The Context of Xenophobia in Africa: Nigeria and South Africa in Comparison

Part of the Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development book series (AAESPD)


Xenophobia has become a recurrent phenomenon in Africa. It often occurs with attendant consequences for lives and properties, and inter-state diplomatic relations. Though globalization has purportedly conscripted the world into a concise village where everyone is recognized as a global citizen, ethnic and identity consciousness still define the basis for cross-border interactions. The search for greener pasture defined in terms of economic prosperity through gainful employment, conducive environment for skill acquisition and self-actualization, access to modern infrastructure and academic pursuit usually exacerbates immigration. However, the citizens of host countries tend to display hostilities and hatred towards non-nationals as competition for resources become tense. This chapter examines the context of xenophobia in Nigeria and that of South Africa and assesses the attendant implications for pan-Africanism. The chapter revealed that while xenophobic experiences in Nigeria during the 1980s was fuelled by the economic crisis that plagued the oil-rich country due to the collapse in oil prices in the international market, the South African experiences have been linked to apartheid. In conclusion, xenophobia can unscrupulously impact the political and economic development aspirations of the African people and governments and erode the basis of pan-African relations that have defined Africa’s struggle against colonialism, apartheid and slavery.


Xenophobia Nigeria South Africa Economic Crisis Apartheid Afrophobia Pan-Africanism 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalPietermaritzburg, South Africa (UKZN)South Africa
  2. 2.Department of Conflict Transformation and Peace StudiesUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)PietermaritzburgSouth Africa

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