“The attention of the Nigeria High Commission Pretoria has been drawn to potentially inflammatory online comments made by a section of South African citizens against Nigerians living in the host country,” a statement from the High Commission read.
It said the threats are largely influenced by the 2024 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final match between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and South Africa’s Bafana Bafana, scheduled to hold on Wednesday, 7 February.
“Most of the comments consist of veiled threats against “Nigerians cooking jollof rice” before the match, and “showing pepper to Nigerians if the Bafana Bafana lose to the Super Eagles,” the High Commission said.
The High Commission urged Nigerians in South Africa to be mindful of their utterances, as well as where they choose to watch the match, especially in public places.
It also advised that they refrain from engaging in loud, riotous or provocative celebrations should the Super Eagles win the match.
The High Commission encouraged them to continue to remain law abiding and report to the appropriate authorities should any provocation occur.
Football fans all over the world are known to exchange friendly banter each time their teams meet on the pitch, with most of the banter taken in good faith.
The same has been seen with the ongoing AFCON in Côte d’ivoire, where supporters of different teams are seen exchanging banter on social media.
For instance, last week when Nigeria defeated Angola to reach the semi finals, there was banter all over social media including from the official Nigerian handle of DSTV, the cable TV service provider.
“Hi @DSTVAngola, cooking mode activated,” DSTv Nigeria posted on X showing a picture of a crying man.
After the match, the handle again posted a picture with the word ‘Roasted’ animated saying “The antelope that jests with the eagle soon learns the sky is not a playground for ground-dwellers.”
The same handle has also made similar posts about the scheduled match between Nigeria and South Africa.
“Hey @DStv South Africa, looks like you’re up next! Brace yourselves, Amapiano might lose their piano when faced with the mighty Afro beats,” it said, adding that #NGARSA is about to turn into a dance-off.
In another post, it referred to Bafana Bafana as Banana Banana showing an Eagle in the kitchen peeling bananas.
“Super Eagles have their breakfast menu ready: Banana! So good we would eat it twice! Time to teach them how to peel off a win!” DSTv Nigeria said.
In response to the Nigerian handle, the South African handle which is also the headquarters of DSTV posted a picture with wins from different sports saying “keep talking, we will make space.”
There has been a history of xenophobic attacks against Nigerians living in or visiting South Africa over the years.
Violent attacks on Nigerians and other Africans have regularly erupted in South Africa partly because some South Africans accuse foreigners of dealing drugs or taking their jobs.
In 2022, the Nigerian High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa, alerted Nigerians living in South Africa of a planned attack on foreign nationals.
“This is to advise Nigerians living in South Africa to be vigilant and exercise caution in their activities due to the recent utterances of the proponents of the Operation Dudula and their threats to attack foreign nationals in this country,” an August 2022 memo read
In 2019, at least 10 deaths were recorded, including two foreigners, and many businesses were destroyed, prompting Nigeria to recall its ambassador while President Muhammadu Buhari sent a special envoy to South Africa.