By Uche Amunike
Just last week, Nigerians were woken to the shock of the news of one of her high flying corporate executives who was murdered in her hotel room in South Africa. The lady, Mrs Obianuju Ndubisi-Chukwu was, until her death, the Deputy Director General of the Chartered Institute of Nigeria (CIIN). She was in South Africa for a conference and was actually the Nigerian Representative in that conference. The 53 year old Mrs Ndubisi-Chukwu was a mother of two children and was billed to be promoted to Chief Executive Officer in her Organisation in a few months from now. The question then remains, what in the world happened to her? Who would want her dead? A Nigerian? Another African in the same conference? Or a South African? Reports had it that she joined her colleagues attending the African Insurance Farewell Dinner on that fateful day. That was her final appearance before she headed back to her room. Who then followed her as she retired for the night to snuff life out of her?
You know, for some reason, South Africa has always left me with the impression that they are a violent and brutal lot. I remember watching the movie, SARAFINA, as a child. It was a musical movie but it told the story of the struggles of black people during the Apartheid era. It told a lot about the violence in a country that was typically racist. It also showed a very stubborn part of South Africans as a people. The blacks among them were very determined to establish their equality in their own country with their white counterparts. Most of them preferred to be killed than be intimidated by the white folks. As a matter of fact, the young Sarafina who was the lead actress in that movie led a protest in the streets with her friends in order to prove her opposition of the racist government and made her fight for freedom more intense when her favourite teacher was arrested. In all these, she never showed fear of being killed. She was as resolute as ever. She was as fierce and fearless as ever. She was a true South African!!!
Then, I remember the Xenophobic attacks by South Africans when they became uncomfortable about foreigners whom they accused of taking over their businesses, jobs and even women. They felt insecure that immigrants were the reasons why they didn’t get enough jobs given them because the immigrants took all the jobs. Funny enough, they also complained that their women started preferring the male immigrants to them. What did they do? They started killing immigrants. They gave them an ultimatum to leave or get killed. Some were sensible enough to leave. Others stayed back, probably hoping that things would settle after a while. Unfortunately, it got worse and people were hacked to death, stoned to death and even burnt beyond recognition. I remember being traumatized for a very long time as the gory pictures I saw of the Xenophobic attacks were most gruesome.
Now, the latest news on South Africa is that an unsuspecting representative of her country is murdered in her hotel room. The news tabloids made it clear she was about being promoted at her place of work. So, who might the culprit be? A participant that had something to gain by her demise? A colleague who might take her place at work if she didn’t make it back alive? A participant who probably had issues with her during the conference and wanted to get back at her? There are so many questions begging for answers. And I ask again, why in South Africa?
You know, this is really worrisome considering that most career women go for these conferences from time to time. How on earth can we ever be comfortable in our hotel rooms, knowing that it is possible that evil might be lurking somewhere around? Ordinarily, we feel safer when we travel outside the shores of our country. How can we now be the ones who are killed outside those same shores. I have never even heard that a Nigerian was ever murdered in her hotel room here in our country. So, what is it gonna be now? We should start doing a thorough search of our rooms before checking in, and probably, searching the rooms again each time we step out for even a few minutes. Or maybe we should just lock ourselves in after our conferences without generally mingling or networking with our fellow participants. Or, maybe our countries should now assign us security for protection. These are just ideas flooding my mind.
I have taken a long look at the Picture of the late Mrs Ndubisi-Chukwu. She has this calm aura about her and certainly looks accomplished. I have studied her profile and the likes of the late Dora Akunyili quickly came to mind. She has done very well for herself and has thrived in a man’s world. She must have really fought to survive her ordeal, but I guess her assailant was stronger than she was or might have even be armed and so she decided to resign herself to fate.
I thank the federal government for their official statement to the South African government to see that they bring the murderers to book in no distant time. The Red Chambers also summoned the Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa and was asked to explain the circumstances surrounding her death. This, he did but the question marks are still there. I also thank the amiable governor of Anambra state, Chief Willie Obiano, for demanding that the South African government treats this issue with the seriousness it deserves.
The hotel where this dastardly act was perpetrated is the Emperor Palace Hotel. Gladly, they have accepted to release the CCTV footage which will hopefully provide the answers we seek. I still can’t imagine the depth of shock her family must be going through. For their own good, the South African government had better solve this riddle or else, they might never be able to come out of the psychological and emotional trauma they presently experience.
Statistics have shown that the number of Nigerians murdered in South Africa in the last three and a half years stands at 127. That is quite alarming especially if one considers that so many South Africans are permanently resident in Nigeria and yet, feel very safe. They run their businesses happily and are pretty safe with no fear of being harmed by Nigerians. Our government offers them protection. Their businesses thrive pretty well and life is truly rosy for them at all levels. I have this very strong hunch that if it was in Nigeria that a South African was killed the way Mrs Ndubisi-Chukwu was killed, South Africans would probably have started killing Nigerians in their country. Like I said earlier, they are a violent lot. Of course, Nigerians and other Africans will not stop migrating to South Africa because they are a regional and continental economic hub and will keep attracting people from different African Countries, so the earlier they fish out the killer or killers of this young Nigerian woman, the better it would be for both countries and her family. She can’t just die in vain.
I want to lend my voice, through this medium, to the voices of the Federal Government of Nigeria, her home state, Anambra, her family, her colleagues and all well meaning Nigerians to the Sourh African government to do the needful. Her life was cut short in her prime. At 53, she has reached the Zenith of her career and just when she is about to be promoted, she gets silenced for life. I submit that she shouldn’t die in vain. Let justice prevail. Let her blood seek her killers. We can’t do this without the full cooperation of the South African government.
I pray that the soul of Mrs Obianuju Elizabeth Ndubisi-Chukwu and all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace, Amen!