Slavery was abolished internationally over 200 years ago so it came as a rude shock to many when a video filmed and produced by CNN reporter Nima Elbagir surfaced both on CNN and on the New Media showing Africans mostly Nigerians being auctioned off as slaves in Libya. In the video, the auctioneer is seen selling able-bodied men as slaves for $400 dollars. This video which has sparked international outrage with condemnation coming from several quarters has only revealed what has been going on in Libya since the overthrow and killing of the former Libyan Leader, Muammar Gadhafi in 2011.
Though he was no saint, Gaddaffi used his power to create a peaceful and prosperous Libya not just for Libyans but for all Africans which prompted many Nigerians nay Africans to settle in Libya and engage in legitimate businesses and pursuits. We also did not hear of slave camps during Gadhafi’s long reign in power but those who attempted to migrate illegally to Europe through Libya were sent to prison. Illegal migration is a crime clearly enshrined both in the United Nations statutes and that of almost all the nations in the world, so Gadhafi merely acted in accordance with the law. He also successfully prevented his people from engaging in atrocious activities against Black Africans due to the well-known hatred and disdain harboured by Arabs against black people. Some have suggested that Gadhafi’s love for black people clearly manifested by his almost single handed sponsorship of the liberation movements in many African countries including South Africa and Zimbabwe.
That is now history as Arabs tribesmen in Libya, Morocco and Tunisia have returned to their pastime 200 years ago of selling black Africans as slaves. Yes, Morocco and Tunisia are also reportedly involved in these dastardly acts though black Africans do not frequently follow that route to Europe so the atrocities perpetuated against illegal black African migrants there are less reported by the media. Historical evidence suggests that more black Africans were sent to the Arab world as slaves than the New World over 200 years ago. Many of them did not make it alive to the Arab world. They were simply thrown into the sea as food for fishes, sharks and other aquatic animals. It is clear that the hatred of the black man by the Arabs did not start today and what is currently going on in Libya is only a re-enactment of what their ancestors did over two centuries ago.
There is really no clear cut solution to the human tragedy currently unfolding before our eyes in Libya. But I will say two things. One, that the European Union and Italy place more pressure on the Libyan Transitional Council to stop this modern-day slavery of illegal migrants to Europe. This can be easily done as the EU currently gives annual aid worth millions of euros to the Libyan Coast Guard-the body responsible for intercepting illegal migrants on the high sea and sending them to detention centres. Two, all countries and international organizations that have condemned the human bazaar currently ongoing in Libya and made promises to that effect should put words into action. They should transcend the realm of rhetoric into the realm of activities.
Peter Ovie Akus,
Ifo, Ogun state