Africans on Sale in Libya: It’s the 15th Century All Over Again


Sometime last week, I saw a video on an Instagram page belonging to Diary of a Naija Girl (DANG). It was pulled off a CNN report about ongoing human auction in Libya. The young man in the video, Victory a 21 year old Nigerian, recounted his ordeal in the 8 months he was traded until he was able to buy his freedom. It was gut-wrenching.

I decided to do a thorough search about the CNN report via Google, and the results from the search Engine had me angry. Then I watched the full report. From the video, humans are sold as “merchandise”. Humans are sold like cattle and forced to work. In Victory’s words, even while they were doing the work, they are beaten. They were abused. Some died.

I remember a story I heard a few months ago during my Annual Leave, that a woman celebrated after she got a call that her daughter had finally crossed into Europe. At the time, all I could think about was that girl who would have had a harrowing experience. Now I think to myself, was she sold too and forced to work until she could buy back her freedom and escape into Europe? Or is she still someone’s slave in Europe? These questions, I’ll never get answers to.

In many online comments, the judgement were, what were people looking for trying to escape into Europe through Libya? Some said these horrifying incidents will teach people to stay home. But it’s easy to condemn people for taking a chance if it will give them a better life than they currently have in Nigeria. Many of us are online to see and read the stories. The people who are right now saving every kobo to make the trip to Libya are largely unaware of these events. No be who chop belleful dey buy data? They just want to make it out of these climes. We keep saying Europe has its problems, but to them Europe without food is better than Nigeria without food.

Let’s go back to Victory and the countless unnamed Africans who have been or are still going through such horrifying experiences in Libya. The world finally heard about Libya’s thriving human auctioning industry. From all indications, it is an open secret. The UN is naturally appalled because it is violation of the basic rights of man. Celebrities, Football icons are adding their voice to it on social media, calling for an immediate stop to it. Some African countries are acting swiftly to get their people out.

I heard this morning that some 239 Nigerians arrived today from Libya. However more are still in shackles. The Nigerian Government has “naturally” remained silent. “If the rights of a resident alien are violated without proper redress in the state of residence, his home state is warranted by international law in coming to his assistance and interposing diplomatically on his behalf.” (pg 507 of The American Journal of International Law). What is the Nigerian government doing to ensure other Nigerians currently still in shackles in Libya is released and returned safely home? What are we doing to ensure when they get back home, there are effective social welfare programmes to set them up with? Are we calling for diplomatic protection of every one still in Libya? Are there stringent diplomatic measures already ongoing against Libya to push them to conduct a full scale territorial search for those who may still be held in Libya? Will perpetrators be tried?

This is the time for the Nigerian House of Assembly to call an emergency session. The Nigerian government should fix the country so that our people can stop escaping the country. If country good, who go wan run comot? Nigeria is in disarray economically. Social welfare is non-existent. The Nigerian life is not worth a Naira to the government. Make we first comot the dust wey dey our eye before we comot another person own. We need to fix our home. We need to intensify efforts to stop illegal migration of our people. We need to educate the populace in urban and especially rural communities on the dangers of sneaking into Europe through Libya. The government should make it easy for us to be Nigerians. We need to bring back our people while also fixing our home.

Advertisements

Stop It! Writing Is Not “Ordinary”


Today, I’m addressing this issue of Nigerians who disregard writers or writing generally because they see it as something anybody can do. Nigerians need to start respecting creative people especially writers. I know many don’t see writing as a prestigious career but if you love television, movies, music and gaming, then you need to shift your thinking about writing. Programmes are created by writers. The movies you love so much were first, stories on paper. That show you can’t get enough of on TV, were written by guess who – writers. Jenifa’s Diary has a script. The Wedding Party which everyone loved in Nigerian cinemas has a script. Big Bang Theory was scripted. Titanic was scripted too – all by writers. Also, each of these movies and TV material have made and are still making millions of Naira and/or Dollars from sales and rights.

Now let me give you a typical example of my day as a writer in Nigeria.

Client: I need a blogpost on so so so.
Me: It’s 30k o. When do you need it?
Client: 30k ke? For ordinary blogpost?

