As many as 70 African migrants perished in the Mediterranean Sea recently when the boat in which they were navigating from Libya to Italy, capsized. The migrants were apparently on their way to Europe for different reasons, ranging from seeking greener pastures, seeking refuge from wars, pestilence, starvation and diseases, escaping from oppressive and repressive governments, to mention but a few.
The massive deaths of African migrants recorded on the sea en-route Europe from Africa, has remained a regular feature for a long time now. This year alone, an estimated 2,800 migrants have died trying to make it to different European countries through the seas.
This gory situation is a reminiscence of the days of the trans-Atlantic slave trade which was officially abolished in the 19th century. Though abolished, Africans themselves have re-enacted the modern slave trade scenario.
During the trans-Atlantic slave trade, trading ships would sail from Europe with cargoes of manufactured goods to Africa. There, goods would be traded for captured people provided by African traders.
The African intermediaries would raid settlements far away from the coast and bring men and women healthy enough to be sold to slavery. During the voyage, the slaves would be kept in ship-hold, crammed close together with little or no space for movement.
Conditions were squalid and many would die on the way. The slaves were destined to work on plantations in Europe, Caribbean and the Americas, in sugarcane and tobacco plantations.
The slave trade may have ended with chains and fetters taken off the hands and feet of Africans, the minds of most Africans are still in chains. Economic, social and educational deprivations, oppressive governments, kleptomaniac government officials, superstition and bad governance continue to keep Africans in chains.
Africans were put in visible chains in Europe and Americas during the Trans-Atlantic trade centuries ago, but today, same Africans are put in economic, mental and psychological chains in their own countries, by their own governments.
Most African leaders prefer to steal and stash the common wealth of their nations abroad rather that develop the economies of their countries to stimulate job opportunities and wealth creation for the teaming young population.
The slave trade era where raw materials (primary goods) were exported from Africa to Europe and finished good brought back to Africans for consumption, still holds sway.
How do you explain the unimaginable situation where a country like Nigeria, the 6th largest producer of crude oil in the world, cannot refine its oil for domestic consumption?
A country with one of the largest proven gas reserves, not being able to produce 10% of its electricity needs? A country where over $380bn has been alleged to have been stolen by its thieving leaders and stashed aboard – a country where, in spite of its agrarian potentials, cannot feed its citizens.
We have a country where the manufacturing sector has become comatose and some of its manufacturing outfits relocating to neighboring Ghana with less than 20% of its population.
How are young people supposed to find jobs, when the Nigerian economy still runs on the production and extraction of primary products? The manufacturing sector which is supposed to provide mass employment has been grinded to a halt, with the attendant mismanagement and outright profligacy in the public run corporations.
Nigerian and indeed African leaders have re-enacted and activated the modern slave trade, orchestrating a situation where young men and women who ought to stay back in their countries and drive the economy, are rail-roaded into a state of eternal hopelessness, thereby prompting them to perish in the Mediterranean Sea.
A voyage to Europe en-route the sea on a piece of an uncertified boat, is the height of desperation youths could exhibit, no thanks to governments that care less if they perish anyway.
African leaders are so calcified in their bid to pursue power and avarice to the point that they do not give a hoot if the totality of the populace were annihilated on the road to their quest for self aggrandizement.
The truth is, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade is here, but this time, it is self imposed.
Clement Ehis Iuleomien wrote from Lagos, firstname.lastname@example.org
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