Ever since the news broke about a Slave Market in Tripoli, Libya. There has been a worldwide backlash and anger towards Libya and the apparent failure of the Provisional Government to Stem the tide and bring it to an end.
Perhaps, we need to remind ourselves that Libya is officially considered a failed state after the death of Muammar Ghaddafi in 2011, and has since been torn apart by militants fighting for control and with access to Ghaddafi’s hidden military weapons spread across the country. That aside, its become a hotbed for religious fundamentalists like the ISIS who, alongside the various warring militant groups, can’t make for a cohesive central government that will bring a firm order, structure, and control to Libya.
In the light of this, Libya has become a ferry passage for “migrants” escaping their motherland in search of greener pastures in Europe. Who, are willing to pay whatever the cost for a ferry across the Sahara desert onward through the ocean for a destination called Europe. One wonders, if truly that desire for greener pasture is there, why not go through the appropriate channels rather than submit to a death march across an unforgiving desert and a merciless ocean and hounded by a people who will readily auction you for $400!
But, let’s ask this question, are Libyans truly Africans? Do they associate with the peculiar skin color of Africans? Who are their ancestors?
Libya was originally inhabited by a tribe indigenous to North Africa, called the Berbers between Pre-146 BC to 640 AD. Afterwards, different tribes and conquerors have settled down there from the Phoenicians and Greeks to Romans, to Islamic Arabian Rule, to Spanish Rule to Ottoman Occupation, to Italian Occupation, to the Allied Occupation and to the present inhabitants of Libya.
In essence, Libya has been a “non-colored” country from early 640 AD and their culture has been majorly influenced by the Islamic Arabs who occupied from 640 AD to 1510 AD (840 years). Black Libyans are in the minority and they are treated as outcasts…alienated from the Arab-Indigenous People of Libya. Their plight was further highlighted during the Libyan Civil War that, led to the ouster of Muammar Ghaddafi and his death when it was alleged that he was using Black Mercenary to suppress the protests and fight the oppositions to his rule. Black Libyans were mercilessly hunted down and killed with all the fury of hell.
Majority of the migrants are from West Africa with a few others from North Africa. Most of the migrants’ excuses for going on such an adventure varies from a search for greener pasture, escaping poverty, fleeing from war etc. The question is, what sort of situation is going on in these countries that the citizens are fleeing through a death route to greener pastures?
Let’s take a look at Nigeria. Majority of those in the slave detention centers are from the South-South, South-East, and South-West. And am not sure neither heard of any from the North especially the North-East that has been ravaged by Boko Haram. I watched a particular interview of a chap from the South-South, who alleged he used all his life savings to make the journey and going back home…means he failed and he needs to start all over, while his mates, who made the same journey, are already in Europe. Another fellow, from the South-West, vows never to return home until he makes it to Europe, stating categorically, he would rather die there than be returned home. And the question still begs for answers, what is happening in those regions that warrant the citizens embarking on a dangerous journey across the torturing desert, violent sea and unforgiving Arab-Libyans!
Every man has a right to good and better life, quality healthcare and a good meal. I personally know about 3 people in my circle, that relocated out of the country in search of better opportunities. They are not to be blamed though, it’s the circumstances we have found ourselves in the country, where the average person lives on less than $1 daily which is poor by UN standards. But the truth is, we have dug the hole that allowed our political leaders to bury us in while we are at the same time, serenading them and hailing them with accolades as we are been buried. But does that warrant a death march to greener pastures? the answer is NO.
The problems afflicting our country is not new. When Ebenezer Obey released a song in 1985 titled, “Nigeria yi si ma dun”, the problems he alluded to that would be solved are still relatively the same problems we are still facing, nothing has changed! We still have bad leadership, our healthcare is moribund, corruption is rife and widespread like the unrelenting ants. And you ask, how have people survived? Idris, a Nigerian hip-hop artist released a song in 2004 titled, “Jaga jaga” and he basically complained and sang about the state of the Nigerian economy and poverty with another artist releasing another song, “Eyin Oyinbo e wa fun mi ni visa!” in 2003 criticising the government about the state of the economy and poverty in the land.
As the situation really changed? No. It seems its worse or maybe, we have adapted to the situation hence we “siddon look” and fold our hands waiting for the Messiah that will rise up to save the situation and the country. But a question begs for an answer if people can be resilient enough to embark on a dangerous journey across the desert in search of greener pasture, why can’t they be resilient enough to bring about the greener pasture here in Nigeria? If we can be so determined to risk our lives to cross the unforgiving Sahara Desert, skirt on the edge of slave camps in Arab-Libya, and paddle across the merciless ocean in search of better fortune, why can’t that determination be put to use to demand accountability from our political leaders, ensure we have a sane, transparent running government and build a better society not for ourselves alone, but for our children.
I watched the video of a young fellow, of which am sure he must be a Nigerian, bound hands and feet and gagged, stabbed 22 times and then beating to death with a plank of wood and a rod of iron. A pretty Edo lady forced to drink urine after been brutally raped and the stories are appalling and bone-chilling. 26 young ladies Ladies where buried in Spain after their corpses were fetched from the sea, where they had been dumped after been raped, assaulted and then finally killed. The Sahara Desert is replete with corpses of unfortunate wannabe migrants, who dared to forge a path for themselves but succumbed to the unforgiving desert when she feted them with burning heat, unquenchable thirst, and raging sandstorms. The Mediterranean sea, can’t have enough of migrant shipwrecks, and deaths. It’s really appalling what a fellow man does to his fellow man in the name of making money. But, its the way the world rolls…its a dog eat dog world, only the fit will survive. (And that is really a horseshit!).
It is understandable when refugees from war torn areas such as Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and even Boko Haram crisis infected areas, choose the Saharan route over gun and bomb blasts at home, but for an economic migrant to invest millions of naira into a journey of no return? It surely speaks volumes, and I shuddered in disbelief as one of the victims with a Yoruba sounding name on CNN claimed he would rather die than return to his home town in Ogun State. I try to imagine what could be going on in Ogun State that would inspire such desperation.
So who is to blame for this? The Arab-Libyans who don’t regard themselves as Africans but were just unfortunate to be on the map of Africa? The Government of Nigeria and the other Nationals who failed to do enough to make the standard of living better for their citizens? Or the Citizens themselves, who failed to go via a legitimate way if they really want out of the country, but choose to follow the path of dishonor and debasement of human dignity.
In the words of Kayode Ogundamisi, “I acknowledge that Nigeria is not an outstanding place to be in, and a number of us migrated years back as a matter of choice, but that choice does not include subjecting ourselves to indignity in a slave camp. As I write this piece, another set of Nigerians are probably on their way to the land of no return; they may have watched the CNN expose but still decide to ignore the danger, as the only image they see is that of a neighbour who left a few years back who is now ‘doing well’ in Europe…..The new set of victims are propelled by the Nigerian lingo that “it is not my portion”, and it is only when death comes staring at them during the journey that they know danger does not understand Nigerian lingos or our religious mumbo-jumbo”.
Who really is to blame, the answer my friends is blowing in the wind