South Africa has been gripped by anti-foreigner violence

In our series of letters from African writers, Nigerian novelist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani reflects on her country’s souring relations with South Africa because of xenophobic attacks.

Animosity between Africa’s two superpowers – Nigeria and South Africa – has heightened in recent weeks, with an influential Nigerian student body demanding that all South African-owned businesses leave the West African state.

The National Association of Nigerian Students (Nans) – which represents university students at campuses across the country – has picketed branches of South African telecoms giant MTN, and those of supermarket chain Shoprite, turning away staff and customers.

Those protests were sparked by the death of a Nigerian woman who was reportedly strangled in her hotel room during a visit to the South African city of Johannesburg.

Elizabeth Ndubuisi-Chukwu is just the latest Nigerian to die in South Africa in apparently violent circumstances.

‘Killings must stop’

An autopsy revealed she had died of “unnatural causes consistent with strangulation” but officials say CCTV footage showed that nobody entered her room. Police are still investigating.

The Nigerian media seem to report at least one such incident every month, with numerous news outlets using the same telling headline: “Another Nigerian killed in South Africa.”

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