I swore I wasn’t going to talk about Libya because I really cannot wrap my mind around the fact that this is 2017 and some people are still auctioning off fellow humans like animals on planet earth.
It’s not like I was unaware that it was happening, it was hearing the stories, seeing with my eyes what evil looked like.
It being a long weekend, I decided to use the work free day to braid my hair. I walked into a random salon. Now if they had not greeted me ‘Aunty welcome, wetin you wan do?’I would not even have seen them.
Three women were kneeling by the side of the shop, their hands up under the scorching sun. I first thought it was some kind of joke, but the owner of the shop sat opposite them, brushing a wig, frowning, muttering under his breath.
‘I want to braid my hair’, I told them, but nobody stood up, they were looking at the salon owner, until salon owner gestured to them to stand up and attend to me.
Their clothes were soaked in sweat. From what I heard of their offence, the women arrived late to work, so shop owner punished them by asking them to kneel down, hands up, (he should have just added ‘close your eyes’ so they know they are back in Primary 2.)
If I had not come at the time I did, each of these women would have knelt in the sun with their hands up to complete the time they were late for.
Later, upon conversing further with them, I gathered that some of them had come from villages in Benin Republic, Akwa Ibom, and Edo state to hustle in Lagos.
How is this shop owner different from the slave traders in Libya?
How do you punish full grown women by asking them to kneel down, raise their hands because they came late to work? What happened to maybe deducting money from their salaries to show them you are serious? Or suspension without pay?
‘Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely’
Give small power given to Nigerians and you’ll see them flexing muscles and demanding, ‘do you know who I am?’
The other day one woman parked her jeep in the middle of the road to buy boli and caused traffic on a free road; she held the road for more than 10 minutes.
When one man came down to ask her to park her car by the side of the road, she told him, ‘if you know who I am you won’t be talking to me’. She remained on the road undeterred, took her time, bought her plantain and other fruits before driving off.
Now, before we start trending hashtags, ask yourselves, the people who work for us; mai guards, cleaners, even office staff, do you pay them when you are supposed to? Are you fair to them?
What of the child in your home, the one you call house help/ sales girl, are you paying her directly for her labour?
Should a child even be working for you? You did not see an adult to employ?
While it is true that the blame for this evil going on in Libya belongs to African leaders who have made this continent so toxic people are willing to go through hell to get to Europe, what about me and you? In what way are we making this slavery culture ‘our own?’
Before you post images from Libya, before you use hashtag and tweet at Abike Dabiri, and Buhari, check around you. Are you enslaving anyone? Your parents nko? Your friends? In your office? In the estate or compound you live in? Is any child being enslaved?
Let this charity begin from home. Let us stop every form of slavery and oppression.