as Bronwyn Harris’s scapegoating hypothesis (2002) as to the root
causes of the xenophobic attitudes and attacks in Africa in general, it finds
Nieftagodien’s Endemic poverty Explanation (2008) and John Dollard and Neal
Miller’s Frustration-Aggression theory (1939) more relevant and appropriate to this
discourse as they capture the very underlying nitty-gritty and the prima facie of the
The Relative Deprivation theory cannot be relied upon in providing a convincing
explanation on African xenophobia because it doesn’t account for why foreigners of
colour and particularly African foreigners are the ones who bear the brunt of this
anger and resentment. Although, it provides a glimpse of insights as to why there are
feelings of hostility from Africans towards foreigners by locating it in the perceptions
of being deprived of basic privileges because of others. The South African, Ghanaian
and Nigerian cases provide an insight as to how deprived citizens could resort to
xenophobic attacks in expressing their plights. As May et al. (2000) and Pillay
(2008) put it, “inequalities in income have become increasingly pronounced amongst
blacks since 1994, and that they rank amongst the highest in the world”. While the
poor are becoming increasingly poorer, the new political elites in Africa are
becoming richer at the expense of the poor. And in the face of this naked display of
self-enrichment on the part of the new political and corporate elites, the responses of
the marginalized, the unemployed and the working poor to their apparently
unchanging plight have turned out to be violent xenophobia. And in a continent, in
which xenophobic discourses are encouraged and reproduced by the ruling elites to
score cheap political points from their opponents, this anger and resentment are
inevitably directed at foreigners and they are being scapegoated for crimes they know
nothing about. Moreover, migrants are infinitely easier targets than the new political
and corporate elites who typically construct themselves as the allies and champions
of the poor in Africa, whereas, it is not so.
Worthy of noting here, as earlier informed, is Bronwyn Harris’s scapegoating
hypothesis (2002) which argues that xenophobia occurs when indigenous populations
turn their anger, resulting from whatever hardships they are experiencing, against
‘foreigners’, primarily because foreigners are constructed as being the cause of all
their difficulties and predicaments. However, like other theories, the traditional
criticism directed at the scapegoating hypothesis, of course, is that it does not explain
why foreigners are the group that is burdened with the hatred and abuse of
autochthonous groups instead of the political class that are constantly milking and
cashing out on the poor populace in Africa. More specifically, it does not explain
why foreigners of colour in the context of contemporary South Africa invariably bear
the brunt of the prejudicial and murderous hatred of the local population instead of
the high-profile corrupt politicians so to say.
Now, at this instance, it’s imperative to consider Nieftagodien’s Endemic Poverty
Explanation (2008) on the rise of African xenophobia. In his study, Nieftagodien
discovered that xenophobia is bound to find fertile ground in areas where there is
poverty or worsening economic conditions. For instance, in the case of Ghana,
Nigeria, Angola, Uganda, South Africa, and to a lesser extent, Cote d’Ivoire, The
Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, xenophobic reactions and attacks were largely spurred
by economic considerations. [Akinrinde, 2018] Although, in some instances like
Tanzania, Burundi and Congo Brazzaville, xenophobic reactions were considered as
a product of the need to curb crimes in these countries. In other instances, it can be
seen as object of political consideration like the expulsion of Angola from Congo
Kinshasa. By and large, the majority of instances of xenophobic attacks that had been
witnessed so far in Africa were largely spurred by economic factor. This equally
explains the manifestation and the first triggering of the xenophobic attacks in May,
2008 in Alexandra, a town that is considered relatively poorer than many other towns
in South Africa. According to Nieftagodien (2008), Alexandra, where the xenophobic
attacks of May 2008, took place in South Africa, for instance, is a township area
characterized by desperate and brutalizing poverty. Specifically, Alexandra is a
township area where the overwhelming majority of a population of 350,000 people
live in makeshift shacks that are crammed into a mere 2 km2; with an unemployment
rate of approximately 30 per cent; and where 20 per cent of households subsist on a
paltry monthly income of ZAR 1,000 (i.e. approximately $128) or less.
It is, however, worth mentioning here that there are places in the world where
people are as poor as or poorer than the inhabitants of Alexandra, where xenophobia
has manifested. Yet these places have not witnessed the extremely high levels of
xenophobia seen in Africa, especially in Alexandra and similar townships in May
2008. This, of course, alerts us to the probability that endemic poverty or the
economic factor on its own cannot account for the African xenophobia and violence.
Another theoretical explanation worth discussing here is the frustration-aggression
theory, proposed by two great academics such as John Dollard and Neal Miller. The
Frustration-Aggression hypothesis attempts to explain why people scapegoat. It
attempts to give an explanation as to the cause of violence. It holds that frustration
causes aggression, but when the source of the frustration cannot be challenged, the
aggression gets displaced onto an innocent target. This explains why foreigners who
are neither culpable nor guilty of the economic woes in places where xenophobia had
manifested in Africa were scapegoated and made victims of the citizens’ frustration
with their system leading to transfer of aggression from them to the foreigners.
