While the average South Africans on the street may be accused of xenophobia on the basis of ignorance, it actually runs deep amongst the elites according to a revelation by Ben Priest, the Nigerian-born lead vocalist of The Lucky Dube Band in South Africa.
Ben Priest, who was recruited from Nigeria after a singing contest to find a replacement for Lucky Dube in the band following his death said he was subjected to discriminations of all kinds by band members but mostly by the fans, who could not fathom why a Nigerian should be brought in as a replacement for Lucky Dube in the band irrespective of his vocal skills.
According to him: “Yes, sadly so. Even when I was supposed to have been well-received and assisted by the very band I worked with, I had my share of being discriminated against. Lucky Dube was a prophet who preached peace and how to live together as one. But unfortunately, his band never practiced what he preached. I was a victim of xenophobia in South Africa. That is why I returned to Nigeria. I only shuttle to South Africa, do my shows and return to Nigeria. I have gigs there regularly but I cannot stay there because I have to be safe first before thinking of the career.”
Inspired by this ugly experience in South Africa, Ben Priest has penned a song on xenophobia which will be part of his new album, ‘Teardrops’, expected before the end of the year. “The song frowns at the idea that an African would refer to another African as a foreigner in Africa. That is nothing but segregation. The song is also calling for unity amongst Africans as borders should be removed from dividing us. In spite of all that happened to me as the lead vocalist of The Lucky Dube Band, I have decided to put that in the past. Once in a while, we communicate and talk about reggae music in Africa. We are also working on collaborations between my band, The Freeman Band and The Lucky Dube Band”.