The Nigerian High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa has issues an advisory on safe conduct during and after the AFCON semi-final match between the Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana scheduled for Wednesday.
The advisory follows what the High Commission described as “potentially inflammatory online comments made by a section of South African citizens against Nigerians living in host country, largely influenced by the upcoming 2024 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final match between the Super Eagles and the Bafana Bafana on Wednesday, February 7, 2024”.
Nigerians in the country were warned to be careful, especially if the will be watching the game in a public place.
The advisory issued on Tuesday read: “The attention of the Nigeria High Commission Pretoria has been drawn to potentially inflammatory online comments made by a section of South African citizens against Nigerians living in host country, largely influenced by the upcoming 2024 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final match between the Super Eagles and the Bafana Bafana on Wednesday 7th February 2024.
“Most of the comments consist of veiled threats against “Nigerians cooking jollof rice” before the match, and “showing pepper to Nigerians if the Bafana Bafana lose to the Super Eagles”, among others.
“In this regard, the High Commission hereby advises the Nigerian community to be watchful of their utterances, be mindful of where they choose to watch the match especially in public places, and refrain from engaging in loud, riotous or provocative celebrations should the Super Eagles win the match.
“Additionally, Nigerians should maintain the good conduct they are known for, and be law abiding before, during and after the match. Should any provocations arise, they should not be reciprocated but reported to the appropriate authorities.”
The Super Eagles qualified for the semi-finals of the AFCON 2023 after beating the Palencas Negras of Angola 1-0 on Friday. South Africa’s Bafana Bafana beat Cape Verde 2-1 on penalties to set up the match with Nigeria.
Violent attacks on Nigerians in South Africa
Already instances of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians by South Africans are a recurring problem.
Some of such major attacks include the 2008 riots in Alexandra township targeting migrants from Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria.
Seven years later in 2015, there was violence of such magnitude against foreigners in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, leading to several deaths and displacement of many Nigerians.
Just two years after that in 2017, widespread xenophobic attacks swept across South Africa, particularly targeting Nigerian businesses and communities. At least 12 people were killed, and many properties were destroyed.
The latest of such attacks with far reaching consequences was in 2019 when a series of xenophobic violence rocked South Africa, resulting in over 10 deaths and significant damage to Nigerian-owned businesses. This led to diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Last year there were several reports of planned attacks against Nigerians in South Africa sparking concern and travel advisories.