OUR FREE WORLD SLAVERY
By Xolani Shabalala
When you think of slavery the 1800s come to mind. Not in your wildest dreams or rather thoughts would you think that in the new millennium slaves still exist- people who are literally defined as objects- possessions.
The world and I were struck with so much excitement as the film by director Steve McQueen based on a real life autobiography by Solomon Northup titled 12 Years a Slave, won an Oscar for best picture. Personally I was filled with joy because it’s a black man’s story, but honestly didn’t realize that we still have this pandemic until director Steve said “I dedicate this award to everyone who endured slavery and 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.” For me that was a very big WHAT! Moment because honestly I hadn’t thought slavery could be a problem in this new free world.
To my surprise the Global Slavery Index provides a ranking of 162 countries which practice slavery in different categories; estimated prevalence of modern slavery by population, a measure of child marriage, and a measure of human trafficking in and out of a country.
According to the Global Slavery Index, Steve’s 21 million is old news. In 2013 there was an estimated 30 million slaves around the world. With Mauritania ranked number one in the index with close to 160 000 slaves in a population of 1,3 million.
It is a sad as well as shocking discovery. Solomon Northup who wrote the book 12 years a slave which documented his life as a slave, says in his book, “I could not comprehend the justice of that law, or that religion, which upholds or recognizes the principle of Slavery; and never once, I am proud to say, did I fail to counsel anyone who came to me, to watch his opportunity, and strike for freedom.”
Such words are not a shock coming from a person who lived in the 1800s and was a slave at some point in his life, but for these words to be said by someone of our age it could come as a shock, reason being most countries have been given their freedom and there are many global initiatives which act on trying to create a peaceful world for everyone.
In a nutshell it’s a sad cry that we have people who still suffer from the systems that were introduced by colonies in the 1800s, and it’s the sad truth that we still have a very long way to go concerning the liberation of our world.