It is beginning to seem like cleansing Africa of the ties of slavery will be harder than we all think. Taking from a page of history, at the very beginning, slavery was based on racial discrimination.
The link between the economic elites that promote cheap labour and racism which ultimately was the rationale behind slavery is as undeniable as the fact that the sun rises in the east.
However, what is unclear is the rationale behind the 21st century slave trade in Africa by Africans to Africans, safe to call it in-house slavery.
According to Newsweek, the Libyan slave trade revealed in a CNN investigation is a result of United States (US) interference, according to some experts.
CNN released a video of migrants being sold for about $400 in an auction, though there have been accounts of slaves being sold for as little as $200.
The US, as part of a coalition with NATO, launched an operation in Libya in 2011, hoping to save civilians in Benghazi, Libya, who were targeted by Gaddafi’s forces and prevent the “wholesale massacres of innocent civilians.”
Protesters, inspired by the Arab Spring, took to the streets in Libya against Gaddafi, who later sent planes to bomb them.
Kuperman, associate professor at the University of Texas and Austin said: “When you break a state and then don’t stick around to rebuild it, you create a failed state,” the professor, who has written several papers on Libya, added:
“I’m not sure the worst thing going on in Libya is the slave trade.”
However, this gives no justification to emergence of 21st century in–house slave trade.
Research shows that about 700,000 migrants have relocated to Libya as they look for a pathway to cross the Mediterranean Sea, heading to Europe.
Many scholars believe that the overthrowing and killing of Gaddafi led to many of the problems Libya is dealing with today, including the slave trade and it’s unraveling into a failed state.
International Organisation for Migration found that 22,500 migrants have died or disappeared since 2014.
Critics put the blame of whole situation on Obama that his administration contributed to the problem with its 2011 intervention in Libya. Obama himself has acknowledged the issue before, calling it the “worst mistake” of his presidency.
It becomes problematic that even Africans are also buying into this reason. Needless to say that perhaps, the analysis of professor Huge Trevor Roper could be true of Africa, that:
“Perhaps in the future, there will be some African history to teach. But at the present there is none there is only the history of the Europeans in Africa. The rest is darkness and darkness is not a subject of history.”
Although the overt racism of the “Hamitic hypothesis” was repudiated by the academic historiography of Africa, which developed from the 1950s, Professor Ropers shares the belief that
“History is not merely what happened. It is what happened in the context of what might have happened.”
The rationale behind the slave trading in Libya is yet to be ascertained, but putting the whole situation on US intervention in 2011 further proves the likes of Charles Seligman, a British pioneer of ethnography and Professor Huge Roper right with their hypothesis which is over a century old, right.