The Yellow Fever Palaver

By Abdul Mahmud

It was the Brazilian scholar, Donaldo Macedo, who coined the phrase ‘literacy for stupidfication’.The phrase which sadly highlights the inability of a people to interrogate issues, find truth to that which underlines the ordinary.

 The ignorance our people display over subjects of public discourse signifies that inability, without question.

        Democracy represents the collective aspirations of any people. Democratic governments, by recognising these aspirations, work them into a single charter of action. It is the recognition of these aspirations that makes any democratic government representative. This is not the case with undemocratic governments that deny the people places at the core of governance. Through pedagogies that teach the people to look at their own world through the prisms of those who govern them, the people are piggybacked into holes only fit for Tolkien’s hobbits. The journey begins with deceit and it is sustained by manipulation. Our country is no different.

     Just this week, one hundred and twenty-five Nigerians were deported by the South African immigration for traveling with irregular documents. The deportation saga is what I dubbed some days ago on my Facebook wall as the ‘yellow fever palaver’. The outrage caused by the action of the South African immigration is rippling through our country like Tsunami. From our melodramatic legislators to insentient market women, the rage is the same. What stands out is how our people have become beholden to rulers who have never nurtured love for the homeland. Suddenly, they have found wells of love within their hearts from which our people can lap on and find sucour. Finding the truth of what lies beyond seeing is about looking outside of the ordinary itself. Looking outside suggests we unwrap the lies the government feeds into our public spaces for us to reach the core of what founds government’s new found love and uncover the truth of what actually transpired between those deported Nigerians and the South African immigration.

       Yes, one hundred and twenty-five Nigerians were deported. That isn’t all to it. They were simply deported because they presented dubious yellow fever vaccination cards to the South African immigration at the point of entry. Our countrymen and women merely tried out what has become a fraudulent pastime in our country and they were caught out by public servants who take the business of securing the public health of their country seriously. The biometric technology, as one example, that the FRSC clown, Chidoka, seeks to apply to our new drivers’ license highlights the problem of duplicity his men contends with on our roads. Fast forward to Alhaji Maina of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform who is doing a good job using every available technology at his disposal to weed out thieving public servants in the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation who filch pensions of our retired senior citizens. With duplicitous stamps the originality of anything can be faked in our country. So, where are the grounds for the xenophobic claims that South Africa always sticks its fingers up our noses?

        Our government is angry and we are spitting venoms as if international travel is a trip to the backwaters of our dying coastal towns. International travel, like jiujutsu, is guided by the rules of self-preservation. If you don’t abide by the conditions of the visa, you get shipped. Self-preservation, at the level of the nation-state, is about securing borders,preserving territorial integrity, protecting public health.  So, why are we peeved by the action of the South African immigration? Lest we forget, it was an action taken within the bounds of international law.

     The histrionics of the government are perhaps directed at either masking the absurdities we live through at home or the inadequacies of the government, or both. But, why are we not asking our government why we fall into the category of persons required to present evidence of yellow fever vaccination? In a country where public institutions are in comatose, the yellow fever palaver serves our government’s best interest. By spawning anger at the South Africans, the government seeks to hide the elephant in the room.  Can anyone hide the fact that we still suffer from ailments that have been banished elsewhere? Only last week, it was reported in the press that Lassa fever had spread to twenty-two states of our country. That our country has serious public health issues whilst we sit on our hands makes the reactions of our government annoying. The action of the South African immigration points to one truth: all is not well with us.

        When idiots bury their heads in the sand they expose their stinking parts. Time and time again, we are scorned abroad because we tolerate an irresponsible government at home.  A government that infracts on our humanity for the world to celebrate us as the planet’s happiest hobbits is today pretending to fight our cause. Being the happiest half-sized citizens anyone can find around isn’t an accolade we should be proud of, but we are.

      The hypocrisy of our public servants is commonplace. Was is it not in our country two years ago that Governor Fashola forcefully removed non-Lagos state citizens-who he claimed were destitute-from the streets of Lagos, only to abandon them at the city gates of state capitals across our country? Forceful removal (or call it compulsory eviction) has same effects as deportation. And no matter how both are construed, they possess the attribute of translocation of individuals from one point to another. The absence of consent makes both what they are: expulsion. How can one explain the tit-for-tat battle that has quietly raged on between the governors of Abia and Imo states? Was there a national outrage when the governor of Abia state sacked Imo state indigenes from his state’s civil service? And Rochas Okorocha reciprocated by imposing high fees on students of non-Imo state origin in his state tertiary institutions. Are the actions of these governors not more heinous than the action taken by South African immigration? Here, we are talking about Nigerians who are daily buffeted by their governors and governments at home. Still, they want our people to believe that the reciprocal steps taken to deport twenty-eight South African nationals who arrived at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, three days ago is enough to endeavour public officials to our mob and discerning publics. Not that our public officials are interested in being decorated with endearments, nor are they in a hurry to pull away from the verbal gymnastics.  It is a game they can’t quite pull off.

