The Nigerian and South African Governments are to use cultural diplomacy to end incessant xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the announcement on Friday in Abuja.
He was speaking when the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Lulu Mnguni, paid him a courtesy visit.
Mohammed said that Nigeria and South Africa were two brotherly countries that had enjoyed long-standing relations, in spite of occasional disagreements.
He said the cultural diplomacy was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s recommendations for people-to-people relations between both countries in ending xenophobia.
The minister said that Buhari gave the recommendation when the South African President, Mr Jacob Zuma, paid a state visit to Nigeria.
He said that cultural diplomacy was an effective tool that would end xenophobia and strengthen the understanding between Nigerians and South Africans.
‘‘The options open to us in the area of cultural diplomacy are many but please, permit me to highlight a few of what we are planning to do in the months ahead.
‘‘The ministry of information and culture, working in collaboration with its relevant parastatal agencies is to embark on a series of activities in South Africa to strengthen the understanding between Nigerians and South Africans.
‘‘These activities include joint musical concerts, co-production in the area of films, visit of popular Nollywood actors and actresses to South Africa as part of a Nigerian delegation going on a confidence-building trip.
‘‘Exhibitions featuring Nigerian delicacies to be entitled “A Taste of Nigeria’’ and a town hall meeting for Nigerians resident in South Africa, with a view to encouraging dialogue on the way forward.’’
The minister said that the activities would kick-off in the weeks ahead and would not be a one-off event.
He said that while diplomats continued to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries, the ministry would deploy and ensure the sustenance of cultural diplomacy to bring the people together.
Mohammed noted that if the relations between Nigeria and South Africa became more cordial, it would have a positive effect on the whole of Africa.
‘‘Over 120 South African companies, perhaps more than those of any other African country are doing business in Nigeria. Thousands of Nigerians regularly travel to South Africa for business and leisure.
‘‘Historically, Nigeria played a frontline role in helping to end the scourge of apartheid in South Africa.
‘‘We must spare no effort in strengthening this brotherly spirit between our two countries and cultural diplomacy will be a major tool in this effort.’’
Mnguni said earlier, that both countries shared trenches together for many years during the regime of apartheid which South Africa was able to defeat with the support of Nigeria.
The envoy thanked the Federal Government for the relentless fight side by side with his country during the apartheid era.
He said there was urgent need to deploy programmes that would educate the people on the time-tested relations between both countries.
‘‘We believe that using culture, music, poetry and many other forms of cultural relations will help to strengthen our cohesion.’’
Mnguni noted that Nigeria had potential in the field of culture which could be used to strengthen relations between the two countries.
He thanked the minister for championing the cultural diplomacy initiative to address racial intolerance.
Edited by Mustapha Lamidi/Silas