Frustration has also led to aggression by unexpected blocking of goals. In other
words, the sudden failure of any expected goal could lead to frustration. And it has
been arbitrarily proven that frustration is a strong antecedent of aggressive beha-
viours. [Berkowitz, 1969]
If the assumption given above is juxtaposed with the African experience of
xenophobic attacks, it will however not be out of place to infer that the level of
Aggression vented on the foreigners by natives of African countries where
xenophobia had occurred before was as a result of their economic frustration that is
hinged on their inability to meet their economic needs.
Conclusively therefore, it should be pointed out here that based on the recognition
of the fact that no single theoretical frame can independently and succinctly capture
the dynamics of African xenophobia without taking into cognizance other theoretical
perspectives, two broad theoretical theses have been adopted in this study to provide
us with insightful explanations on the rise and causes of African xenophobia. It must
be bore in mind that in trying to fully and holistically capture the causal factors of
this xenophobia, several theoretical perspectives must be explored because these
factors are not only numerous but equally complex in nature. Nonetheless, the two
adopted theses in this study provide us with the linkage between the economic
frustrations of the native population from the countries where xenophobia had
manifested before and the attendant aggression that was expressed in physical attacks
on foreigners in these countries. This then implies that if poverty and other economic
problems are not resolved by African governments in areas where unemployment
and poverty hold sway, the quest to banish xenophobia from Africa may not be
actualized. There is therefore the need for African governments to tackle the source
of their peoples’ frustration that is leading to aggressive xenophobic behaviour.
The Stupendous Oxymoron and Paradox of the Vision of Africanity in
First, it’s nothing but a paradox to be talking of Africanity in an environment that
is devoid of the basic ideals of Africanity itself. If Africanity is still what it was
conceived to be by the great Ali Muzrah, then it remains a paradox to be propagating
this vision when the continent itself is against it while also embracing its antithesis.
The whole concept of Africanity as conceived by its originator, Ali Muzrah, is a
vision, a consciousness, that when tapped into, is capable of defacing the already
constructed Eurocentric view of African worldview, and one that is capable of
unleashing African solidarity, belief, unity and togetherness for Africa’s develop-
ment. Ironically, it’s the antitheses of this vision that are being embraced in
contemporary Africa. Xenophobia, racism, ethnic cleansing to mention but a few are
defining characters of the African continent. It’s now laughable to be seeing scholars
and even government officials talking about the importance and utility of using the
Ideals of Africanity to provide an alternative African stance to the arrogant
Eurocentric worldview when the continent is still wallowing in those pathologies the
vision of Africanity is aimed at correcting at the global level. Isn’t it a paradox?
From the time the vision was conceived up to this present day, it has failed to
deliver its inherent prospects that are capable of transforming the African continent
and catapult it to an enviable level owing largely to the African version of
xenophobia otherwise known as African xenophobia. Africanity talks about
maintaining a united front to any imperialistic tendencies of any sort, but Africans
still have phobia for fellow Africans. Where then are the ideals of Africanity that can
bring about the true state of Africanity as a state of development that is capable of
heralding other phases of development in Africa? Evidently, Africanity has failed to
yield the desired results because of Africans, their attitudes towards one another and
their tolerance level. The ideals of Africanity were evident in relations amongst
Africans prior to the advent of colonialism. These ideals were evident in the way
Africans traded with one another especially between the Sahara and Sub-Sahara
merchants. Africans lived and co-existed peacefully as brothers. Although, one of the
reasons that have been put forward by the colonialists as justification for colonizing
Africa was that African societies were into war with one another but this narrative
has been discredited by Afrocentric scholars for being fallacious and baseless. [Adu,
1989] One of the legacies of European rule in Africa is the disarticulated economies
inherited by Independent African States that they are still grappling with after many
years. This undoubtedly is the foundation of the worsening economic conditions that
is fuelling the embers of xenophobia amongst Africans.
However, since it was identified, through the manifestation of these xenophobic
attacks in Africa, that most of them were stimulated by the economic factor, the
emphasis was on finding a solution. African governments could move forward in
their attempt to enshrine the ideals of Africanity and drive away the threat of
Conclusion and Recommendations
In concluding a paper of this nature, two basic questions need to be answered.
