The Libyan Slave Trade: How did we get here?

In this day and age when White Supremacists congregate with confidence and pride, a woman with black origins joins the Royal Family and now the Libyan Slave Trade; makes one wonder if we are ever going to get past the age of dog eat dog, society.

We may claim to have progressed in our ideologies, make astounding advances in technology but if we do not care for the plight of our neighbors, then, we are heading, head on, to disaster.

Sometime early this year or late last year, some photos were doing rounds on social media about the situation facing black Africans in Libya. It showed a pile of dead black bodies and some had black Africans held at gunpoint by men in uniform. The photos were sent to warn other Africans about going to Libya.

At that time I didn’t give it much thought. After all, no media was talking about it. Now, several months down the line, other photos have emerged of black Africans sold into slavery in Libya. Several media outlets took to investigate the situation, a report by CNN shows young black African men sold for as little as $400.

It has caused an uproar and mostly among people of color. Had it been a terrorist attack on a western nation, then, people would have come out in numbers despite the color of their skin to speak against the issue. Just a few weeks ago there was a terror attack in Egypt, but not many people came out to take a stand against this vice.

Muammar Gaddafi & Libya  

When Col. Gaddafi was ousted and killed in Oct 2011, there were mixed emotions among the people in Africa. For some, it was the end of a dictatorship, and for others, it was another meddling by the Western Nations in the African Affairs. In my yesteryears, I can recall a feature by one of the local stations on how Libyan graduates were paid to curb unemployment.

Finland also has a social experiment that pays the unemployed citizens a monthly income of $587, in a two-year trial period. The program which selected 2000 random unemployed residents, started in January of this year.

An article by a “Libyan” invalidates many of the claims of what the Gaddafi regime was doing, in the nation. It raises the question of the validity of what the media feeds us and the actual situation on the ground. Gaddafi is remembered for his calls for a United Africa. He was planning on introducing a single African currency made of gold. This move would have eradicated the Euro and US Dollar usage for trading, in Africa.

Guess, the fight against imperialism isn’t over, with the rise of digital currencies that may or may not disrupt the global markets.

An Opinion piece in the Guardian shows that some African Nations voted for the NATO intervention into Libya, specifically Nigeria and South Africa. The then, leaders of the two countries, Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo were at loggerheads with the Colonel. However, the case of Libya revived the diplomatic rivalry between Nigeria and SA.


The Question of Migrants

The western media has been accosted with the outcry on how they depict African Countries. Yes, we are still fighting poverty, hunger, unemployment, you name it, but not all of us live in deplorable conditions. We blame neocolonialism, corruption, lack of integrity, greed, etc.

Though those who advocate and believe in the theory of evolution, claim that Africa is the cradle of humankind, we are yet to reach the heights that other nations have. In search of a Xanadu, many opt to reside, work, or study in foreign countries.

According to the figures by IOM (International Organization for Migration), 3000 refugees have died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in search of greener pastures in Europe. The UN human rights agency estimates that up to 1million individuals are being held in detention centers in Libya.

Since the fall of Col. Gaddafi, Libya has not been able to take charge of its governance. Smuggling and slave trade has now become a lucrative venture for many. Young black, able-bodied men are sold like commodities in an auction. There are claims of getting robbed, raped and murdered, from those in the detention camps.

The conditions of those camps are also described as “horrific.”


Reaction by the People

Despite the Libyan government disputing the claims of the slave trade in Libya, many are spreading awareness on the issue and speaking out on the matter. Several celebrities have added their voices to the cry for intervention and bringing the subject to an end. It is time for the world to know that #AllLivesMatter including #BlackLivesMatter and now, #AfricanLivesMatter too.


How to Help

  • Spread Awareness

Let’s take it upon ourselves to see this issue eradicated. Don’t wait for other people to speak out, your voice also counts. We need to call all international and local bodies to action. It is within their powers to step in. I applaud countries, e.g., Rwanda for extending asylum to 30000 of the Africans stuck in Libya.

  • Joining Hands

In whatever manner or measure that you can, we should try and support the organizations that are working towards combatting the problem. The IOM, for instance, is pushing for the authorities in place to hold those responsible accountable, while demanding the development of alternative detention centers.

It’s not enough to send a donation and sit back, watch and wait. No, we’ve got to hold each party involved, accountable. We should remember that we are dealing with the lives of fellow human beings and time is of the essence.

We should push the UN to address the issue comprehensively.

Well, it’s not just in Libya. There are also cases of black African men and women, lured to Arab nations with the promise of gainful employment only for them to be detained, assigned jobs they didn’t apply for, some are raped, and most kept from returning home.

What are we doing about this? We need to do more to curb cases of human trafficking and especially, recognize that racism plays a significant role in this.

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