By Denrele Animasaun
The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul -John Calvin
They say, that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, so who would have thought in the 21st century that, the African continent will be dealing with an evil most depraved, an inquitity, a horror that should have been extinct and consigned to a repugnant past. Instead, slave trade has reared its ugly talons and it is festering and burgeoning in full view and in living memory. Yet for too long, many African leaders and politicians have pretended and choose not to see, hear or speak of this malignant evil.
They continue to live in denial and perpetuate the myth that all is well; of course it is in their own self -deluded bubble.
We have missed out the dictum that what affects one, actually affects the other.
We, as Africans coined the saying that, it takes a village to raise a child, so where is our collective moral compass and responsibilities? Thankfully, these are different times and times are changing. People are more media savvy and information is accessible.
They did not bank on the power of social media, so how could we have ignored this horror for this long? The main media weren’t interested because this was an African issue happening to black people in Africa.
NO, good people cannot stand by and let bad things happen and say or do nothing.
We cannot normalise this sights and ignore the sounds of suffering that we saw on digital media.We must repudiate this inhumane activity and put the mirror firmly to the faces of African leaders that this aberration was directly and indirectly their fault. Unequivocally their bag and theirs alone. They failed to provide adequate basic needs and productive opportunities for the people to enable them to thrive and work their way out of poverty. They have enriched their pockets and improvised the masses. If a society is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members, then, that society has failed to treat its citizens well and it is not a decent and a just society. So it is little wonder, people want to leave.
People have for far too long lived on hope and when hope ran out then most of them, desperately embarked on a perilous journey because they want to improve their lives and that of their family. Libya became the route most take on their long journey towards their final destination-Europe. Many African migrants pay large sums to smugglers to travel in unseaworthy vessels for their passage to Italy.
For this, they live in squalid holding cells in vessels operated by smugglers. Many never reach their desired destinations, thousands die when their boat sink or drown. Some are plucked from the sea suffering all manner of terror and injuries, then decanted to several detention camps or they face years of uncertainty. Those are the lucky ones, the others, they fall into the arms of human traffickers, criminals and slavers.
This modern day slavery’s sad part is people are leaving this country because they are desperate after knowing the slim chances of making it safely overhand still with the horror stories and the racism and assault they face daily in Europe does not deter them and their determination to continue to make others want to come because for them staying at home is worse than taking chances. This is so tragic and waste of human lives. Surely, African lives should count a lot more than this. If we do not place value on ourselves then no one would. That is why many are dying and our leaders do nothing and why should others care?
What makes this poignant is this racist’s remnant of the slavery days when black people were stolen and captured out of Africa to become no more than property and beasts of burden, bought and sold and done with as it pleases the slavers.
The emotional scars remains passed down through generations and those that capitalise on this always espouse the superiority dominance when opportunities like this arises .
The United Nations and the African Union and countries affected by this scandal are slowly addressing this modern day tragedy. It is too little, too late. This should never have happened and never again would one would have thought in this day and age on African soil or anywhere for that matter. Those who survived and are fortunate to be rescued, their living nightmares has only just begun. The trauma and emotional scars goes deeper than the immediate repatriation, it will take years to recover from such horror and it will take patience, understanding and support to recover. The country is not equipped with adequate resources or manpower to deal with the aftermath of the trauma that such people have had to endure. These people need help from the government but also from immediate family and the community.
I repeat, our own African leaders have made such heinous environment possible that desperate people are leaving their homes and their family, to try their luck and their future on such doomed and perilous journey. No one in their right mind would go on such dangerous odyssey if they had a choice or a bright opportunity for the future.
Last week, hundreds of protesters, mostly young black people led the protest outside the Libyan Embassy in Paris chanting, “Put an end to the slavery and concentration camps in Libya.” They are also actively taken to the social media to sign against the Libyan slavers and people smugglers.
Rwanda so far has shown such magnanimity and has offered to resettle some 30,000 returnees regardless of their nationality.In an official statement, the Foreign Ministry said Rwanda was “horrified” that “African men women and children who were on the road to exile have been held and turned into slaves.” And “Given Rwanda’s political philosophy and our own history, we cannot remain silent when human beings are being mistreated and auctioned off like cattle,”
It puts this in context, knowing the tragic past of Rwanda’s history apparently referred to bloodletting in 1994 when more than 800,000 people perished in a genocide, “We may not be able to welcome everyone but our door is wide open,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, the newly appointed head of the African Union, said on Twitter that Rwanda had offered to resettle as many as 30,000 migrants. He said he was “deeply appreciative” of the offer.
PMB said he was appalled by what he had seen, “Some Nigerians in the footage, were being sold like goats for few dollars in Libya,”. PMB, with due respect, has time to deal with the root cause.