First, what is the focus of this paper’s argument? Has this paper contributed to the
search for sustainable solutions to the identified societal problem such as
xenophobia and the failures of Africanity? These questions will serve as the
launching pad to providing an all-round concluding remark here. In light of these,
the paper has argued that the current propagation of the vision of Africanity in the
face of African xenophobia is nothing other than a paradox. Or how can two sides of
a coin and opposites be reconciled? A failed vision, I guess. The paper has recounted
how series of xenophobic manifestations have stalled the realization of the ideals and
vision of Africanity in contemporary Africa. The paper has also been able to identify
a common attribute to most of the xenophobic manifestations in Africa. The attribute
is grounded in economic factor. It however argued conclusively that, unless the bane
of what the paper itself regards as African xenophobia due to its African peculiarities,
is urgently quenched, the Vision of Africanity as conceived by its originator, Ali
Muzrah, might not be redeemed from its present pit of failures. Needless to say, for
now, that the Vision of Africanity remains a failed vision but nevertheless, it is not
beyond redemption if revisited and repositioned on the path of success by eliminating
its greatest enemy, African xenophobia. How then can African xenophobia be
banished from Africa?
First, since it was discovered that worsening economic conditions in terms of
unemployment rate, literacy level and standard of living of the places where the
attacks had been perpetrated in Africa contributed immensely to the African
xenophobia, we need to point out here that African governments might need to take
the economic needs of their people seriously.
Second, African governments must, through the auspices of a supra-national
continental body like the African Union, endeavour to institute a mass awareness
and sensitization program across the continent on the ills of xenophobic attacks.
More so, the media outlets in Africa should be charged towards upholding the
ethics of their profession rather than engaging in sensational journalism by
misrepresenting facts and figures as well as telling the people what they want to
hear in lieu of reporting actual facts. Similarly, the Police, Security agencies and
other governmental authority that directly deal or relate with foreigners in African
countries should be tutored on the importance of upholding their oath of practice
rather than giving room for the temptations that could ignite xenophobic, racial,
discriminatory tendencies within them.
Third, since education is the key in any human organization, as it has been
observed in the course of this research, African governments need to do more in
tackling illiteracy amongst its citizenry. The colonial legacy of educational
disparity still subsists in Africa as a whole and statistics further show that majority
of Africans that participated in these xenophobic attacks are illiterates and ignorant
of the African philosophy of peaceful coexistence and brotherhood. In fact,
according to an Afro-barometer survey, within the South African context for
instance, South African natives living in the rural areas harbour more xenophobic
sentiments than people in the city. [Afro-barometer, 2016] Hence, the need for
promotion of mass literacy level in Africa.
 Abdi, A. (2009). Brief History and Analysis of Xenophobia in South Africa. Available at
 Adebajo, A. (2011). UN Peacekeeping in Africa: From the Suez Canal to the Sudan
Conflicts. Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
 Adu, B. (1989). African Perspectives on European Colonialism. New York: John
Hopkins University Press.
 Afrobarometer (2016). Immigration Remains a Challenge for South Africa’s
Government and Citizens (Differences in tolerance by Demographic Group Dispatch).
No. 72/Anyway Chingwete.
 Akinrinde, O. (2018). “The Politics of Non-Refoulement and the Syrian Refugee
Crisis,” The Journal of International Relations, Peace Studies, and Development: Vol.
4: Iss. 1, Article 6.
 Aremu, O. & Ajayi, T. (2014). “Expulsion of Nigerian Immigrant Community from
Ghana in 1969: Causes and Impact.” Developing Countries Studies 4(10)176.
 “Asians Given 90 Days to Leave Uganda.” BBC News 7 August, 1972.
 Berkowitz, L. (1969). “The Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis Revisited,” in: Berokowitz
(ed.), Roots of Aggression, Atherton Press, New York.
 Bihr, A. (2005). The Path of Xenophobia: From Heterophobia to Resentments. Available
at http://www. psf-en.com/sp.p.php? Article 7. Retrieved 21/3/16.
 Blank, J., & Bucholz, S. (2005). Determinants of Xenophobia among South African
Students in the Self-Declared Rainbow Nation. Available at http://www.
 Bordeau, J. (2010). Xenophobia: The Violence of Fear and Hate. New York: Rosen
 Buchanan-Clarke, S., & Lekalake, R. (2015). “Is Kenya’s Anti-Terrorist Crackdown
Exacerbating Drivers of Violent Extremism?” Afrobarometer 2 July.
 Business Dictionary online. 2016.
 “Cameroon expels 2,000 Nigerians in fight against Boko Haram”. Telegraph 31 July,
 Center for Human Rights (2009). “The Nature of South Africa’s Legal Obligations to
Combat Xenophobia”. Pretoria: Center for Human Rights.
 Dollard, M. et al. (1939). Frustration and Aggression, Yale University Press, New
 “Equatorial Guinea: Oil money draws Sub-Saharan Africans”. IRIN News 22 October,
 Ernest, S. (2015). “Chad Expels Dozens of Cameroonians.” Cameroon Concord 28 June.
