THE LIBYAN SLAVE TRADE; African Leaders Are to Blame!

I have been listening to many Africans condemning the sale of fellow Africans in Libya and I dare to say that is a shame that we can singularly wage such condemnations at Libya alone.

Africans always use the consequence approach in addressing problems. When an African gets sick with malaria, he goes for a curative and ignores the preventive cure which makes the illness a perennial problem to his life. It’s like patching a faulty tire when you should just replace it with a new one and get going. We seek pleasure in blaming others for our predicaments when in actual fact, the source of such problems lies in our very selves! It’s a peculiar vogue in African reality that when we have problems, we treat the consequence rather than the source of the problem.

PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter/Los Angeles Sentinel
The issue of slave trade in Africa is nothing new. The Trans-Atlantic slave trade that sought free labor to factories in the West and the subsequent growth in their economies are the benefits Africans are admiring and longing to have a taste of today. The source of such an appetite stems from bad leadership and corruption that has engulfed some countries in the continent.

It’s does not even require basic education to know that Africa is blighted by leadership problem. A typical elite African politician, save few, is reprehensible.  His taste for comfort far exceeds his passion for public service. He justifies corruption by the number of years he suffered to get educated and the many personal responsibilities he has.  He incurs all his personal expenses on state resources and is highly motivated by greed. Unfortunately, the citizens of Africa have tolerated these vain urges from their leaders and it seems to be normal way of life.

When we point fingers at our Libyan brothers for slave trading, do we care to remember that this same Libya was once a haven for job opportunities for Africans? Nigerians, Ghanaians and even Cameroonians were gainfully employed in Libya during the reign of Muammar Gaddafi and there was nothing like slave trade. Today, we blame a battered and fractured Country that does not have a central leadership for the problems we created in our individual countries. Tell me, would all these migrants have risked it all in angry waters if employment and basic amenities were reasonably sufficient in their respective Countries?. If African Leaders had cared so much  and preferred making the Continent a paradise of hope and reliable dreams, would things about migrating to the West be an wild sought about option for these migrants?

Africa needs to evolve especially in respect the ruler and rule relationship. Our tolerance to bad leaders is disgusting. We see our Leaders as demigods doing us favors. We lavishly shower praises on them for the very things they should provide us and which they are paid for by our taxes. We have even thought of them as immortal rulers. We have styled and modeled our political leaders as morally superior to us forgetting that all that exist between us is a social contract. Africans need to look in the mirror and figure out what needs to be fixed. Our many problems are not created from out but within. Most of our leaders are the architect of the several problems we are facing today.

We must not narrow the issue of slavery to physical torture or sale of humans entirely. Slavery, according to the Oxford dictionary on-line is “A person who works very hard without proper remuneration or appreciation” and “ a person who is excessively dependent upon or controlled by something”. From the two definitions; one can best say that Africans and Africa are thralled in slavery. To have a generation of African youths who are jobless whiles their leaders live in luxury is slavery. To have a continent endowed with minerals yet her people are shackled by poverty is slavery. To have a continent that is excessively dependent of foreign aid to function Government activities is slavery. To have a continent with opportunities only realized by foreigners is slavery. To have a continent riffed with incessant conflicts that harms non but the masses is slavery. To have a continent highly indebted to Western nations is slavery. It’s an unpleasant reality that Africa is enslaved by the very things that should make them rich. Africa is poor in the abundance of wealth.

Photo by Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The slave trade of the past and today share just a tiny different of choice; then, Africans were sold involuntarily. Today, they risk death being sold, albeit for purposes of exploitation, than stay hapless and hopeless in their respective Countries . In a recent CNN exclusive report. Nima Elbagir noted that it was unfortunate to know that even the migrants sold into slavery were happy that their dreams of going to Europe was coming true. That should worry and hurry Africa Leaders into getting things done to distract these youths from risking it all.

I am not in denial of the fact that the continent has not produce or does not have leaders of exceptional courage and leadership qualities but I dare to say that many have past and the few in governance can be counted within a nanoseconds of time. The dreams of Thomas Sankara, Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and Muahamad Gaddaff should not be reference points for Africa’s development but be manifested in the daily lives of her citizens. We cannot endure the courage to be poor in the midst of plenitude. Such blindness to opportunities within must be sighted by quality, visionary and servant leadership in the continent.

If we genuinely desire to help and stop the slave trade in Libya; we must first condemn our leaders and let them know their guilt in the act. We must question how much they have done and get them committed to making social and economic facilities accessible and affordable in the continent.

Africa does not need robot leaders to be programmed by the West in respect to what should be done or not. Africa needs a leadership that self evaluates. Accept blame. Takes responsibility and seeks homegrown solutions that works best for her people. We should not seek to address the consequence of slave trade alone without fixing the cause within the continent.

NOTE: The views expressed are entirely mine. They do not, in any way, represent views or opinions of the institution I work for.

About The Author
Sulaiman B. Sowa is a passionate anti-corruption activist from Sierra Leone. He also serves as a member of the International Panel for Ignite The Youth.