Slave trade: Can African leaders step up to the plate?


Some of the immigrants waiting to be rescued from Libya. / Net Photo


RE: “Use practical strategies to fight modern slavery” (The New Times, November 27).

We will never develop our predatory skills to those of their levels, they have too much advance experience for us to ever be able to do so. Think centuries of the genocidal extermination of indigenous people everywhere, of working others to death to enrich themselves, of the slave trade, of colonialism and then feigning to decolonize when the costs of direct colonial control became too high while retaining actual control behind the scenes.

No, their experience at outright cruelty, and also manipulation supported by all sorts of underhand means (assassinations, coups, stirring up internal and sub-regional conflicts and civil wars and, these days, weaponizing our ‘human rights’ – which they themselves violate willy-nilly all the time, and lawfare, and, when all these fail, outright invasions under all any pretext) is just so immense that we could never compete with them in predatory capability.

But, we also shouldn’t because there is no future in becoming as feral as they are. This isn’t a direction I feel like taking, nor I am sure is one many community-minded Africans would want.

What is needed are courageous leaders and courageous citizens who are prepared to face and fend them off no matter the consequences of such courageous stance. For, make no mistake those who have laid us this low will not allow us to arise without doing their usual worst to keep us there.

We also need African intellectuals who are worth the term. Cadres who awaken us to take a stand rather than those who simply wish to be our exploiters’ local compradors as long as they too get their pieces of silver in foreign safe havens and can meantime lord it over the natives. We also need African leaders who are true strategic visionaries, focused solely on working for the advancement of their fellow citizens (all of them not just their partisans or members of their own tribes and clans); those who are disposed to reach out and cooperate with their political rivals in the superior interests of their people; and have the strength of character to face down the predators—both foreign and local—understanding that the terrain in which they have to work towards all this is strewn with landmines, many of which are hard to see.

It is true, all this sounds like we need our very own supermen. The kind of long-standing situation we Africans face of being mercilessly exploited, and suppressed whenever we revolt, and the fearful mindsets such longstanding accommodation to being exploited engenders, requires no less. But the reward of liberating an entire continent and the lasting gratitude of an entire people is no less immense.

Who will step up to the plate?

Mwene Kalinda