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African Ingenuity

Remembering Victims Of Child Slavery And How To Put An End To The Menace In Africa

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The transatlantic slave trade in Africa dates back to 400 years. It involved the brutal coercion of young Africans into heavy manual work, primarily by the whites. Children were also forced into labor at very young ages. It had several root causes including racism and poverty. These ‘workers’ were kidnapped and sold to the Americas through the Indian Ocean. Subsequently, many African lost lives due to harsh working conditions and diseases. Consequently, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade was set to commemorate the events.

This day was first observed in 2008. Since then, different bodies have organized events to commemorate this history with different themes. Nevertheless, the general theme has constantly been raising awareness about the danger of racism and prejudice. That’s because racism was among the leading causes of slave trade.

Globally, people observe March 25 as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. This celebration is a constant remembrance of the need to uphold human rights. Also, it seeks to pay tribute to the human rights civil fighters who relentlessly advocate for the end of slavery. These include the civil rights movement by black Americans in the USA. International bodies like United Nations Human Rights Council and others champion these celebrations.

2021 Theme: “Ending Slavery’s Legacy of Racism: A Global Imperative for Justice.”

slavery and racism

Captives being escorted by slave traders in East Africa in 1859. © Everett Collection

The theme for this year’s celebration is a reminder that racism is still pervasive in our society. The case of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are some of the recent acts of injustice linked to racism. One of the outcomes of injustice is public unrest. The case of George Floyd, for example, sparked global protest and raised begging questions. To date, black people in the diaspora are not totally ‘free’. Thankfully, some governments around the globe are taking strategic measures to tackle the menace.

This year’s theme calls for a collective effort to curb injustices that originated from slavery. It forces us to think about the effect of slavery on the victims who often have no voice. Most importantly, it emphasizes the importance of learning the history of the transatlantic slave trade, especially child slavery. A day like this brings to fore the plight of victims of slavery.

How You Can Join the Celebrations

Over the years, different organizations have held events to honor the dead and uphold the celebrations’ themes. Therefore, the Ark of Return memorial was erected at the UN headquarters in New York on 25th March 2015, which marked the day for the transatlantic trade commemoration.

 

Given that most regions are still under lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic is still posing threats, this year’s celebrations will be different. Virtual events have been scheduled for different days and a commemorative meeting for the General Assembly on 25th March. These events have sub-themes such as Still We Rise, which will table discussions surrounding the commemoration. You can take part in these discussions by registering for the events here.

Child Slavery in Africa

Child slavery in Africa

PHOTOGRAPH BY BENJAMIN LOW (Source: Bitter Sweets)

A slave is essentially someone who is forced to provide unpaid or cheap labor under harsh conditions. They often work without adequate food and health measures. According to the United Nations, these constitute an abuse of human rights. It gets even worse for children. Around the world, children are still facing modern forms of child slavery. Young children are kidnapped and taken to mining fields, large plantations, and other work environments.

In the recent past, slavery was viewed as an act of racism by whites. However, today Africans are also enslaving their children. In other words, African children are being enslaved in their mother countries. The most common example is the use of children for cobalt mining in Congo. This has been happening primarily in mines owned by Glencore, a UK mining company.

According to the Guardian, families claim that these children were working in the mining fields illegally. The effects have been high rates of school dropouts and, in some cases, death. If we really believe that children are the leaders of tomorrow, we have to protect them at all costs. The type of training and environment we expose children to now will determine the type of societies we will have tomorrow. This emphasizes the need to end child slavery

Role of International Bodies in Ending Child Slavery

Ending child slavery will call for the collective effort of everyone. Sadly enough, child labor stems from the smallest unit of society—the family. There are regions where children are conditioned that manual work is fundamental to shape them into responsible adults. Thus, they drop out of school and end up in brutal working environments. Consequently, children find it okay to work in quarries and plantations for low pay. This is systemic child slavery.

National Action Plans (NAPs) by the International Labor Organization, ILO African member states have been formulated to end child labor. There are strategies in place to help implement these action plans. For instance, a major concern is creating national institutions that will facilitate the implementation of the NAPs. These objectives were laid down in 2013.

As of 2016, over 40 million people, particularly children, were victims of modern slavery. The number, which has been on the rise since the NAP objectives were set in 2013, needs to drop. This worrying trend is a threat to Sustainable Development Goals, mainly for Africa, according to ILO’s Director-General, Guy Ryder.

How to Stop Child Slavery in Africa

Students in Haiti enjoy some downtime together. Photo source: Lifesong.org

Some people promote child slavery out of ignorance. Educating yourself about the effects of child slavery can help reduce the numbers. The information from useful resources will equip you with knowledge on how to mitigate the source and stop the acts of slavery. A good start would be participating in talks or forums with the objectives of ending the slave trade. The next stage would be educating others. Also, you can lead discussions in your community to steer the wheel of change.

Another effort to stop child slavery could be acting as an ambassador for large organizations like ILO. Since these organizations find it hard to impact on the grassroots level, they could use your help. If you are at the forefront of the fight against child labor, act by joining ambassador programs. Boycotting products from companies that rely on child labor can go a long way.

Lastly, be vigilant of the happenings around you. Perpetrators of child labor are not ghosts. They live with us. Therefore, don’t turn a blind eye when you witness your neighbor maltreating their house help. By reporting to the appropriate authority you may be saving the next African innovator. Tell us, how do you intend to celebrate this year’s International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade?

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