Laitan’s Story: Spare Me Your Outrage Over Libyan Slavery – OkayAfrica – I read of Nigerians, Europe bound and unable to pay their smugglers, sold into slavery, forced to perform hard labour, on construction sites, in farms, in houses under the threat of torture or death. Worse, I read of women who, while experiencing similar conditions, had to also face rape at the hands of multiple rapists. I saw the swift condemnations of Nigerians, felt the shock rippling through Nigerian waters, that black people, many of them Nigerians, were auctioned off into slavery by armed Libyans. What I did not immediately read, was the stories of the Nigerians and Ghanaians and Senegalese who were also involved in buying, selling and reselling black bodies in Libya.
For a quick moment I wondered if there was something wrong with me, for not feeling this outrage against “Arabs” or Libyans, this outrage against racist people, this desire to demand that the Nigerian government together with all other black governments send delegations and outrage and demand the release of all our black captives. And all I could think of were the Laitan’s of Nigeria. Enslaved. Chained. Brutalised. Forced to perform endless labour. Many times having no access to education or proper health care.
I thought of the Laitan’s who are illegally made to submit to having blood samples taken from them for HIV and other blood tests by their supposed guardians or “employers.” A colleague once told me about testing a young maid who worked for her and when I asked if this was legal, she was more concerned about the health of her young child than she was the legality of the testing. Nigerian law makes requiring an HIV test as a precondition to an offer of employment illegal.