‘In the shadow of Africa’s giants’--Nigeria & South Africa
By Peter Kahler/WADR News/Cape Town
The frosty diplomatic relations seen recently between Nigeria and South Africa have come to the fore at a conference on Africa’s future being held in Cape Town, South Africa.
Dubbed OpenForum 2012, the gathering which started on Tuesday and ends on Thursday, is co-hosted by four Africa foundations of the Open Society Foundations of billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
The recent diplomatic row had to do with South Africa’s deportation of Nigerians for not having Yellow Fever vaccination cards and reciprocal actions from Abuja.
Also there are stark differences on continental issues between Nigeria and South Africa, with a picture painted of rivalry and competition between the two giants of sub-Saharan Africa.
Speaking on the theme “In the shadows of Giants: Nigeria and South Africa”, two prominent citizens of the two countries agreed on the need to hype on the positives rather than the negatives regarding ties between the two regional and continental powers.
Former South Africa deputy president, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka, and Dr. Adebayo Olukoshi, director of the UN Africa Institute for Economic Development and Planning, posit that the situation may not be as dismal as thought in some quarters.
Olukoshi thinks this could well be an example of how Africa is not at “optimal functioning”, noting that this “race to the bottom is not unique to Nigeria and South Africa” on the continent.
The Nigerian, who is also Professor of International Economic Relations, believes that “poverty is the broader canvas” on which strained relations between the two countries thrive, and called for speedy development of people-to-people interactions as an avenue of addressing the problem.
When I caught up with ex-South African deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka after the panel discussion, she had this to say:
Click audio below to listen
Delegates to the forum on Money, Power and Sex: The paradox of unequal growth, organized by four Open Society Africa foundations, holding in Cape Town 22-24 May, think the two panelists were downplaying the issue.
Cautioning the two countries to redress this state of affairs, a Zimbabwean delegate at the forum quoted a Shona proverb that says: When two elephants fight, the grass suffers, and when they make love the grass still suffers, so the problem is not what the elephants do, but their sheer weight.