     Literacy for stupidfication doesn’t promote the two nations of unity and purpose that Disraeli wrote about in his brilliant classic, ‘Sybil or the two nations’. If our rulers think allegiance can be secured by having our people sold on to big lies, herded as xenophobic lynch mob searching for anything and everything South Africa, they are mistaken. ‘Every day is for the monkeys; and one day shall be for the banana plantation owner’.

19 comment(s)
Post a comment

did you guys read the full

did you guys read the full article?
The point Abdul was making is valid.We have corrupt and ignorant leaders that are shouting for the sack of it...He is saying deal with stuff closer to home first such as the actions of the state govonors which i clearly pointed out..haba ..

This dumb Aboki writer needs

This dumb Aboki writer needs to develop some self esteem - it won't kill him. People shouldn't treat u like dirt cos of where u come from. Nigeria is officially yellow fever free, which is why most advanced countries in North America and Europe don't bother u with yellow vaccination certificates. The issue is obviously deeper than this yellow fever certificates, which shouldn't be required in the 1st place. Likely the confrontation between the two countries over Ghadafi and AU chair is the real reason behind the SA deportation. As stated by most, SA should have done the vaccinations if they wish, perhaps for a fee, instead of deportations. It's why they've apologized.


I think, from your response to abdul, you are an utter and complete fool and an idiot to boot. What did he do to attract such insult from you. At least he contributed something meaningful and educating on the subject matter. What was your contribution , empty head.


Those that were deported were traumatised (I stand to be corrected, but I heard there were school children going for excursion on that flight), imagine the kind of impression they have now.
As other writers have canvassed, the passengers could have been quarantined, vaccinated and allowed entry once it is proved they have valid visas and passports.
If the SA government remains adamant, I totally agree that our government should set up TB and HIV screening centres at the airports and SPECIFICALLY check the status of SA nationals who seek entry into the country. Afterall, India requires that if you're found to be HIV positive, you would be IMMEDIATELY deported to your home country!
Our fellow citizens should not be ridiculed and we also castigate them for no wrong doing!


Abdul Mahmud I agree with you that our government sold us out, but that's where our agreement ends!
Are you NOT aware that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has for a long time certified our nation free of Yellow Fever?!
That was what our government should have emphasised long ago to the South African government (please note that Yellow Fever vaccination card is also required to enter Senegal, Gambia & some other West African countries), and insisted that Nigerians going to SA should not be required to produce such.

abdul stop chewiing khat!

Aboki logic. Next time ask someone that is well informed to break it down for you. Abdul, I know deep down in you, you were gloating cos no malo was amongst those deported. Now see your stupidity explode in your face.

What is yellow fever vaccination card

It means a yellow card which shows if someone has been vaccinated against yellow fever. Why do we need to be vacinated, to protect us against yellow fever. My question is why do South Africa requires Nigerians to be vaccinated against yellow fever before traveling to South Africa. The only possible reason is that South Africa have yellow fever epidemic which is why they require every travellers to South Africa be vaccinated so as to protect them against yellow fever. If you look at it carefully you will find that it is South Africa that have the problem and not Nigeria. The actions of the South Africa immigration against Nigeria is a clear violation of the prevailing international laws and therefore they should be brought to Account. This is a clear evidence of the pessistence South Africa discrimination of Nigerians in South Africa. Nigeria government should and must respond in the strongest possible way to send a clear message to South Africa that is no longer business as usual.

Silly write up

I have never written on this forum before. But let me set history by writing that your article lacks depth and only attempts to display a non-existing writing bravado. Agreed that our leaders have failed us, there is no hiding game in the yellow fever card saga. Far from it. In case you don't know the issuance of a South African Visa is contigent upon the inclusion of a photocopy of the issued yellow fever card in the application.

It is thus ridiculous that a country ravaged by HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis can be grandstanding over a card it embassy in Nigeria had used in facilitating Visas for the travellers.

We should jointly condemn the act as it is an attempt by the SA auauthorities to ridicule Nigerians rather than string together words lacking in patriotic exergies.

Mahmond Got It All Wrong

I am not used to making comment on this forum but I was compelled by obvious lack of basic procedures of visa procurement and international guides/charters for deportation of other national on the part of the author of this article. Or could it be a classical case of open mischief making? Question- Yellow Fever card pre-condition for issuance of visa by SA, answer is yes; who is better positioned to check if the card is genuine or fake- SA embassy in Nigeria or SA immigration officer in J'borg, answer SA embassy in Nigeria. The questions go all and all, and the answer exposed the obvious lack of understanding of these simple procedures or outright mischief.

