Slave Trade is one of the most heinous crimes that can be perpetrated against a people. The horrors of the trade in sub-Saharan African people can never be overstated. The atrocities that marked the inhuman trade were barbaric, horrendous and cruel beyond description. It is one crime against humanity that was sustained for centuries. It is for this reason that no other crime against humanity compares to the Slave Trade in terms of the number of its victims.
Congolese historian, Elikia M’bokolo, in Le Monde diplomatique, a popular monthly newspaper, noted that at least ten centuries of slavery (9th to19th Century) saw “…four million enslaved people exported via the Red Sea, another four million through the Swahili ports of the Indian Ocean, perhaps as many as nine million along the Trans-Saharan caravan route, and eleven to twenty million (depending on the author) across the Atlantic Ocean.”
Thus, to watch the television footage of what looked like a slave auction in Libya in a CNN report last week was a replay of a nightmare the world has labored for centuries to forget, but cannot. It is, therefore, appropriate that the African Union (AU) has called for an investigation of this human savagery. The chairperson of the African Union Commission has described the slave auction as despicable and a gross violation of the African Charter on Human Rights and Peoples Rights, and called for an immediate end to these practices and other criminal acts of human trafficking.
The Federal Government has vowed to conduct an investigation of its own, especially since the CNN report said that some of the auctioned persons were Nigerians. Some of the victims were sold for as little as $400.
We urge the government to get the thousands of Nigerians who are stranded in Libya back into Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to evacuate them should be carried out expeditiously. When these people are brought back to the country, the government can go ahead with its investigations.
The Libyan condemnation of the CNN report as an attempt to falsify and dent the image of the country is a familiar ploy of ignoring the message and fighting with the messenger. The slave network in Libya is real. If Libya felt it was a problem, it should have closed it down and jailed the slave merchants. The CNN merely reported what it witnessed.
The global outrage that has followed the slave auction in Libya is a great tribute to the global abhorrence of slavery. Public demonstrations have been held in several countries including France and the United States. Yet, it would be hypocritical to pretend that the world does not know the origin of the slave auctions in Libya. The European deal with a failed state like Libya, to serve as a buffer to shield Europe from unwanted immigrants, was bound to lead to unintended consequences. Libya is today literally a jungle in which only the strong prevail. It is doubtful if any part of the two Libyan governments would be willing to take responsibility for anything that happens in Libya, like the slave auction.
That is the message the Nigerian government should disseminate throughout Nigeria so that anyone who is going to Europe through Libya is aware that he or she is stepping into a jungle where everything, including being sold into slavery for $400, is a possibility.
Nigerians seeking greener pastures abroad must avoid the Libyan route. They should also note that life is not always rosier abroad.