07 December, 2017


As our young men run out of ideas and patience, feel dejected and rejected due to economic and political challenges in their respective countries there has been an option that has become almost a tradition especially in economically shaky and politically unstable countries in Africa, countries such as Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Nigeria, Malawiv, Gambia, Senegal and others.

The young men and women are left with only this option of “jumping” over the borders for “greener pastures’ on the other side, into other neighboring countries that look promising and more caring for their citizens. Some further try their luck and look beyond the seas and oceans. Most of these young men walk for days and weeks and months through countries to reach seaports where the organized syndicates who make millions of US dollars out of this illicit human trafficking business await them like crocodiles in the dry last part of the winter where the thirsty animals have two options: drink quickly and leave or be a meal, depending on your luck. Most of these young men are paid for by their relatives who managed to cross over and settled in their new refuge countries, mainly in Europe.

The journey from their respective countries to the ports (which are transit points)or cities is a very dangerous and unpredictable one. They risk being mauled by the wild animals as they walk through the parks, risk being robbed by thugs, risk being arrested by authorities for illegally encroaching, risk being captured by the organized criminal syndicates who take advantage of their desperation, force them into slavery and work them for months if not years. Impoverished relatives back home would never know the fate of their children and relatives again. No contacts, no connections. These hopeless and hapless young men are stripped of their rights to liberties, right to protection, rights to dignity and rights to basic needs such as decent shelter, clean water and food. They are tortured, beaten up, work throughout days and nights without rest. Some shot dead for failing to adhere to the draconian syndicate rules. The sick are left in the deserts to die of hunger, heat, pain, exhaustion, wounds, starvation, stress and fatigue, having been tortured first and left dying. The notorious country known this far is Libya. Libya never stopped slave trade.

As recent as 1930 Libyans were selling slaves at five pounds each. Since the unrest that saw the toppling and the murder of the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi ,Libya has been on autopilot. Different portions of the country are controlled by different conflicting militia groups who had together fought the Gaddafi regime but later failed to reach mutual power sharing agreements. This resulted in a civil war that has caused chaos leading to a total collapse of the government. During Muammar Gaddafi era the economy was flourishing, many young men from far deeper inlands such as Nigeria, Somalia,Senegal,Gambia and others therefore used to immigrate into Libya and work for their families? When the Gaddafi regime fell, the chaos that ensued caught these helpless immigrants unawares and without a functional legal and justice system in place these immigrants became exposed to inhuman treatment, captured by the these military gangs and force-worked in the mines for no pay, exposed them to inhuman and barbaric conditions no one ever imagined. The lucky ones who make it to the shores are captured and packed into smuggling boats which are generally not so conducive for public transport, packed like sardines or “ like goats” as the Nigerian president describes it, these human beings face another pack of challenges: due to overloading these ships often capsize and many drown in the sea every year, these people risk infections as they are lumped together for days and weeks with those seeking medical attention. Unbearable high temperatures and humidity become a living hell.

According to the International Organization For Immigrants, about 3000 young men and women died on the way over the past 4 years. And those who make to the other side of the sea face yet another nightmare. They are handed over to yet other syndicates who contact the relatives of these young men for a ransom. If their demands are not met in the “ land of milk and honey.” These people are sold to brothels as sex slaves, raped and some sold as slaves. The untold suffering endured by the survivors leaves permanent psychological scars that traumatize them for the rest of their lives. Some opt never to return back home fearing for the same excruciating experience on their way back after visiting their home countries. Many family members involuntarily break away forever, some never to be heard about again. The unfortunate ones perish on the way, either killed or succumb to natural elements. Surely no sane individual would want to experience that again! The same experience is endured by young men mainly from Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe who are intercepted by the white farmers in South Africa on their way to major cities such as Johannesburg, Durban and Capetown ,who force them work on their farms for months and then hand them over to authorities, without having paid them, for deportation back to their respective countries.

I however want to thank South African government which is doing its best to curb this and we are getting less and less of such unfortunate cases. Slavery is silently happening on many African soils but due to poor policing systems and due to political turmoils in some regions its difficult to detect, identify and terminate and bring the perpetrators to book. We therefore kindly call upon international and regional associations and bodies such as African Union, Arab League, European Union, Commonwealth and United Nations to take swift and immediate actions to investigate Libya and like countries, arrest and dismantle all these syndicates and arrest everyone connected to these barbaric systems and set all young men and women who might be hidden in some farming and mining areas and detention camps around Africa free. The scope should not focus on Libya alone! In Libya alone its estimated that about 400 000 to 1000 000 immigrants are either in detention camps or somewhere doing slave work.

Our challenges in Africa has been lack of political zeal and will to act timeously on matters of human rights and abuse. We have witnessed a number genocides happening right in ours eyes, having received warnings at the right time but our authorities failing to make decisive swift actions at the right times. Investigations last for months if not years. Meanwhile innocent powerless people continue to be exposed to barbarism and atrocities by the greedy selfish powerful heartless ones.

I wish to thank the individuals who selected me for the International Men’s Day L.T. Henry Global Citizen Award which I dedicate to the three very special people in my life:

1) My mother who passed on a month and a week ago, she holds a special place in my life. May her dear soul rest in eternal peace.

2) L.T. Henry who made it possible for me to reach out and be able to communicate and be spiritually in touch with the whole world in a very simple but effective way I ever imagined. May his vision linger on in our hearts and the hearts of the generations to come.

3) Diane A. Sears who has been my mentor under whose wings I feel confident I know I wont fall no matter how tough it is to fly.

May the spirit of L.T.Henry hover all over the world and let it nourish us with peace, love, respect, tolerance, prosperity , hope and coexistence.


Mr. Lethukuhula Nkomo is an educator, free-lance journalist, and Chair - South Africa International Men's Day "Teach Us Peace" Children's Literacy Initiative, and Contributing Editor to IN SEARCH OF FATHERHOOD(R).

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