Yellow Fever Palaver

For your information, there is a difference btw fake travel documents, which in most cases refer to fake international Passports and fake visas. The punishment meted out to anyone with fake visa or fake passport is deportation,imprisonment or both. On the other hand, presumably fake yellow fever card does not merit deportation, but quarantine. That is why you have the quarantine officers at most airports .nuff said !!

Insulting the writer does

Two wrongs do not make a right. You assumed that the yellow fever documents were not authentic. You were not sure. Thus, even if the documents were fake, the South African Embassy in Lagos should have verified the authenticity.Allowing the travellers to embark on their journey before deporting them based on a flimsy excuse contravened every international standards and laws. And for your record, there is a different btw Visa and Yellow Fever card. Travellers with a fake visa are promptly deported back to where they commence their flights. On the other hand, travellers with a presamably fake yellow fever card are quarantined. So the South African should have quarantined the travellers and ask them to pay for it if need be. By the way, why do Nigerian loathe each others with so much hatred, yet garlands their corrupt leaders?

Mr. Abdul Mahmud 1

I concur with the critique of your article. I don’t think you are an idiot. Thus, except for the abusive words that were used by the commentator, Karma, his critiqued of your article made sense more than what you penned. Your analysis of the event implied that you had a weak grasp of the issue at hand. As an example, just because we have a presumably rogue democracy/leaders does not deny innocent Nigerian their place in the committee of humanity. Incidentally, one of the deportees was a Nigeria Senator. That is the law of “Karma”. That will be another topic for another day.

Mr. Abdul Mahmud 2

Mr. Abdul Mahmud 2

The government of South African affronted the Nigeria government on this issue; their action can't be justified, even if our government is bad or incompetent. The deported Nigerians obtained legitimate visas from the South African Embassy in Nigeria, so the authenticity of their yellow fever documents MUST have been verified in Nigeria by the South Africa embassy, before the travellers embarked on their trip. Alternatively, the

I agree with you Karma except

Mr. Abdul Mahmud 3

The South African government should have quarantined the travellers in South Africa on arrival, if there was a strong evidence to believe that allowing them to enter South Africa will result in threats to public health. Mere observing a document that looks fraudulent does not imply the document is fake or genuine. You need to verify it to arrive at a decision. Deporting the travellers back to Nigeria on a flimsy excuses contradicts every international laws. Nigeria government deserves the right to retaliate back with harsh diplomacy. The action of the South Africa government did not dignify Nigeria or the victims. Your assumption that most Nigerian leaders are rogues, or treats its citizen even worst, does not give the liberty to the rest of the civilized world, to also subject innocent Nigerians to standards that are inhuman.

The Yellow Fever Palaver

Insulting the writer does change the fact one bit. The fact is that a crime has been commited and a punishment has been meted out. People in Nigeria are so used to illegalities that they no more realise that decent societies abhor them. Why should travellers buy health certificates from touts and expect other nations to accept them. I support the action of the SA officials and hope that that will teach others a lesson or two. It is even shameful when our officials are threatening to hit back at South Africa instead of punishing the offenders. Let us learn to do things the way others do them.

Thank you very much Karma!

It is obvious that Abdul Mahmud is suffering from inferiority complex. How can any sane person try to justify deporting his fellow citizens merely because of yellow fever cards! Does he realise the stress those Nigerians must have suffered due to this treatment. Anyway, I am so happy that the Nigerian Government immediately retaliated. I felt very proud to be a Nigerian due to this prompt reaction. I must remind us, though, that we have only deported 28 plus 56 thereby leaving a balance of 41 South Africans to be deported. Useless South Africans! Always thinking they should not be part of Africa

Insulting the writer does

Insulting the writer does change the fact. The fact remains that we in Nigeria are so deep in illegalites that we don't realise anymore that illegalies are wrong and unacceptable to decent societies. Why should Nigerian travellers buy health certificates from touts instead of obtaining them from certified hospitals and expect other nations to accept them. I support the action of the SA officials and hope that that will teach others a lesson on doing things the way others do. I am ashamed of our officials who are retaliating instead of punishing the offenders. The issue is not whether we have yellow fever in Nigeria or not. Let us learn to do things the way others do them.

Yellow Fever Palaver

Can anyone tell me what would happen if you arrived at a USA border post with fake travel documents? Its not simply a matter of fine them or quarantine them. The papers are simply fake, das all. You'll probably be shipped home and barred from ever coming back period.


Abdul Mahmud must be the greatest idiot of the century. He appears too daft to understand the tiff about Yellow Fever. Idiotic Abdul should note, you do not deport people at your country's point of entry. 1- you either demand and verify original yellow fever certificate before issuing visa or 2- Quarantine the person at the airport, administer the yellow fever vaccine and allow them entry after 3hours. What idiotic balderdash is Abdul Mahmud preaching.