Shebi it’s “just” a blog-post

Or another example. Let’s call this person Mr. T.

Mr. T: Taiwo I need your help. I’m doing a documentary on markets in Nigeria. I want to submit the documentary video for an International prize. So I need like a script, well-researched o.
Me: Eh ehn! Your fee is so-so amount!
Mr. T: Ah ahn! Taiwo, can’t you do it for free? You’re my person o.
Me: Sir, will I get credit as the writer if you win?
Mr. T: Taiwo, why are you talking like this?

Bottom line, no one wants to pay a writer because “what’s there? Ordinary writing? Everybody can write na”.

Everybody can write. Anybody can copy. Anybody can take somebody else’s note, and write it down in theirs. But not everybody can create a story or write content from scratch on a blank paper. Not everybody can create something from nothing. Not everybody can write out the stories in their heads and make you look forward to more. Not everybody can write a blogpost that is so good, people who read it, and go out to buy the product or service. That is what makes a writer different.

Whatever is written is original content from the writer, it is a product. The writing process is service. So when you contract a writer for content, what you get is product and service. Why then will you say “ordinary writing” or cheapen a writer’s efforts by offering insulting fee for content that will be of economic value to you? How would you feel if as an accountant someone tells you what you do is “ordinary” audit? Would you go to MTN or Airtel asking them to give you free data? Shebi, “what’s there? Is it not to just go on Instagram and like pictures? And maybe Google stuff?” So why can’t Nigerians respect writing and the creative industry? I’ve seen writing job adverts in the Obodo Oyibo offering $2000 a month meanwhile over here to pay a token to a writer “dey hard us” because it’s “ordinary” writing.

This “ordinary” writing has taken a lot of sacrifices, a lot of schooling, years of training, and lots of practise, money and time investment as well as constant development to be this good and for me to remain passionate about it. It is a tad insulting to generalize it as “ordinary”. I may not have a sealed package to show for it but every story or content I put out or work on is a product. Respect the work. Respect writers. Pay our due without cheapening our effort or our work. If you want free ideas or content, do it yourself.

A Happy Ending?


On a street not far from yours, lived an everyday girl, who also doubled as a slay queen and head turner. Under the fading light of the evening sun, with gentle breeze and childish giggles in the air, is a party happening. It is the celebration of a marriage, and there she was basking in the melodious tunes of the party band as it ascends to a climax.

At that same party was a young man who couldn’t take his eyes off the dancing Damsel. He was no prince but was fine enough to be a Demon. “Demon”, her brain screamed in acknowledgement of what she already knew. But her heart was doing the somersault. It was turmoil inside of her. Her feet kept up with the music, unbothered with the war inside. Her face remained lit. LIT!

He walked towards her, letting his feet speak the same language as hers. And together they danced the evening into the night. She kicked her shoes off in total abandon. They weren’t glassy like Cinderella’s; they were just rubber slippers – the kind that women are quick to substitute their heels for after wearing one for hours.
Party bystanders looked on, in enjoyment of the dance romance unfolding before their eyes. “Lovely couple”, they complimented in a wishy tone. A few women were seen throwing evil glances at them. She just stole another brother they could have hitched. She couldn’t be bothered.

As the music took a mellower tune, he looked at her in awe. He was marvelled by her open disposition and the make-up streaked happiness that brightened her face. “I’m Dotun”, he finally said, introducing himself. “Veronica”, she said in a whispery tone. Taking in the sound of her voice, its feathery sound, like gentle breeze on a Harmattan evening, he popped the question. “Do you have a boyfriend?”

The question throws her off-balance. Her heart skips as she gulps in air, stalling for time so she can find her voice.

“No”, she said.

He smiled as an echo of silence passed between them.

Her thoughts: He looks like he is scouting for a girlfriend

His thoughts: She is really beautiful.

Skeptical, almost unsure, like he needed to gauge her next reaction, he said “You’re really beautiful. Are you sure you don’t have a boyfriend? I’m asking for a friend; come, let me introduce you to him. He is a gentleman.”