A few weeks ago, there was a heartbreaking CNN news report about young African migrants in Libya being bought and sold as slaves In a secluded area of Libya. Those migrants are part of a generation of Africans and non Africans who leave their native countries for hopes of greener pastures in Europe even if it means taking a dangerous path to get there with the clear awareness of possible danger. It is saddening.
If you have seen the report, it shows a number of Black African migrants (Nigerians, Ghanaians..) being auctioned and sold off in plain moonlight. However this story of human trafficking is only a reoccurrence of what has occured this same year in Libya. Here you can read the story from April 2017 on the Guardian : Here, the article reported in April states that West African migrants ‘are being bought and sold openly in modern-day slave markets in Libya ‘ according to survivors that have told a UN agency.
I’m writing this article to share my views on these appalling stories. First of all, the anger that I felt deep down when I saw the video in November on CNN was unmatched (I’m moved by appalling stories anyway) but as an African myself I was not just angry at the fact that my fellow Africans were being sold off by people in this 21st century and the fact that any country would allow this to happen in the first place, but it is that constant reminder when I see this happening that if the migrants were satisfied, fulfilled and hopeful to succeed in their native lands they probably would have never left.
And that for me, it’s as heart wrenching to me as all the other aspects of this story.
I watched a 2015 Al jazeera documentary some few days ago on the Al Jazeera site titled ‘ African migrants : what really drives them to Europe ?’ as migrants were interviewed by journalists outside a detention centre in Libya, a Gambian detainee explained that despite the dangerous path he was on he would rather die than to go back to his native country. What a shock.
Therefore, with what we have witnessed over the past month and the evident outrage it caused , another very importent question should be: What can be done in our countries to ensure that the citizens see the opportunities that are made available for them to succeed? Or better, are the opportunities even present in the first place? If not, then how can we create them- how can they be created? This question is important to address because with those who are still in detention centres in Libya waiting for deportation and those who were enslaved but now run free , what will happen after they have reached their native lands?
It is likely for me that after some time of innactivity in Ghana, Nigeria , Somali or Gambia many might still choose to travel to again, because the environment remains the same. The only thing that will probably change in their ambition is the difference in journey in order to safely arrive.
I do not make excuses for those who badmouth their native countries day in and day out (oh I know those) and complain about living in Africa when their dreams is to live in Italy, New York or France but there needs to be workshops, trainings and a safe atmosphere that resuscitates the hopes of the people to succeed and find the opportunities available to them in their chosen fields.
Indeed, It is the responsibility of the political leaders to promote the opportunities available, but I believe it is equally the responsibility of the citizens to change their pitiful mindsets and low expectations for what is theirs because of empty familiarity.
Don’t see failure before you have even tried. If foreigners can travel to Africa, witness a need and start a business that caters for the needs of the country’s citizens, the everyday locals should also have the ability to see where the needs are and start companies and jobs where they know their presence, ambitions and skills are needed.
In the meantime, there are many ways you could help with what has and is still happening in Libya with the slave trade, the links are below, do check them.
I also want to add that every news story and documentaries (that you witness on an accurate and verified news site or TV channel) about war, injustice, health and more is real and has to do with real people!
Therefore my thoughts are for the Syrian people having to live in dread and terror everyday, a country they did not choose; for the physically and mentally ill people of Ghana and the activists who still in 2017 are fighting to have their needs prioritised in a country that still does not have disability friendly buildings and roads, and finally my thoughts for the many individuals and groups who haven’t had their stories told (just yet).
Thank you for reading.
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