By Hama Tuma
The ongoing hue and cry about Black African refugees being sold by so called Arab Libyans into slavery leaves me somewhat cold and only increases my indignation at Europe’s indecent hypocrisy. The West, which cries so furiously against the slave auction in Libya, was not only the one which carried the slave trade and benefitted from it in the past but is responsible for the situation in present day Libya by pushing and paying Libya to block the refugees from leaving for Europe . The Libyans got money from the deal and slave trade, as we all know, has been an Arab commercial activity since time immemorial.
Black Africans being sold by Arabs is not a new thing. Modern slavery of black Africans is not a new thing neither. It was not a matter of color as Arab slavery did not function on black or white considerations and the first slaves of Arabs were not even blacks. Libyan racism did not appear now and suddenly–it was there all the time and I had tried to comment on it while Khadafy was alive. Arab racism on blacks is hundreds if not thousands of years old. The white champions of slavery were France, Britain, Portugal, Brazil and the most notorious of all America. Local chiefs are not to be ignored of course. The ongoing sale of black Africans in Libya, today breaking news for the self adulating CNN, is only the tip of the iceberg. African maids in the Middle East have for long been treated as slaves and even murdered without any condemnation being heard against Saudi Arabia. Kuwait, Lebanon and other such countries. Nothing was hidden, there was no secret. But the silence was deafening and is continuing. The murder and organ harvesting of Ethiopian and other maids from other countries in the Middle East was of no interest to many in the West. Many South Sudanese were sold as slaves by the Janjaweed militia in the Sudan but few cared. So called Arabs in Mauritania treated their black citizens as slaves even in the 20th century. Who cared and even how many knew about it?
The hypocrisy is nauseating and stifling. The West hailed Kaddafi when he declared I am your rampant against the African hordes that may swarm your shores. When politics pushed the West against Kaddafi they all united and had him killed and in the process destroyed Libya and led to the destabilization of Western Africa so much so that France and the USA had been forced to send troops to fight against rebels and the ISIS. Refugees fleeing to Libya and defying immense suffering and even death are products of dictatorial regimes (like the one in Ethiopia and Sudan for example) often enjoying the good consideration of the West. Unemployment, repression, intense poverty and misery pushed citizens to dare flee to Libya. The same pushed Ethiopian young females to be victims of domestic slavery in racist Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Arab countries. The regimes that push their citizens unto dangerous exile are of course the first ones to blame like the old African chiefs and the Arab slave traders of the time. The ongoing slave trade and the overall plight of African refugees is fully the doing of Fortress Europe, a product of the desire to keep refugees out and away from Europe. EU countries made deals with Libya to hinder refugees from making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea to the shores of Italy. The French authorities, the frontline destroyers of Libya and master hypocrite that they are, make a lot of noise against Africans being auctioned off as slaves, while they are the main ones who are propagating the Fortress Europe stance. France boasts as being the land of asylum (terre d’asile) while it has locked its borders and had been deporting thousands of Africans back to Africa. In related news Israel, who called African refugees cancer, is paying Rwanda US $4000 per head for every Eritrean, Sudanese and other African refugees it deports to Kigali. Norway deports Ethiopians and other refugees back to their countries despite the fact that this could mean death to them. Who cares?
Libyans selling black Africans is not such a new big deal .We have to stand against it and protest for sure–it is the least we can do. But who are they those we are protesting against? To begin with, they must be our own devils who have pushed us to exile and humiliation and death. And the slave trade. Secondly, those who have prepared the ground for slavery, by denying asylum rights, are Europeans, the same people who fled en masse to America to escape starvation and penury. The Libyan sale of Africans unto modern slavery should not surprise anybody. The Arabs have being doing it for years. Libyans have been doing it for years. Why the hue and cry now? Because CNN pounded it on it to make it its breaking news? Ethiopian and Egyptian Copts were beheaded in Tripoli with not much breaking news accompanying their brutal deaths. Ethiopian refugees in Libya and other places have been killed for organ harvesting, both male and female have been raped, tortured and sold as slaves over and over again in the past. Where was the indignation then? The stink of hypocrisy stifles. AU and EU meeting in Burkina Faso with all those responsible and pretending to care or protest and the theatrics of the brash French President cannot cover up the onerous responsibility of the West in what is happening to refugees in Libya. We are now being told that the French company Lafarge has been paying the Syrian ISIS a hundred thousand euro per month. And Libya is an oil rich country whose cruel fate is linked to the West’s coveting of its resource. Refugees are but pawns, sticks in a wave, play things and, yes, slaves. No news here, just a dog bites man thing.
So why shouldn’t they sell us really? We are their victims and they have utter contempt for us in all fields. Europe made sure we stay put in Libya, financed its brutal police and so called Navy, gave them carte blanche and sealed our fate, Eternal dupes as we are, noise is being made now years after the brutality of the fact was registered in Libya and we follow them to cry no to slavery in Libya.. Israel sells refugees (4000 dollars a head–we are expensive, no?) to a sad future in Rwanda and Uganda but who has heard of it becoming worrying or a breaking news? The condition of Ethiopian girls (maids) in the Middle East is as bad as slavery but the retrograde princes and monarchs are friends of the West and mum is the slogan. Deafening Silence. And we have been burying bodies minus their vital organs for years. All of a sudden the culprits in the whole affair have become the prominent voices against the slavery they promoted and they are expecting us to follow them. Africans have been set up for slavery for years and unless we forget what was Apartheid that was backed by France, the USA, and many others. Africans have been sold left and right for years. So long as we do not redeem our rights why should we expect they will not go on selling us? So long as we fail to liberate our continent the life of slaves will be ours both in and out of our countries being called abeed, kahlusha, nigger barya and more.
The core of the hue and cry is non to the right culprit but then again the ones who paid the piper are the ones selling us unto slavery yet another name for neocolonialism.