Stop the slavery of Africans

“Anytime anyone is enslaved, or in any way deprived of his liberty, if that person is a human being, as far as I am concerned he is justified to resort to whatever methods necessary to bring about his liberty again.”

These words were said by the indomitable black civil rights activist Malcolm X at the Oxford Union Debate on December 3, 1964.

It is regrettable that exactly 53 years after Malcom X spoke these words and more than one-and-a-half centuries after the abolition of slave trade, this ugly travesty of the black man’s liberty has resurfaced in the North African state of Libya.

Yes, Libya, that land of slain pan-Africanist Muammar Gaddafi!  And yes, Libya is in Africa and is a member of the African Union. We are baffled by the silence of the AU when black Africans are taken into servitude by fellow brothers and sisters from another African county.

And we are made to believe that the slavery of the blackman officially ended in 1865, after at least 10 million Africans were enslaved and transported to Europe and the Americas between the 15th and 19th centuries, as part of the Atlantic slave trade where they were used as labour in sugar and cotton plantations.

What is happening in Libya is a cause for concern and must surely make those who fought against this despicable act turn in their graves with shame. The resurfacing of slavery on the African continent, spearheaded by Arabs, may turn black Africans against fellow Africans from North Africa if there is no political will to tackle this with the urgency that it deserves.

We note that the enslavement of black Africans on their continent has been happening in countries such as Sudan (although Khartoum denies this) and this explains why blacks, who are mostly Christian and animist, broke away from Khartoum to establish South Sudan after a bitter and protracted war of liberation. To this day, the people of Darfur in western Sudan are still fighting against black domination and oppression by the Sudanese regime of Omar al-Bashir with seemingly no end in sight.

We call upon the United Nations, AU and the Arab League to act decisively on this issue.

We also call upon Libyans to stop preying on migrants fleeing poverty in their home countries intending to seek greener pastures in Europe. While we do not condone the actions by the illegal migrants, the AU surely cannot sit by and watch while black Africans are enslaved, more so by fellow Africans.

After all, Libya is in the state it is today because of the very same Europeans who bombarded and pulverised the country to get rid of Gaddafi under UN Security Council Resolution 1973. During Gaddafi’s era there were not so many illegal migrants using Libya as a springboard to reach Europe.

Before his demise, Gaddafi himself had continuously warned Europe against interfering in the internal affairs of his country saying a weaker Libya would be swamped by migrants from West Africa intending to reach Europe for the proverbial greener pastures. How prophetic he was.

Thus the bombing of Libya by Western forces led by Britain and France reduced Libya to another Somalia with porous borders that illegal migrants have taken advantage of to reach Europe. But we condemn the move by Europeans to pay Libyans for enslaving illegal immigrants so that they do not reach European shores. Reports say Italians are offering money to Libyans to intercept migrants’ boats on the Mediterranean Sea. This is despicable, to say the least.

Governments running countries where most of the migrants are coming from should also take the blame for the plight of their nationals.

We have in the past urged governments on the continent to develop their countries and create opportunities for their people.  We believe the lasting solution to ending the enslavement of black Africans in North Africa and elsewhere in the world would be peace and economic development across the African continent.

People need jobs and better living conditions in their own countries and the sooner governments on the continent realise this the better for Africa and Africans.

We condemn slavery in whatever form and this vice must stop now, whether in Libya or elsewhere across the globe.

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December 2017
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