The return of slave trade
— 16th April 2017
The news is repulsive yet it is everywhere. The slave trade is back and in full swing and as was the case in the past, the Black Man is the article of trade while the familiar buyers remain the same, the Arabs and the white world. It is happening across Arab nations, Asian countries and the western world. The pattern is nearly the same and the treatment not different from what we have seen in films and read from history books concerning similar issue in the past. The story I hear from some of our returnee citizens is both horrifying and very provocative. I have one, who just returned from Dubai and his experience amplifies the dehumanization Black people go through outside Africa. He was lured away from this nation by a family friend on the false promise of a life changing job. For that reason the parents disposed of many assets to fund the trip. He got to Dubai quiet alright and as would be expected spent many weeks looking for a job. He eventually got one but not the dream job he was told while in the country, instead he was employed as a labourer at a construction site. Things were okay up to this point, but a twist came with the employment.
He was invited into a private room and told outright he was a property of the employer; his residence would be in a well-guarded fortress, he had no freedom to go anywhere except the construction site. To show they meant business, the Nigerian victim was forcefully made to surrender his international passport. This year he had reasons to return home but they would not allow him because unknown to him he has entered into a bond. Until one of his friends from Lebanon reported to the police, freedom never came. He is now in the country and has vowed never to step out again. This is just one example of the terrible experiences the Black population especially from sub-Saharan Africa suffers in the world in the 21st century. Before now we used to hear of well qualified Black men and women who left their nations to go to Arab, Asian and the western nations to work as mortuary attendants, home/domestic staff, and cleaners in old people homes. I was in Berlin, the capital of Germany, in a ride in the tube, a white lady who did not know me but who felt I was a Black American asked me a question I am yet to forget. She said: “Why do you people allow your people to be working on the street in such a very cold weather, don’t you have jobs in your countries?” She rephrased her question after I told her I am from Nigeria in Africa. I couldn’t give a satisfactory answer, and as I read this I can say I know the real answers. What I got from the question is that the fate of the Black man outside Africa does trouble some of the exploiters in who the conscience is still alive.
I have watched news broadcasts and seen pictures in newspapers concerning the issue of migrants, and I have seen the concern and empathy put on display by the governments and people in those regions. The European governments even though happy to receive a people who willingly summit themselves for enslavement, they are conscious to show that they abhor the process and the development and this is to avoid karma and the damning verdict of history. Every day we see the leaders taking one measure or the other to stem the tide; they close their borders, employ more coast guards and marshal their naval forces into the Mediterranean Sea in the bid to stop the migrants from coming into their nations, but from the African end there is no response or reaction whatsoever. It is as if what is happening is normal and of no significance. Between Niger, Mali, Chad and Sudan, Black people including Nigerians are subjected to such horrendous treatments that words cannot adequately capture. Some of them are taking through rituals, others beaten and left less than human, and many are killed in the most despicable manner; a good number of those who surmount the huddles to embark on the journey of death across the Mediterranean never make it, they drown in the sea and that is the end of the story. The story of those who succeed in crossing is not better, they get there to find out that like here at home, gold or money is not picked on the streets. They want to work but they find out that it is either they don’t have the skills or the good jobs by law or convention are reserved only for citizens. From this point their frustration and suffering multiplies and the desperation that follows makes them vulnerable to enslavement.
Today the situation has become deplorable. If recent reports are to be believed, these economic refugees are not only being maltreated, they are being sold as a commodity in the market. This situation if it is acceptable to other Black nations, Nigeria should be an exception and the reason is simple: by our size, resources and level of sophistication among Black nations, we stand as the conscience of the Black world. The issue in question is one we ought to show demonstrable leadership, our position should be strong and clear and effort to reverse this ugly trend should be visible. As of now there is none, we are not shocked, we have no position, in fact it is as if we don’t know that the Black man is again walking himself into another era of great evil against himself with his eyes wide open. To an extent I will blame successive Nigerian governments for the level this evil has reached. If we had institutions in place this development would have been predicted and prevented. Firstly, history will show that developed economies are always in need of cheap labour and would undertake policies that would leave underdeveloped ones vulnerable. When they ask African countries to structurally re-adjust, privatize public companies, and charge high prices for services not rendered under the guise of private initiative, they disorganize us by encouraging us to open our nation and embrace globalization when they know we are not a productive nation. Part of the many consequences of induced misdirection is the tendency among the citizens to run away into hell under false thinking that they are going to heaven.
The situation has remedies, the change this time must begin with government, the federal, state and local governments; they must sit down immediately and agree that this development is both a national and racial calamity. Nigeria must lead by demanding that Arab countries, Asian and western nations take a critical look at the migrant situation in their nations and deport those that have no business being there. Nigeria should as a matter urgency get African nations to start actions to remedy the situation through the African Union. Besides leading us to poor economy, the other instruments used to ensure we willingly move into slavery include films, books, general activities in broadcast and print media; we can use same to correct the anomaly. In fact if I am the information minister, we would have films, Nollywood dramas, newspaper features, special project reports and grass root enlightenments to reverse the development.