Monday, 4 December 2017


With the slave trade in Libya taking the front burner in contemporary discussions, Otuguor Ufuoma writes on the impact of African religious belief on illegal migration and the consequent enslavement.

Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life – Budda

The above quote by Budda is indisputable as evidenced from religious rites being aggressively performed by adherents. From the bare footed walk by Celestial church goers and salat in jumat(Friday prayer) by Muslims to the door to door preaching by Jehovah’s Witnesses and Image veneration by Catholics, Religion has played a significant role in shaping the ethics, values and belief of mankind through the centuries. This is so much so that even from seemingly trivial issues to serious consequential matters, it is brought to the fore. The recent slave trade miasma in Libya is no exception. Considering the three predominant religion in Africa of Christianity, Islam and African traditional religion, it’s not difficult to understand why.

Muslims are core believers in predestination, which means whatever happens in life is the will of Allah(God). So when migrants set out on this menial journey, they are sure that God will be with them and only his wish will take place. Armed with that doggedness, they are undeterred and determined to forge ahead against all odds. 

Christians like their Muslim counterpart also adhere to the believe of predetermination. They opine that the will of God must take place in their lives no matter what. And thinking that “bad things” cannot come their way even in an adventure as dangerous as illegal migration, they quickly resort to expressions like “not my portion” and “I reject it”. This makes them hit the road without looking back.

African Religious believers also recognize the existence of a supreme being. However, they also contend that other smaller gods have a huge effect on their lives. So they consult these for favour, revenge and protection. With the belief that they are given maximum protection by these deities, migrants move out undeterred.

While the Atlantic Slave Trade can be attributed to greed, ignorance and imperialism, religious belief is here mooted as playing a major role in contemporary slavery. And as illegal migration increases, it is difficult to see an end to the unwholesome and barbaric treatment received by them even when this slavery  becomes a thing of yore like it's 'Trans Atlantic' predecessor.

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