Migrants from Africa sit at a gathering point in Libya. File picture: Hamza Turkia/Xinhua
Slavery is not dead; and its face is predominantly African. Accusing Europeans of fuelling it or of not doing enough will take us nowhere.

I am a big admirer of migrants. If you have ever used Google, you have to thank co-founder Sergey Brin - a migrant from Russia. If you are a South African, count 90-year-old George Bizos among the celebrated lawyers who defended the Rivonia triallists. He left his home in Greece at the age of 13 to escape the Nazis during World War II. The list goes on.

Migration is a natural animal instinct; and humans possess it to enable us to move wherever we will be safer or more comfortable. In search of better economic fortunes, people instinctively relocate from one place to another.

Birds, such as swallows, migrate between the northern and southern hemispheres annually to breed, among other things. Without migration, some animal species would have become extinct.

That is why the plight of African immigrants dominated the talks when the leaders of the AU and the EU congregated in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, this week.

African migrants have been discussed ad infinitum before. The heightened intensity in Abidjan was due to the slave trade reports coming out of Libya; that country that was destabilised during the Arab Spring.

Reportedly, for as little as $400 (about R5485), the new breed of slave merchants can get themselves the best Africans that money can buy.

Streaming in from all over the continent, these desperate Africans brave the Sahel and then the Mediterranean Sea, hoping to become the next Mario Balotelli, if they do not drown there.

The footballer's Ghanaian parents possibly found their way to Italy via the same route.

Libya is said to channel 90% of the African migrants headed to Europe. It is here that the combination of their desperation, opportunism and greed of the traders conspired to create the crisis that led to the CNN video recently.

Libyan authorities appear to have learned a trick or two from President Donald Trump - in earlier implying that the video was fake news. Analysts proffered different explanations.

Some blamed Italy for causing the logjam in Libya in its bid to stem the flow of migrants.

Others pointed a finger at European countries for the reappearance of a nationalistic anti-immigrant stance. Open the borders, others said.

The AU’s Moussa Faki Mahamat said from Abidjan: "We must urgently save those who are in this (dire) situation, and then together, Libya, the EU, AU and UN, we must think about devising longer-term solutions for the migration issue."

Long-term solution, for victims of slave trade?

French President Emmanuel Macron talked about the urgency of measures to "help with the return of the Africans who want it to their home countries".

Those who want it, we must emphasise.

It was the flight-or-fight instinct that made these refugees leave their home countries. Nobody wants to leave their own to be a stranger in some faraway place among people who speak a foreign language, who will most likely ill-treat them.

Who can forget the death of Mido Macia, a 27-year-old taxi driver from Mozambique, who was handcuffed to the back of a police van and dragged along the streets of Daveyton in February 2013?

I remember asking some Mozambican nationals in Phalaborwa, near the Kruger National Park, how they got to South Africa.

They all talked of a daring march through the reserve full of predators to what they regarded as the land of opportunity.

I enquired what happened when lions came and attacked one of them? Then they would get eaten, they answered without flinching.

It is the conditions from which fellow Africans are forced to run at all costs that the AU must address; not what Europe is doing or not doing.

When all the summits are over and done with, I am curious to find out which other African country will join Rwanda in volunteering to take in those 700 000 fellow Africans still stranded in Libya.

Anything else is grammar.

* Kgomoeswana is the author of Africa is Open for Business, a media commentator and public speaker on African business affairs - Twitter Handle: @VictorAfrica

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media


Why silence on Libyan slavery?

Sunday Independent