South African women married to Nigerian men have narrated the discrimination they face for marrying men outside their country. Seeing the disaffection their kinsmen show them after finding love in the hands of Nigerian men, the women decided to form an association, the United Nigerian Wives in South Africa (UNWISA) club about two years ago where they give support and succor to each other.
42 year old Lindwela Uche who serves as the chairwoman of the group told AFP that they saw the xenophobic attacks coming and alerted their husbands but they did not take their warning seriously “We saw this thing coming and that’s why we formed this association. If only they (the authorities) had listened to us… they would have known that there’s a fire burning slowly and they would have seen how to tackle it.”she said
One of the members of the association,“Lufunu Orji who is married to a Nigerian resource consultant, Ogbonnaya Orji, says being married to a foreigner is very challenging
“Being married to a foreigner is very challenging. You often spend your time defending yourself and then you defend your foreign husband for being himself. Just before I got wed to my husband, I lost two very best friends of mine. They thought I was out of my mind” she said
Another member of the group who gave her name as Uche, said her 13-year-old daughter returned from school a while ago, complaining that her teacher had told her “not to bring that Nigerian mentality here” after she and classmates were noisy in class.
“We need to be protected, we need our children to be protected… and our husbands to be treated with dignity,” Uche said
37 year old Thelma Okoro, says the attitude towards them “are negative everywhere we go,”. According to her, wearing traditional Nigerian dress on the street can attract bad comments. She spoke of how her eight-year-old daughter gets mocked by schoolmates over her name “Ngozi” which means “blessing” in Igbo but literally translates to “danger” in Zulu.