Afro-xenophobic violence in South Africa and the call of history

April 22, 2015 OPINION/NEWS




Nana Arhin Tsiwah

The recent spate of xenophobic violence in South Africa prompted me to write the following historical piece and why it is relevant to relate ideologically to the Cold War (1945-1989/90) and its consequent, the apartheid system. It is unfortunate that many black foreigners in South Africa, in spite of the country’s diversity, are seen as aliens, this article focusing in particular on Ghanaians.

The contributions of Ghana towards what South Africa is today cannot be understated nor can it be repaid. At a time when the world, including African countries, rejected South Africa for its crude and chronic practice of the inhumane apartheid system, President Nkrumah of blessed memory had to ‘abandon’ Ghana, a country that was still gaining feet in development, to support single-handedly in the fight against the apartheid government.

The cosmological dedication and support Ghana gave to South Africa was worth what could have transformed Ghana in a more positive direction should such efforts be injected into the economic train of independent Ghana at the time. Some of these contributions from Kwame Nkrumah are benefits still enjoyed by South Africans today.


First of all, Nkrumah, alarmed at the quantum espionage tactics employed by the West, in particular the United States, decided to stifle all angular efforts aimed at thwarting the safety of freedom fighters in South Africa. To that effect, the African Affair Bureau of Flagstaff House was set up. The vast Pan-African Nationalism experiences of George Padmore as head of the Bureau was judiciously utilised.

The motive for Ghana and Nkrumah’s thinking behind the African Affair Bureau was to promote the logic of propagandism and ideological training in scientific socialism. To this tune, The Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Training Institute was established at Winneba. Many conscious South Africans benefited immensely from this gracious initiative by Nkrumah and his Ghana, between 1962-1964, 800 students graduating from this prominent institute.


Nkrumah again, at a time where Ghanaians needed sufficient care and attention in terms of infrastructural development, dedicated the Ghana Blackstar line and Ghana Airways for the purposes of conveying eagerly black freedom fighters from South Africa to Ghana for studies and training the mind in true freedom fighting ideals; something the resting soul of Steve Biko would happily have enjoyed. By 1965, the sum of 574, 000 pounds per year was used for this purpose— all from the strongbox of Ghana.


In addition to this and notwithstanding other viable and salient contributions made by Nkrumah, ten camps across Ghana were established for the psychological, physiological and emotional resilience training of black freedom fighters from Southern African countries of which South Africa benefited.


Fast forward now to the recent Afro-xenophobic violence in South Africa. The purpose of this historical outline, as stipulated earlier,  is to highlight how bad it would be for any human, especially, a black person residing on the African continent to be killing other black Africans, simply because you hate them.

One thing I am attempting  through this anguished short piece is for us to come to terms with why it is wrong for such happenings to be occurring now in South Africa.

In this light, Kwame Nantambu (Nantanmbu, 1998:569) defines Pan-African Nationalism as “the national, unified struggle and resistance of African people against all forms of foreign aggression and invasion. The primary goal of Pan-African Nationalism is the total liberation and unification of all Africans and people of African descent under African communalism”, and not the reverse. These words by Kwame Nantambu are surely an affirmation of Nkrumah’s tremendous and undenying support of South Africa, in spite of the crude tendencies the apartheid system brought, out of which led to his eventual putsch by the West in February 1966.


I end by stating that the awful evil Afro-xenophobic tendencies at present sprouting in South Africa must be condemned by all forebearers of the ethos of Africanism and black dignity. As President Mugabe painted clearly in his words, “South Africans will kick down a statue of a dead white man, but won’t even attempt to slap a live one… Yet they can stone to death a black man simply because he is a stranger”.






Nana Arhin Tsiwah is an undergraduate student from Cape Coast, Ghana; a disciple of Pan-African consciousness, a cultural ideologist, an awensemist (poet) of different shade but tells of a hunter’s trails for Akanism. He is an orator and a village servant in a poetry movement dubbed; ‘The Village Thinkers‘.


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