Between the spirit of slavery and ASUU
It is well-known history in the continent of Africa that there was an evil practice called the slave trade. This involved the moving of African slaves to other countries. It has been estimated that about 500 million Africans were taken away as slaves. And our forefathers did it.
Sometimes purely out of envy and as they were capturing and torturing these slaves, taking them away, the slaves were issuing curses on those who did it. The curses were on the heads of the whites buying them and those Africans selling them together with their children’s children.
Slaves were not allowed to wear clothes, they were humiliated, with stocks on their necks joined to each other. The sick ones were thrown into the sea and when they got to the plantations they padlocked their mouths. This evil befell fellow human beings only because somebody has sold them in exchange for a necklace, alcohol or a mirror.
This evil began as early as the 15th century, about five hundred years ago. Millions of Africans were sold by their own people. The slave trade is one of the most brutal and inhuman aspects of the white man’s history. Their only aim is to make money. And having bought slaves cheaply in Africa, they sold them again in America or anywhere they took them to. The slaves were sold at a large profit to slave owners who would now use them to do all the hard work in the plantations.
Sometimes, before they got to where the whites were taking them, they had already emptied almost half of them into the sea because of the sickness of the mind and the body of these slaves. As far as these whites were concerned, the lives of the slaves had no value. But it was their fellow Africans that sold them. As these people were being thrown into the sea, you can be assured that a dying man will issue curses.
They were given poor food and treated in a terrible manner. In the morning, they would wake them up with a bell. If you did not work they would beat the hell out of you. In many places they put them, the stench of vomit and excreta filled the place with rats running freely over their chained bodies. Many people from the families that sold the slaves are now being detained as slaves by the devil. The devil initiated the trade and he is now punishing the members of the families of those who are involved.
It is now clear that the issue of the slave trade is manifesting its spiritual dimension now in our country Nigeria. There is nothing that happens physically that does not originate from the spiritual level. Slave trade is a negative spiritual entity over Nigeria and the whole of Africa. The continent is still grabbling with the negative consequences of the practice. Many towns in Nigeria where the slave trade was firmly rooted and practised are now suffering from acidic poverty and enslavement of their indigenes.
It is from the spiritual angle that this article is looking at the current ASUU strike phenomenon, its causes and its characteristics when compared with the historical slave trade that happened in Africa and in Nigeria in particular. We can see the manifestation of the characteristics of the slave trade in many facets of our national lives. But then who is a slave?
A slave is the property of its owner and works without pay or meagre pay termed slave wages.
A slave is under the power of a master to whom he belongs. He is under the power of a master who may decide to sell him thereby disposing of his person. The master may dispose of his industry and his labour. A slave master may commission other willing slaves to punish their colleagues in captivity. There are splinter groups ready to play such evil roles in any group under oppression. They extend their humiliation to all categories of slaves on the ground without consideration for their human rights. To them, slaves have no rights and can be disposed of at will.
As slaves, they can do nothing and they can possess nothing. They cannot acquire anything but what must belong to their master. So, a slave is the property of somebody else.
Slavery is a practice in which people own other people. When you look at black Africa today, especially Nigeria, you will see the spirit of slavery manifesting in virtually every facet of our lives. This terrible spirit has used the sins of our forefathers to entrench itself into the present generation.
In comparison with the matter of the ongoing strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), some of the features that have manifested show clearly that they closely resemble the characteristics of the slaves and slave masters described above. The slave characteristics can be inferred in the matter of ASUU and the Government.
Academics indulge themselves in extensive academic training for many years that culminated in a tertiary degree or doctorate. That is the minimum to be engaged as a university lecturer.
This long period of training endows them with skills to practise their professions and they are mandatorily recruited from the top echelon of their graduating classes. These make them suitable to be useful for Nigeria in particular and humanity in general. This tantamounts to slave masters choosing the robust and energic men and women from the pool of would-be slaves presented to the whites by their fellow Africans.
Academics are subject to poor slave types of wages. They must be seen but not heard. For the past 30 years at least, academics had to struggle for living wages and a conducive environment to practise their trades.
The such unnecessary struggle for the environment is expected to be provided by their university proprietors. What is more, despite the absence of a standard environment and facilities, the academics produce manpower to service other lucrative segments of the economy owned by the slave masters.
The product of their labour drives the general economy but they must not be seen to have meaningful incomes that guarantee a decent living in this hash economic environment. Their products may be living well, but not the academics. This is typical of the evil treatment given to the slaves in comparison to the excellent living conditions accorded to the children of the slave masters.
It is like slaves shipped to work in the sugarcane plantations in America or West Indies Islands with their mouths padlocked. And in the process of their academic union agitating for improved welfare, the little slave wages were ordered to be stopped so that they can die of hunger and sicknesses and thereby be cast into the grave reminiscent of the slaves of old being thrown into the ocean on their way to slave bondages in America and elsewhere.
It is natural that the families of ASUU members that had lost their lives to hunger and sicknesses in the last eight months (there are scores of them in the University of Calabar and elsewhere) of the strike would be lamenting their losses. It is doubtful if such families will be praying for the modern-day slave masters whose policy led to the untimely death of their breadwinners.
We thank God that the House of Representatives through the good office of the House Speaker Honourable Gbajabiamila has intervened. And their efforts are apparently yielding dividends. We pray that the enemies of ASUU will not put spanners again in the current efforts of the House leaders.
The administrative and governance policies identical to the principles of slavery and slave trades should be terminated forthwith, as Nigeria continues her march towards perfect democratic practices. In the spiritual realms, slavery and its trade do not go unpunished, whether now directly on the heads of the actors or on their descendants up to four generations as the scriptures prescribed.
Ayoola is a Professor of Mathematics & Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration) the University of Ibadan.