Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

Nigerian Artists Are Boycotting South Africa Because Of Deadly Violence Against Foreigners

Seven people have died in the latest cycle of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

Posted on September 4, 2019, at 3:27 p.m. ET

Michele Spatari / AFP / Getty Images

The scene of a looted shop where a charred body was found in Johannesburg, Sept. 4.

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.”

But Today After watching the Killing of my people in South Africa the same way we have all watched it happen a few times in the past. FUCK ALL THAT! I personally have had my own xenophobic experiences at the hands of South Africans and because of that.....

I have not set foot in SA since 2017. And I 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.

Rich Fury / Getty Images

Burna Boy (center) at the BET Awards in June.

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.

Jemal Countess / Getty Images

Tiwa Savage

“I refuse to watch the barbaric butchering of my people in SA. This is SICK,” she tweeted.

I refuse to watch the barbaric butchering of my people in SA. This is SICK. For this reason I will NOT be performing at the upcoming DSTV delicious Festival in Johannesburg on the 21st of September. My prayers are with all the victims and families affected by this.

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.

These #xenophobicattacks and assaults on women in 🇿🇦 aren’t new. They‘re a direct symptom of apartheid & they‘ll only end once the attackers realize that women & Nigerians are not the enemy. Neo-colonialists made u feel castrated & worthless; tribalism & patriarchy are their guns

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.)

Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Jidenna

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.

The continuing attacks on Nigerian nationals and businesses in South Africa are unacceptable. Enough is enough. Nigeria will take definitive measures to ensure safety and protection of her citizens. (1/2)

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.”

I condemn the violence that has been spreading around a number of our provinces in the strongest terms. I’m convening the ministers in the security cluster today to make sure that we keep a close eye on these acts of wanton violence and find ways of stopping them.


ADVERTISEMENT