However, a deeper look at the system of apartheid and the structures that sustained its longevity, will reveal a ruthless and conservative ‘right wing press’ that perfected the infamous imperialist maxim of ‘divide et empera’ (divide and rule).
Apartheid classified peoples into the most absurd of groups with the intention to micromanage them in only ways that would benefit the system. Polarizing such groups to the extent that they would be mutually acrimonious and extremely hostile to each other was a job left to the right –wing press and they did a very good job at that.
The Zulu was made to hate the Xhosa and the Xhosa was engineered to despise the Shangaan. Lighter skinned Africans were classified into non-existent racial groups and made to discriminate against darker skinned ones. Vendas versus Pedis, the Indian Christian versus the Indian Muslim etc. Such evil skills for polarizing peoples was perfected under apartheid and can be pointed out as one of the factors why South Africa and Nigeria have the rockiest of relationships between countries on the African continent.
Post-Apartheid, ‘New South Africa’ was penciled down for collapse by many pundits from the political right. ‘This country will go to the dogs like the rest of Africa’ was their matra and their pessimistic declarations were amplified by the conservative press who wanted to exhibit that Africans were incapable of running the show.
Anything or any relationship that would enhance South Africa’s global econo-political stature thereby defying their prophesies of collapse was attacked. Nigeria was especially singled out and pitted against the New South Africa because of its history as a bulwark of support for the oppressed majority of South Africa and its unflinching stance against the Nationalists’ policies during apartheid. Collaboration of the new emergent State with is most natural ally on the continent post-apartheid (Nigeria), was forbidden and its citizens singled out for demonization to ensure non-cooperation and thus, non-development of the continent-Hence the Nigerian-South African relationship slipped from being co-operational to being confrontational.
Two events last year highlighted the low at which the African giants have descended to. These incidents were the emergence of Nigeria as Africa’s largest economy after rebasing and the unfortunate deaths of many South Africans at a Church building collapse at Lagos. These two incidents happened almost at the same periods and were used as launch pads for the press’ hateful incitements. The all too familiar tactics were employed once more, reason took flight and petulance amongst Nigerian and South Africa leaders set in!
The barrage of unreasonable and irresponsible comments from both sides of the divides reached an alarming crescendo thereby prompting a reasonable and timely intervention of Ex-Presidents Mbeki and Obasanjo who called for cessation of diplomatic hostilities and a halt to the drift.
As the political/diplomatic rift keeps widening between the countries, it has taken the Arts to remind Abuja and Pretoria of the immense potentials that lie in a co-operational relationship. Hip Hop as an art form has lived up to its iconoclastic reputation, cutting across the grains of retrogressive mindset to unite Africans -especially Nigerians and South Africans. The young of the both African giants have realized that their survival simply means creating alongside other artists from the continent, a huge market for their talents and laying into the immense untapped potentials of the large African market.
Yours sincerely was listening to a popular South African DJ on metro FM who popularized the play of Nigerian music in the South African Airwaves. He gave a very intelligent explanation why he plays Nigerian and other African Music on his show. He hoped that artistes of African origin could throw away their pettiness and collaborate more to ensure their economic successes. He made a remarkable analogy asking listeners to imagine if a South African musician had access to the up-to-one-billion-population of the continent and if such artist could have a quarter of the huge African population buying their albums?-Imagine Simpiwe Dana or Mafikizolo selling up to two million copies of their albums in Lagos or P square or Davido making such sales in South Africa? They would be a rich as American artists that have the whole of the America and some parts of the global music markets in their hands.
The Renaissance is happening already and it has started with music and the arts. While our politicians are bickering and have refused to unify our continent for the good of all that live in it, young Nigerians, and South Africans are blazing the trail for Africa’s unity and greatness.
Mbeki, Nkurumah and Azikiwe’s dreams of a renewed Africa are manifesting before our eyes each time we watch AKA and Da Les collaborating with Burna Boy or Davido collaborating with Mafikizolo.
How to begin is to begin! It took the sports and cultural exchanges between the Americans and the Chinese (the so-called ‘ping pong diplomacy’) in the early 70’s to thaw American’s icy relationship with the Chinese at that era.
Maybe for Nigeria-South Africa relationship, encouragement of our artists in both the visual and performance arts may end up pointing out the way to progress for our leaders.
We need a united Africa. Nigeria and South Africa’s unity will build a strong base for the renaissance of the continent. Issiah 11: 1-10 said ‘A little child shall lead them’. Maybe Hip Hop is that child!
Watch AKA - All Eyes On Me ft. Burna Boy, JR & Da LES (Official Video