15 December 2017

Africa: Slave Trade in Africa in the 21st Century?

NEWS dominating global TV networks in the last fortnight has been the exposure of the presence of slave trade reportedly in Libya.

A graphic description by Western News Agencies of an "auction mart" for buying slaves goes like this: "Who is the highest bidder? 800 Dinars! 1,000 Dinars! 1,100 Dinars! "In the end, the winning bid is 1,200 Libyan Dinar - the equivalent of $800 dollars or 680 British pounds.

A done deal; however, this isn't just any auction for a car or a piece of art. What is being sold here is a group of frightened young men from Sub-Saharan Africa." According to reports in the last fortnight, this is modern-day slavery in Africa.

According to a member of the UN Security Council: "To see the pictures of these men being treated like cattle and to hear the auctioneer describe them as, 'big strong boys for farm work' should shock the conscience of us all." Parallel to the crude auction of human beings being sold as slaves is the often-reported wave of human trafficking of thousands of young people from Africa crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe and the United States.

There are normally in the hands of human traffickers who lure these young people into Europe and the United States to play precisely the role of slaves just as those being auctioned in Libya. Most often than not, these young people meet tragedies such as being killed in deliberately arranged "accidents" as reported by Aljazeera midlast year.

Quoting an Aljazeera Online report: "At least nine people died after being crammed into a sweltering tractor-trailer in Texas in an apparent immigrant smuggling attempt. "The driver was arrested and nearly 20 others rescued from the rig and were hospitalized in dire condition, many with extreme dehydration and heatstroke.

"Said a Texas police chief: "We are looking at a human trafficking crime." Clearly, for those who have been watching global TV networks, human trafficking is deeply heart rending- what with these thousands of young people risking their lives across the sea to venture into the unknown having been lured by human traffickers.

Are these "human traffickers" any different from slave traders of the modern day in Libya? Surely, they are one and the same thing. Unfortunately, Libya is today a failed state following the overthrow of the first postmonarchy revolutionary leader, Muammar Gaddafi.

The slave trade in that country could be attributed to the presence of competing groups all claiming to run Libya, which has resulted in such depressing situation prompting the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres to say: "Slavery has no place in our world and these actions are among the most egregious abuses of human rights and may amount to crimes against humanity." He has accordingly ordered all relevant UN agencies to investigate the matter.

For some reason, apparently making ends meet, Libya attracts many young people from West African countries such as Nigeria, Guinea and Ivory Coast (Burkina Faso) where they end up being sold as slaves.

It is for these countries whose citizens end up being auctioned as slaves to re-think about their economic potentials to be able to sustain the lives of their young ones away from their respective countries where they end up as slaves or slavery enterprises for human traffickers.


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