NAIROBI — Some of Nigeria’s biggest artists are taking a stand against a recent spate of xenophobic attacks in South Africa by condemning the violence and, in some cases, boycotting the country by refusing to perform there.
At least seven people have been killed in recent anti-African immigrant violence, including two yet-to-be-identified bodies that were found burned inside of shops that had been looted.
On Tuesday night, Burna Boy tweeted that he’s personally experienced xenophobia from South Africans and has not visited the country since 2017. He added that he “will NOT EVER go to South Africa again for any reason until the SOUTH AFRICAN government wakes the fuck up and really performs A miracle because I don’t know how they can even possibly fix this.”
Burna Boy — an award-winning singer-songwriter who’s currently on tour in the US — is scheduled to headline Afropunk in Johannesburg in December. BuzzFeed News has reached out to his manager and to Afropunk for comment.
Tiwa Savage, another mega-popular Nigerian artist who, like Burna Boy, is featured on Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift album, announced Tuesday that she would no longer be performing at a concert in Johannesburg that had been scheduled for Sept. 21.
“I refuse to watch the barbaric butchering of my people in SA. This is SICK,” she tweeted.
Jidenna, who is Nigerian American, also called out the attacks on Twitter, connecting it and the recent rape and murder of a 19-year-old South African woman to apartheid and neocolonialism.
Violence against African nationals in South Africa by South Africans was one of the biggest issues plaguing the country ahead of its elections earlier this year. But there has been a huge spike in violence against African nationals in recent weeks, particularly in Gauteng province (which includes Johannesburg) and Durban. Videos purporting to show African immigrants’ shops being looted and set on fire have gone viral on social media as people across the continent condemned the attacks. (But not all of the videos are from recent weeks, or even took place in South Africa.)
The Zambia High Commission in Pretoria issued a statement Aug. 26 following reports that Zambian truck drivers were being harassed and advised them to stay off the road.
On Aug. 29, Human Rights Watch released a report detailing the attacks immigrant truck drivers faced in South Africa, from gasoline bombs to stabbings. The African Diaspora Network, an organization that fights xenophobia in South Africa, issued a warning the following day telling African nationals, many of whom are store owners, to “close shops until calm prevails and the police have helped ascertained [sic] that the situation is completely under control.”
The Nigerian government called the attacks unacceptable and vowed to take “definitive measures” in order to protect its citizens.
But Nigerians also started looting South African–owned businesses in Nigeria yesterday, forcing companies like Shoprite and MTN to temporarily shut down.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned the attacks in South Africa on Sept. 3, calling them “totally unacceptable,” adding that it was “completely against the ethos that we as South Africans espouse, and there can be no justification whatsoever about what people are having a grievance over that they should go out and attack people from other countries.”