Black Lives Matter At a Libyan Slave Auction; Do They Know Christmas 2017 Is Near?

As the weather changes over vast areas of Africa from wet to dry, crops are harvested (this is to put it simply). Animals are culled off. Some people are able to sell off animals, crop and household assets to get money they will use for whatever next activity they see fit. That inherent and inalienable pursuit of happiness. For Farah, Kidane, Tyaba, Ochukwuchu, Ongom, and Jennifer the single driving plan was to save enough to travel out of Africa in search of greener pastures. 

Farah, Kidane, Tyaba, Ochukwuchu, Ongom, and Jennifer are a representation of younger Africans who are also breadwinners in their families and communities. They are the ones who are entrusted with the responsibility and have to try all means to sustain themselves and their loved ones. To many, traveling within or out of Africa to search for greener pastures is the option. South Africa has for long been a destination by many. Others look outside the continent. They do this like other humans have done in the past and will do in the future. Travel is part commerce, it is a freedom that improves on one's status as a human being and it facilitates exchanges which improve quality of life. The best example I can give is how travel or mobility in the colonial era improved the quality of life of Europeans or Arabs for that matter.

Farah was fleeing from Congo, had traveled through South Sudan and then through the smugglers’ routes up to Libya. Kidane from Eritrea used the route through the scorching desert, traversed parts of Sudan, Egypt and ended up in Libya with the help of smugglers who had promised them safe passage to Italy and beyond. Tyaba made it from Uganda but first traveled by road to South Africa and while there met Ochukwuchu from Nigeria with whom they worked long hours, saved enough and through the networks Ochukwuchu knew, managed to get to Libya. Ongom and Jennifer came from Kenya and were promised by their handler whom they paid hefty sums, an exuberant life in Italy.  Little did they know they would end up at a slave auction in Libya.

“Allahu….Aqbar.……Baraka Allahu…..Fikum” were words that Farah could fathom. They were among the many words exchanged by people engaged in an excited-but-sometimes bitter bargain for black gold. Black gold, is one of the terms that was used to describe a “bantu” of black people most of whom were between 18 years to 35 years all lined up for sale.

To say lined up for sale reveals so much including there being slave auction structures of impunity in Libya and other African countries. The routes through which people are trafficked, governments with vast investments in intelligence but turn a blind eye on these abuses, as well as other systems leading to younger Africans leaving their home countries in droves comprise what I have termed slave auction structures of impunity. 

The sight, sounds, smells and sadness that abound here are sickening. A young male who lay whimpering from pain had his legs dressed up in makeshift bandages. The story is that he was deeply cut by fence barbs at a border crossing. At another end in this very warehouse were cries from boys and girls. The cries only represented part of the physical pain, hunger, emotional pain and indescribable traumatic experiences. Everyone dreaded what would come next. This particular group was huddled together awaiting the next sale of humans. Imagine that? Africans selling other Africans at auctions and one’s fate was already sealed. Sealed! That is the catchword.

African governments need to come up with interventions at political, social and economical levels. Without these interventions, Africans are exposed to injustices and outcomes including premature deaths. Without these interventions, African governments are complicit,  encourage the sale of Black persons and other related abuses. 

One person who seemed to be the seasoned auctioneer instead was in the name of the trade going on about his business. Clearly, this place has been around and this person must have done this even before the media got wind of it. In a video provided by CNN, the man is seen calling out his wares  “big strong boys,……400 … 700 … 800.” This person, with a callous coldness called out the mounting prices. For this particular group, the men were eventually sold for about $400 each. Eye witness anecdotes, CNN, AU and Zambezi reporters confirmed all this.

Seven questions remain: What led to all this? Why are Blacks treated as subhuman and African governments do not come out strongly to condemn this? Are the young escaping brutal economies from their own home countries only to fall into more brutal and unforgiving traders? What are you doing about this? Are you aware that most of these slave auctions actually have been existing since August 2017? Black Lives Matter but do they matter to Africans? Will the people who cross scorching deserts, venom-ridden scorpion inhabiting arid lands, vast ungoverned lands ever know Christmas 2017 is near? Do something.

NB. Some pictures are sourced from: Google, Getty, Zambezi reporters and many other sources.

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