 Essa, A. (2015). “Is South Africa Taking Xenophobia Seriously?” Al Jazeera 30 April.
 Ghosh, P. (2013). “A Tale of Two Crises: Illegal Immigrants in Tanzania and
Malaysia.” International Business Times, 3 September.
 Gocking, R. (2005). The History of Ghana. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.
 Gray, C. (1998). “Cultivating Citizenship through Xenophobia in Gabon, 1960-1995.”
Africa Today 45(3/4)389.
 Hansen, R. (2000). Citizenship and Immigration in Post-war Britain. Oxford: Oxford
 Harris, B. (2002). “Xenophobia: A New Pathology for a New South Africa?” In D.
Hook & G. Eagle (Eds.). Psychopathology and social prejudice (169-184). Lansdowne:
 Henckaerts, J. (1995). Mass Expulsion in Modern International Law and Practice.
Leiden: MartinusNijhoff Publishers.
 Hill, A. & Lefko-Everett, K. (2008). “The Perfect Storm: The Realities of Xenophobia
in South Africa.” Migration Policy Series. 50.
 Human Rights Watch (2001). The New Racism: The Political Manipulation of
Ethnicity in Cote d’Ivoire. New York: Human Rights Watch Publications.
 Human Rights Watch (2009). Well Oiled: Oil and Human Rights in Equatorial
Guinea. New York: Human Rights Publications.
 Human Rights Watch (2012). “If You Come Back We Will Kill You”. Sexual Violence
and Other Abuses against Congolese Migrants during Expulsions from Angola. New
York: Human Rights Watch Publications.
 Kollapan, J. (1999). “Xenophobia in South Africa: The Challenge to Forced Migration.”
Unpublished seminar, 7 October. Graduate School: University of the Witwatersrand.
 Matzopoulos, R., Corrigall, J., & Bowman, B. (2009). A Health Impact Assessment of
International Migrants Following the Xenophobic Attacks in Gauteng and the Western
Cape. Retrieved 15 March, 2016, from http://programs.ifpri.org/renewal/pdf/
 May, J., Woolard, I. & Klasen, S. (2000). “The Nature and Measurement of Poverty
and Inequality.” In J. May (Ed.). Poverty and Inequality in South Africa: Meeting the
Challenge (19-50). Cape Town: David Philip.
 McDonald, D.A., Gay, J., Zinyama, L., Mattes, R., & de Vletter, R. (1998).
Challenging Xenophobia: Myths and Realities about Cross-Border Migration in
Southern Africa (Migration Policy Series No. 7). Cape Town: Southern African
 Mogekwu, M. (2005). “African Union: Xenophobia as Poor Intercultural Information,”
Ecquid Novi 26(1): 5-20.
 Molefi, K. (1990). Kemet, Afrocentricity, and Knowledge. Trenton: Africa World Press.
 Muzrah, A. (2002). Africanity Redefined. Collected Essays of Ali, A. Muzrah, volume
1. Series Editor, Toyin Falola. Edited by Ricardo Rene Laremont and Tracia Leacock
Seghatolislami. Trenton: Africa World Press.
 Naluyaga, R. (2013). “Dar Defends Move to Expel Rwandans.” The East African, 17
 Ngugi waThiong’, O. (2009). Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance. New
York: Basic Civitas Books.
 Nieftagodien, N. (2008). “Xenophobia in Alexandra.” In S. Hassim, T. Kupe and E.
Worby (Eds.). Gohome or Die Here: Violence, Xenophobia and There Invention of
Difference in South Africa (65-78). Johannesburg: Wits Press.
 Obakhedo, O. & Otoghile, A. (2011). “Nigeria-Ghana Relations from 1960 to 2010:
Roots of Convergence and points of Departure.” African Research Review 131.
 Peberdy, S. (2009). Selecting Immigrants: National Identity and South Africa’s
Immigration Policies, 1910-2008. Wits University Press: Johannesburg.
 Pillay, D. (2008). “Relative Deprivation, Social Instability and Cultures of
Entitlement.” In S. Hassim, T. Kupe and E. Worby (Eds.). Go Home or Die Here:
Violence, Xenophobia and There Invention of Difference in South Africa (93-104).
Johannesburg: Wits Press.
 Wikipedia Online. 11 May, 2016.
 Worby, E., Hassim, S. & Kupe, T. (2008). “Introduction.” In S. Hassim, T. Kupe and
E. Worby (Eds.). Go Home or Die Here: Violence, Xenophobia and the Reinvention of
Difference in South Africa (1-26). Johannesburg: Wits Press.
 “Xenophobic Riots Erupt in Zambia Over Ritual Killings.” Financial Watch News
Online 19 April, 2016.
 Your Dictionary Online, 2016.
PAPERS OF YOUNG RESEARCHERS
(STUDENTS / MASTERS / DOCTORAL
AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDENTS)