By Taiye Olayemi
As the world marks the black history month, it becomes crucial to address the possible ways out of modern slavery in Africa and most especially in Nigeria.
This is quite significant because this is one of the major issues that has hindered the growth of Africans over the years.
Black history month also known as African American history month finds its origin in the United States through the founding father Carter G.Woodson who feared the poor representation of the black community in history.
Black history month is a celebration of many things inclusive of changing the narratives where the black community tells the narrative themselves; it is a month that basically sets the records straight about the grass to grace story of the black man.
In spite abolition of slave trade in Africa since the 19th century, now in the 21st century, Africans still suffer some form of slavery due to western influences.
This has raised serious concern on when Africans will actually be free from being enslaved unconsciously.
As Africans suffer from this, cases of inferiority complex, poverty, low self esteem spring up, hindering African progress as a continent.
The theme for the 2023 Black History month is “Black Resistance”, which explores how African-Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms and police killings, since the nations’ earliest days.
It is often observed how Africans take pride in western products, subjecting themselves perpetually to embracing such products at the detriment of African nations economic growth.
Modern day slavery in Africa includes exploitation of subjugate population even when their condition is not technically called “slaves”.
Similarly, this can be seen when Africans invest their time to seek improved means of livelihood in trying to relocate to West African countries, abandoning their indigenous languages to embrace westerns’.
Human trafficking is another area of slavery Africans engage in. All the aforementioned practices by Africans have been informed by the high level of poverty still recorded in most African countries, with obvious and significant gap between the poor and the rich.
With indept discussions with major culture and tourism stakeholders in Nigeria, some measures have been suggested to help Africans and specifically Nigerians to be truly free from all forms of slavery.
Mrs Nneka Isaac-Moses, Managing Director, Goge Africa, says Africans can only be liberated from western influences when there is a total mind shift and re-orientation consciously by individual Africans.
She says specifically in Nigeria, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) should be alive to its responsibility of re-orientating Nigerians on the need to maintain their identity.
According to her, the school systems and families also have huge roles to play in ensuring children take pride in speaking their mother tongue, love their skin, hair and everything that identifies them as Africans.
“With respect to Nigeria, I think the National Orientation Agency should wake up, our school system should wake up, and families should also wake up to the reality on ground.
“The slave traders made us believe that our skin tone connotes something negative and we bought into that narrative, that is the reason some people will bleach their skin.
“People take pride in speaking European language and sharing the same with their children and we erroneously refer to our language as vernacular.
“We even get flogged in school for speaking our mother tongue in class.
“Our leaders embezzle our monies and forward it to the West. We feel more comfortable to dress like the Europeans to the detriment of our culture and commerce.
“The West have so packaged and delivered their culture and we have bought into it so badly that majority of us wish to leave Nigeria for the so-called ”greener pastures”.
“Nigerians sell their landed property and export themselves into modern day slavery and end up becoming a third class citizen, absolutely bad, there must be a change.
Isaac-Moses noted that it is important that the blacks in the diaspora retrace their steps back to their root if Africa must be truly liberated from modern day slavery.
She said this can only be achieved when peace and stability is achieved in governance and good infrastructures capable to drive development are put in place.
She explains that African government must be deliberate about attracting the black diaspora by offering them incentives that will attract them to visit, do business and eventually they may be attracted to settle or have a second home in Nigeria.
Isaac-Moses notes that Africans have not done enough to immortalise leaders who worked tirelessly for Africans emancipation.
She suggests that such leaders should be seen and read in history, story books and museums.
She says a remembrance day can be set aside for them, likewise monuments erected in their honour, also movies and documentaries can be made to keep their memory fresh in the minds of this generation and those yet to come.
Also, Mr Isioma Williams, Chairman, Guild of Theatre Arts Drummers (GOTHAD), says to be totally liberated from modern slavery, African leaders must wake up to ensure the continent is well positioned to generate and sustain its economy independently without interference from the imperialists.
He says this can be done by promoting independent African economy and African excellence on all fronts.
He also calls on Africans to consciously cherish their ancestral heritage.
“I believe that we need to cherish who we are and promote our ancestral heritage and values above everything else. We need to be able to generate and sustain our economy independently without any interference from imperialists.
“Our leaders have not been well immortalised, the best way is to teach history in our schools, especially the elementary schools and as well making history publications in both print and audiovisual media available and accessible everywhere, online, offline and in the stores,” he said.
Dr Ferdinard Anikwe, former Director-General, Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC), said without a purposeful leadership in Africa, the black history month will continue to be a mere historical reference.
He notes that African leaders run African political economy worse than the time of slave trade.
“When we become conscencious, consious and concerned about the needs of our people, then we would have come out of slavery and inhuman treatments as meted to us by the white man and our own people,” he said.
Now, Africans individually have to take deliberate steps to be liberated from modern slavery and oppression.