A better life elsewhere
Human traffic in and from Africa
The trade in humans has been a part of every known civilisation, past and present. Robert Guest, British journalist and Africa Editor of The Economist, argues that every single one of us alive today is probably descended from slaves and slave owners. And Africa has always borne the heaviest burden. In the 400 years of the slave trade, over 12 million ablebodied men and women were taken from West Africa alone to work as slaves in the sugar, cotton and tobacco plantations in America, Cuba, Brazil and Jamaica. Before that, Arabs plying their trade on the East African coast trafficked millions more to slave markets in the Middle East.
The seven reports provide interesting insights into the trade in human cargo. If there is a common strand that runs through most of the reports published in this dossier, it is the fact that human traffickers exploit the poverty of their victims and cash in on their dreams for a better life overseas. Ken Opala investigated how Kenya has become a veritable nerve centre for human trafficking in East and Central Africa. Eric Mwamba looked at how the allure of lucrative football contracts with top European clubs is making young Ivorian boys and their families susceptible to the machinations of traffickers. Finnigan wa Simbeye found feudal fishermen in Tanzania turning to the modern slave trade to recruit peons for their businesses. The trafficking of Africans through Egypt to Israel was the subject of Magdy Samaan‘s investigation and Musikilu Mojeed looked at the trafficking of children and women in Nigeria into commercial sex and forced labour within Africa and in Europe. Vusumzi Melane and Prudence Mbewu focused on the trafficking on blind people from Zimbabwe to beg in the streets of Johannesburg and Pretoria. Anas Aremeyaw Anas describes how a religious teacher in Northern Ghana sold young Fulani boys and girls into modern-day slavery after sexually assaulting them. Anas’ report eventually led to the arrest of the religious leader, the release of a number of children and a reunification with their families. This just goes to show what a difference investigative journalism can make in exposing illegality and wrongdoing.
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