Nigeria and South Africa have identified and agreed to explore the soft power of music, culture and other elements to end the xenophobic crisis against Nigerians and also rebuild a stronger relationship.
Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture Mr. Lai Mohammed stated this in Lagos,South West Nigeria on Thursday at a meeting with the South African Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.
According to Mr. Mohammed, Nigeria will continue to explore culture and tourism as veritable platforms to strengthen its ties with South Africa.
“We have always believed that culture and tourism are very effective platforms and avenues for cementing relationship between the two countries.
“A few years back, we did actually put in motion the machinery for cultural exchanges between Nigeria and South Africa and we are still working on it, because we believe that a lot of issues can be resolved when we bring to South Africa our very popular artistes because I am told that a few Nigerian musicians are extremely popular in South Africa and vice versa,” Mohammed said.
The Minister said that such bilateral engagements and collaborations at the highest level of government will inspire the citizens of both nations to continue to work harmoniously and live in peace with one another.
“In the last half an hour or so, we discussed and we have really seen that more things unite us than those that divide us and we have resolved, at least at the level of the leadership, to ensure that the good ties between Nigeria and South Africa continue and also by example inspire our people to continue to work together and live as brothers and sisters, which they have done for many years.”
Meanwhile the South Africa Minister of Tourism, Kubayi-Ngubane, emphasized the need for cultural exchanges between the citizens of the two countries as a deliberate policy to strengthen their existing relationship.
Kubayi-Ngubane said she was in Nigeria to further demonstrate her country’s commitment to the discussions held between President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria in South Africa, following the recent attacks on Nigerians in that country.
She said the President of South Africa had appointed former President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete and former President of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano to work with South African communities with a view to finding lasting solutions to the crisis especially from the local communities.
Kubayi-Ngubane however urged Nigerians to be wary of fake news, which is deliberately published to exacerbate the crisis in South Africa.
“One of the issues that we reiterated was that we need to be careful of fake news that sometimes exacerbate what is not real and what is not true.”
Whatever the case may be, it does not necessarily mean that we are abdicating our responsibilities as leaders, she submitted.
”Where things have happened wrong, we take responsibility as leaders but what we are saying to our citizens in the two countries is that we need to be careful of fake news. Get the real story, verify the information before we take things out of context.”
Nigeria and South Africa have a strong and long standing bilateral relationship which has always been beneficial to both countries until the advent of the unfortunate xenophobic crisis.