On 19th September 2019, over 160 of the Nigerians who voluntarily returned from South Africa in the wake of xenophobic violence came to The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN). They all testified that tensions had significantly reduced after T.B. Joshua’s tearful song ‘Africa Unite’ was released and thanked God for His intervention. They equally acknowledged they had forgiven the perpetrators of the violence and chosen not to respond with revenge after hearing the Word of God on Emmanuel TV.
Prophet TB Joshua and Emmanuel TV Partners gave the group the sum of N12,000,000 ($33,500) – with N100,000 given to each adult and the remaining allotted according to the size of the families, as many arrived from South Africa with young children and many had lost their means of livelihood during the recent attacks.
Here are just some of the experiences of the returnees, recounted in their own words:
“I lived in South Africa with my husband and three kids for several years without any issues. However, on 2nd September 2019, my husband was called that his entire shop had been burned down. He started crying – because we practically lost everything that day. In the ensuing chaos, he was shot with a rubber bullet in his hand and injured. Two weeks ago, I watched personally when the man of God cried on Emmanuel TV. Since that time, the tension has gone down. We believe God is in control.”
“I have two kids who I was struggling to care for and send to school. My husband was shot and killed during a previous xenophobic attack. I own a canteen where I sell Nigerian food but the entire shop was destroyed in the attack. I was very angry but since TB Joshua spoke to us on Emmanuel TV and said we should forgive and not harbor offence, I have forgiven them in Jesus’ name. Since he cried for Africa to unite, the situation has calmed down.”
“Everything was fine in South Africa but things changed recently. During the xenophobic attack in September, my shop was broken into, looted and then set on fire. My house was also broken into and all the valuables were stolen. Because of fear, I ran away. As you see me now, I only have the clothes on my back. I didn’t bring anything with me from South Africa. Watching Emmanuel TV, I saw Prophet TB Joshua crying for Africa to unite and stop killing each other. Since then, the tension calmed down because when he says something, people listen. He is a very powerful, prayerful person. We are here for him to pray for us.”
UBAH OKECHUKWU STANLEY:
“I am a businessman from Imo State. I don’t want to call this xenophobia – I would say some misguided individuals are using this opportunity to loot and take advantage of people, especially foreigners. Several weeks ago, youths were going from home to home, mostly where foreigners were living. They would break in and loot everything. Some unlucky to be there were attacked. Because of this, I was homeless, sleeping on the streets for several weeks. I didn’t even take a shower for over two weeks or change my clothes. Some of us ran into the bush in fear of our lives.
“When I saw Prophet TB Joshua compose and sing the song ‘Africa Unite’, I saw him in tears for the first time in my life. I saw a message of hope, peace, forgiveness and tolerance. Before that song, there was anger within the Nigerian community. We were sending messages back to Nigeria, sharing horrible videos and calling on our people to revenge the attacks. But after that song, I was delivered from that anger, malice, grievances. It was a self-deliverance. I realised our enemy is not the physical appearance but a person without flesh or blood – spirit-beings. The cause of all this is misinformation within the jobless elements but the greatest weapon to fight back with is love. After that song, I experienced calmness in my heart and calmness in the environment we were living in.”
“I lived in South Africa for eight years – since 2011. It started three weeks ago – they were looting our businesses, our shops. My little shop was destroyed. I even learned that three men with guns came looking for me. I lost everything. We watched on Emmanuel TV and were so proud of our prophet when we saw him saying, ‘Africa Unite’. We were all crying with him. When we learned a plane would repatriate willing Nigerians, we said, ‘Let us use this opportunity to come home and then to see the man of God; he is a father of all nations.’
“I lived four years in South Africa; I married a South African and we had two kids. I am a car-dealer. During these attacks, the shop where I had my cars was burned down. More than 10 cars were completely burned in that shop. The salon next to it was also burned. That’s how I decided to return to Nigeria with the Air Peace flight.”
PRECIOUS ‘JOY-OVERFLOW’ TIMOTHY:
“My personal experience is that I went to South Africa to shoot a musical video as an upcoming Gospel artist. During the attack, my husband was seriously injured; he had a bloodied wound on his head. I saw the brutality, anger and hatred but I realise the people perpetrating this are hoodlums, vagabonds and street boys – it does not represent the real South Africa. It was sad to see Nigerians, Zimbabweans, Malawians, Ethiopians running for their lives. We were thankful that Chief Allen Onyema sent a plane to South Africa to rescue us.
“Whilst in South Africa, I saw the man of God weeping on Emmanuel TV. This cry did not go in vain! After the cry, I saw peace on the streets of South Africa. Even South Africans came out and held a peace rally and apologised for what happened. TB Joshua saw what was going, went on his knees and cried unto God. God heard our prayers!”
After receiving the financial assistance, all the returnees were filled with gratitude to God, acknowledging that they never expected to receive such support and thanking God for using TB Joshua to help them restart their lives back in Nigeria.
As TB Joshua said when answering the question on why he shed tears: “What we don’t know is that if we reject people on account of the bad ones among them, we also reject the good ones.”