Slave trade is one of the most terrible things to have hit the world. Slave trade was the precursor to colonialism. Colonialism began after people of the White race who were beneficiaries of slave trade and who ought to look the other way began to protest and push for its abolition. Colonialism that replaced slave trade was not a better option. The only difference in this case was that indigenes became slaves within their environment of origin and it is worthy to note that even in this instance the victim remained the Blackman and worst still his immediate environment became handy for full exploitation by the same forces. When the Blackman became conscious and was bold enough to protest this act of inhumanity to man, the whites gave him independence but then imperialism, also known as neo-colonialism, came in and stripped us of the power to be really independent and that for us has been the tragedy and this has remained with us till now.
It is causing us big problems and dislocations and for sometime a critical segment in our midst has been thanking God that the challenge is one dimensional and with a little more determination, we would scale over it and have a nation that can compete with the best of the developed world. With the look of things it would appear that that standpoint is becoming obsolete, if not totally out of order, in the light of new unhealthy development. There is the increasing unproductiveness of the Black person inclusive of the population in Nigeria, deliberate killing of the spirit of entrepreneurship, increasing inability to manage fiscal and monetary interplay. More than these is the threat posed by the resuscitation of the trade in human beings called slave trade. The trade is alive and kicking and the Black race is being dehumanized and like it was in the time past, the Arabs and the Whites are reaping benefits from all angles. Some make raw cash; others get raw cash in addition to free labour.
I have stopped watching foreign television channels because of what I see of the Blackman on those stations. They are tales of agony and of huge dehumanization, all of them self-imposed. I was in Europe and while having good meals in some of the best restaurants and drinking joints, I saw people of my race milling around miserably and pitiably. The sight was not only dehumanizing it was very pathetic. In one of the nations, old Black men obviously from Africa and may be the Caribbean, didn’t see anything wrong begging for alms from my seven-year old son. It was such a bad situation my son turned to me and asked “daddy, why would these old men be asking me for money, am I an adult or do they think I work at this age?” That was not the only question, the other was “why are these men sleeping in the open under a bridge in this cold weather?” To both questions I had no immediate answer and yet I admitted in my heart they were quality questions, very germane far above the intelligence of a seven-year-old, questions adults and governments in Black society, Nigeria inclusive, should be asking and finding solutions. In one of the European cities I found Blacks working on the streets on a terrible winter morning and a White friend pointed at them and said “Ralph, these are your people, why would they be here to work in this kind of atmosphere, don’t you people have jobs at home?” Questions and questions!
They are truths we must admit; slave trade is back and I insist we admit because a problem identified is a problem half solved, that is if we ever get to solve anything at all. The other point would be to admit that it has been there for too long and as would be expected taking plenty of tolls in both the tangible and intangible dimensions. I will take the case of Nigeria and the deductions can have universal relevance to all Black settlements all over the world. Nigeria is estimated to have a population of about 180m people. We pride ourselves as the giant of Africa; we insist we must be a voice to be reckoned with in world affairs. Above all, we believe our citizens should attract respect. How do people respect you when they know your people are purchasable articles? How would the successive generation of Whites respect Blacks when from infancy all they know about the Black personality is the one that cleans their toilets, kitchens, mows the lawns, works in the morgues, babysits, workers in old people and physically challenged persons’ homes?
We must admit the situation is getting terrible. The Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea have become burial grounds for the Blacks. I don’t know how many of us see the pictures I see in newspapers and on televisions and feel very repulsive. If truly we feel bad, how has our government reacted to what is obviously an obnoxious development? We see it and pretend as if nothing serious is wrong and a few times a government official would react. All I see is a lone ranger approach, one person talking without the force of government. Our foreign policy over the years has lacked clear perception, we stumble from one economic and military issue without any idea what we want from such ventures. We entered Liberia, Sierra Leone and Gambia to fight for them. In the end we had nothing on the table that we wanted in spite of lives and resources lost.
If we know what we are doing, the dignity of our citizens should be number one priority, just as the Western governments do. But because we don’t know, every nation and race including small ones are rising and giving us dirty slaps. Cameroun would wake up and arrest our citizens and bundle them home; South Africa does not repatriate, rather they kill; Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Morocco would arrest and imprison and nobody would talk and because they have come to realize we don’t know who we are, every nation is abusing our citizens including Libya, which was dismantled by international conspiracy. So sad!
Some blame the bad economy; there is some truth in that but not the whole truth. Some of those who move into this self-imposed slave trade had lucrative jobs and businesses, which they abandoned to willfully walk themselves into slavery. I know bankers who resigned to go into this slavery just as I know very beautiful girls, graduates who found their way into slavery, who after decades of residency have neither made it nor have their psychology in place. They are like bats that are neither birds nor animals, yet their activities those places succeeded in dehumanizing them and denting the dignity of the Black person. So the economy is not the basic excuse. Poor governance, yes and this is from the perspective that every society that wants to become great must deliberately introduce programmes to create citizens that would have ability to resist foreign influences and deliberate acculturation attempts. Our nation is too open and our youths have become victims of the paradise they see in movies, that is the main issue and its effect is ravaging everywhere and there is no ideology based reactions from the governments and the media.
Our government, particularly the Ministry of Information (at the federal and state level) failed woefully on this score. Faith-based organizations too have failed woefully. In churches, for example, to get a visa to travel abroad is a big prophetic endeavour and a celebrated testimony. No one asks what the person is going abroad to do! I agree we ought to produce the jobs here; our youths must be catered for, but before then the leaders, governments, faith-based organizations, traditional rulers and parents must know they owe the young ones a big responsibility. By now we ought to know that it is not about location, it is about vision, skill and wisdom.