Citizen Diplomacy in Nigeria-South Africa Relation: Confronting the Paradox of Xenophobia

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citizen diplomacy, foreign nationals, hegemony, South Africa, xenophobia


Africa is witnessing a recurring wave of xenophobic attacks despite being built on the foundations of humanity and oneness. Despite being situated at various sub-region in Africa, Nigeria and South Africa are both regarded as regional hegemons, and as regional hegemons, they tussle for international recognition as exemplified in occasional diplomatic confrontations. Relations between Abuja and Pretoria have been marked by several stages with their political, economic and socio-cultural interaction punctuated by rivalry, conflict, cooperation and competition. This article explores the paradox of xenophobia in South Africa and its impact on strategic relations with Nigeria through the lens of citizen diplomacy. Relying on secondary data, we assess the how Nigerians residing in South Africa can be protected through the instrumentality of citizen diplomacy. From the study, the authors argue that prevalence of xenophobic prejudice and violence on African nationals (including Nigerians) residing in South Africa arises due to limited implementation and utilization of the citizen’s diplomacy by the Nigerian government. Therefore, we propose policy prescriptions to enhance the Nigeria-South Africa strategic partnership with an emphasis on the adoption of a cultural mix policy and early warning signals, which are paramount in eliminating xenophobic conflicts in African societies.


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Author Biographies

Olusola Ogunnubi, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Olusola Ogunnubi is a Research Fellow with the Cape Peninsula University of technology, South Africa and an Adjunct Research Scholar at Carleton University, Canada. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and his research interest is mainly concerned with the power dynamics of Africa’s regional powers. His current research focuses on the intersection between religion, foreign policy and the state with specific attention to Nigeria’s religious soft power.

Uchenna A Aja, Department of Political Science, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria

Uchenna A. Aja is graduate student with the department of political science, University of Ilorin, Ilorin Nigeria. His research interest spans issues on Security Studies, Insurgency & Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crimes, Peace and Conflict Processes and Diplomacy studies.


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How to Cite

Ogunnubi, O., & Aja, U. A. (2022). Citizen Diplomacy in Nigeria-South Africa Relation: Confronting the Paradox of Xenophobia. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 9(3), 133–151.



Original Manuscript
Received 2021-11-11
Accepted 2022-06-26
Published 2022-07-16