Posted by on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 Under: News Stories

On the 10th August 2013, women who are married to Nigerian citizens living in South Africa officially launched an organization, United Nigerian Wives in South Africa (UNWISA) aimed at fighting discrimination against them, their husbands and children at St. Aidans Anglican Church, Yeoville, Johannesburg.

 Mrs. Lindelwa Uche, the chairperson of the United Nigerian Wives in South Africa (UNWISA), said that South African society does not take their marriage to Nigerians as serious relationships. ``Our society does not take our marriages serious; they see our marriages as relations of convenience and perceive us as evil to the society. ``All of us are South Africans married to Nigerians living in South Africa, we decided to come together to fight against stigmatization, discrimination, and humiliation, against our families by government departments and agency and the officials of the government, the community and our-in-laws,'' she said.

The group complained about the “harassment of their spouses by South African authorities, most especially the Department of Home Affairs who they claimed always prejudiciously assume that all marriages by local women to Nigerians are sham and aimed at obtaining South African documents”.  They also raised the issue of victimization of their children at school by other children and school authorities:

``If we don't stand up for our children when they are being called derogatory names like ``Small lee kwere-kwere'' or turning their natives names upside down deliberately by our community in the name of making them feel like aliens, outcast, and unwelcome, or even when their Nigerian aunties and uncles call them bastards, then their future is in jeopardy.

She said the notion that all Nigerians are criminals must be corrected.
``We are in a country of law and order, if anyone is found guilty let the law take its course, we are not saying Nigerians are good or bad, even in the South Africa society, there are criminals and indeed there is no country in the world that does not have criminals,'' Uche said.

In an online chat with The Nigerian Voice Newspaper, Sibongile Nwazulu the Public Relations officer of the organization stated “We are tired of explaining our marriages and being insulted by society, we don’t condone any illegal activities, false marriages and drug dealing. We want to regain the dignity and respect Nigeria and Nigerians deserve”.
She said there was need for them to collectively tackle the issue of some Nigerians residing in South Africa being unfairly separated from their families due to pending residence permit that eventually lead to deportations.

'`If we don't stand up as daughter of the soil and fight discrimination against our marriages who will, if we don't stand up and fight for the rights of our husbands when they are being violated and treated shabbily by officials of the government and citizens alike who will.

The group said that their aim “is to reach as many women in South Africa married to Nigerians, to encourage women to be proud of their marriages and their children to be proud of their fathers and origin. And also, to collectively stand up as daughters of the soil and defend their families against discrimination and prejudice while rightly portraying their families as happy, loving and worthy of respect.

On the future plan and activities of the organization, the chairperson said that, ``After the official launch of our association, our next action will be more than just a protest march to the city of Johannesburg home affairs office, It is going to be a protest where we will strip on the street of Johannesburg, so that people and government will know that there is an existing body and that we are not happy with the way our non South Africans husband and children are being treated.

``We also plan to carry our protest to Nigeria; we know that some South Africans also have businesses in Nigeria; if it is necessary we will take actions that will stop South Africa businesses operating in Nigeria. Indeed we are ready to go that far, Uche said.

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