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2018: The re-enslavement of black people

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The New Year is usually ushered in with a lot of resolutions, both on the personal and wider levels, most of which, unfortunately, will not be kept or honoured, as well as all sorts of predictions for the upcoming year, many of which will be wide of target by year end. In spite of this, it is more than useful to set such targets as guides to improved actions, even if we do not always succeed in matching intentions with accomplishments.

Each year brings with it new challenges, which seem to become more formidable year by year. The rapid advance of the technological revolution has resulted in greatly increased expectations, especially among the younger generations. Even in the most poverty-stricken countries and regions, people are no longer willing to accept the conditions of their oppression and suffering and the ever-swelling human population places greater pressure on the limited global resources. Economic growth alone cannot match expectations for a better standard of living, and the issues of poverty and inequality cry out for immediate attention and redress.

Those in leadership and positions of power – political, economic and social – are being forced to address these matters. On a global scale they have not been doing a good job of it. Perhaps the best illustration of this is the abandonment of responsibility for stewardship over the world’s resources, ensuring the preservation of the environment and a safe and sustainable future for generations to come. In the face of clear evidence to the contrary, not only are supposedly “responsible” persons in positions of power, political and economic, continuing to deny the destructive manifestations of climate change, but policies are being implemented which put profits and the absurd enrichment of a few above the welfare of billions of others and the environment in which we live.

While we glibly repeated slogans of “Peace in the world” at Christmas, the threat of nuclear wipe-out on a global scale remained dangling over our heads, as two unstable leaders bragged, in irresponsible and childlike manner, about their “nuclear buttons” and which would be more destructive. It seemed not to matter that the entire world would suffer the consequences.

On a positive note, the global economy continued to recover from the economic collapse of a decade ago, but hundreds of millions, indeed billions the world over, are not enjoying that recovery. The much-touted “war on poverty”, is clearly not being fought with the same conviction or intensity as the wars being waged in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the globe. Millions are being made homeless daily by these conflicts and hundreds of millions continue to wallow in poverty and hunger.

Perhaps, and certainly for us in the Caribbean, the most outrageous and unacceptable indication of the direction in which the world is heading, is the re-emergence of the greatest scourge in human history, the enslavement of black people in Africa. Yes, less than two centuries after this criminal abomination was legally ended, black people are being bought and sold in slave auctions in Libya. They are being transported in conditions similar to the dreaded “Middle Passage” endured by our forebears and being forced into unpaid labour.

How could this happen in a world with leaders of 53 African states, with 15 Caribbean countries, all of whom experienced African slavery, and with millions of black people in the USA, the immediate past president of which was a black man? Why is there no massive outcry, no outrage about this? We follow those who profess to be so concerned about “human trafficking”, but in reality use it as an excuse to further pressure developing nations.

Do we not see this as not merely a return to the darkest days of the nineteenth century, but as an affront to black people everywhere? Why are our collective voices not being heard on this? Should this not be one of our major talking and rallying points in 2018? (To be continued)

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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