More than 200 years after the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, people in sub-Saharan Africa are still experiencing various forms of slavery, a political scientist, Prof. Ayo Olukotun, said in Lagos on Friday.
Olukotun made the observation while speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) to mark the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition.
He said that many African countries were still experiencing various forms of slavery, although the trans-Atlantic slave trade ended officially in 1807.
Aug. 23 of every year is designated by UNESCO as International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.
The significance of the date stemmed from an uprising in Haiti, which set out events that resulted to the abolition of slave trade.
Millions of people, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa perished during the slave trade that lasted for hundreds of years, according to records.
International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition was first celebrated in Haiti on Aug. 23, 1998 and in Senegal on Aug. 23, 1999.
Olukotun, of the Political Science Department, Olabisi Onabanjo University at Ago Iwoye in Ogun, said that slavery in Africa cut across many realms, including culture, economy and politics.
“We have to be sober and reflective while celebrating this day. As Africans, we have become blind copy-cats by following cultures that are unknown to us.
“We are heavily indebted to western multilateral donor agencies.
“Even in politics, we as Africans are only imitating the western models of governance without modification.”
The lecturer made reference to the case of physical activities of slavery in Libya, where according to him, open sale of humans are still carried out in slave markets.
“It is sad that people are still enslaved in Libya. Italy also serves as an example because Nigerian girls especially are being used as sex workers.
“Today should really be a day of reflection and sobering.”
Olukotun admonished history departments in tertiary institutions to keep teaching students the history of Africa as it pertained to slave trade.
“The horrors and disasters of slave trade should constantly be taught in history courses.
“As part of the goals of the inter-cultural UNESCO project, the day is an opportunity for a collective recognition and focus on the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of slavery.
“It also sets the stage for an analysis and dialogue of the interactions which gave rise to the trans-Atlantic trade in human beings.’’