“A Thankless Job”

Barrister Austin Okeke Writes From South Africa

We are standing in a shade today because somebody some time ago planted a tree.

As the leader of the Nigerian community in South Africa in 1995, I led a well-celebrated protest against the Nigerian government for the murder of Ken Saro Wiwa and 9 others.

It was covered by world media including CNN, BBC, Sky News, South African Broadcasting Corporation and United Nation TV.

Presidents Obasanjo and Buhari and others were in detention at the time, and we included their unconditional release as one of our demands. It is ironic to have the same Buhari treat fellow Nigerians in such an atrocious manner.

His deliberate silence and refusal to only condemn the barbaric acts ties him to the atrocities.

We shouldn’t blame people for point accusing fingers at him.

Now that similar atrocities are happening daily in Nigeria, the same union of people are deliberately ignoring it and refusing to condemn atrocities against fellow humans.

It is indeed man inhumanity to man that we witness every day in Nigeria.

That the South African government decided to recognize Nigerians as asylum seekers were as a result of the well-celebrated protest action.

Today a Nigerian could walk into the Dept of Immigration as a result of our past actions, which actions today the recipients of the reward now see as abominable.

That Nigerians today are able to obtain residence permits based on their marriages to South Africans, was as a result of our proactive leadership and actions, not only at the Dept of Immigration but also at the Parliament in Capetown.

Some of the current leaders of Nigeria Union South Africa were witnesses to these actions, reason I am really hazy as to the reason they have kept mum about the atrocities happening daily in Nigeria.

That the government of President Nelson Mandela organized a similar protest against the Nigerian government was as a result of our leadership and actions. The band then played on.

We must demonstrate leadership as true leaders, which are not only fit for purpose but also with sincerity of purpose.

I guess these qualities are hard to find nowadays.

The ANC would eventually create a platform called the South Africa Nigeria Democratic Support Group, was as a result of our actions. This platform was used to successfully campaign for sanctions against the then government of Nigeria at the time.

We knew what we were doing. We knew that we were preparing a better future for the Nigerians that would come after us. So it is for them today.

We are standing in a shade today because somebody some time ago planted a tree.

That I have positively impacted on the lives of the people whose names and faces I may never know, are the reasons I go to sleep a happy man.

I thank you

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Austin Okeke
Austin Okeke 33 posts

Barrister Austin Okeke Writes From South Africa

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