How The Xenophobic Vandalism Affected Us
September 3, 2019, brought news that soiled the mood of many Nigerians, riding on the waves of the xenophobic attacks happening in South Africa which affected many Nigerian-owned businesses. As we tried to make sense of the videos and images of our brothers being burnt and many businesses suffering the same fate trending on social media, we had one question buried deep in our hearts, “does nationalism now supersede humanity?”
Conversations started on social media, our people wanted a swift response, not a delegation: In little trickles, an ocean was gathering. I vividly remember going home after closing from work on that Tuesday. A friend had called me, begged me to go home. My sister also had called, asking me to be sure to avoid taking any route that went through a mall to avoid the protests. There was an undefined tension in the air, as an uprising that seemingly started on social media had culminated into physical protests at shopping malls against South African businesses who were tenants. Our people couldn’t wait any longer, we wanted action, not delegations, so we formed our own delegations who would go on to take action.
Suddenly, the dam broke! What started out as a protest gathered momentum as our people were finally able to break into some malls. What euphoria! Finally, our people were going to be able to do something to combat the xenophobic attacks happening in South Africa by protesting inside the malls. What our people didn’t prepare for was the power of the mob mentality as chaos broke loose. Stores were broken into and looted. The same malls that we used to have scenes of parents and children, official and unofficial meetings, dates with loved ones and people shopping
suddenly morphed before our very eyes as various scenes of destruction unfolded, no one paused to consider that it was Nigerians who worked in those stores, who owned most of those businesses that were now being attacked as our people took the carnage as an opportunity to cart away good worth millions from any store they could break into in the malls.
Finally, our people turned on us, who had been just as shocked by the wave of xenophobic attacks that unravelled in South Africa, and destroyed our free-standing digital screens at the Adeniran Ogunsanya Mall and the Novare Mall, all in a bid to send a message to perpetrators of xenophobia in South Africa, causing irreparable damage to some of the screens and a loss that runs into millions for our business.
Now, we are left wondering how it all went wrong, wondering why our people turned us into the enemy and attacked a Nigerian owned business, wondering how our people slipped from xenophobia to attacking their own people.
We are Nimbus, We are Nigerian and we say no to vandalism, looting and xenophobia.
“One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity…”