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Subscribing to modern slavery!

Subscribing to modern slavery!

The issue of labour migration legalized by Government is to say the least insulting and indeed a slap in the face of our integrity as a nation; and represents a woeful failure by African Governments and to create employment.

When I listen to the harrowing tales of indignity and abject subjection to the highest degree of brutality and sexual abuse that Sierra Leoneans and West Africans in general suffer in the hands of callous and anti-black Arabs in North Africa and the Middle East, I would rather die an undignified death in my home country.

Sierra Leone is a virgin country with enormous resources to warrant the thought of a government policy that advocates and supports mortgaging our self-esteem and human dignity to a foreign land in the shameful name of providing employment opportunities for survival. I am sure no Government minister would enlist their relatives into such programs of modern slavery and degradation. 

Sending Sierra Leonean youth into the doldrums does not proffer a solution to the perennial problem of unemployment and magnifying economic hardship that has been plaguing the nation; the youth deserve more than being put on the altar of sacrifice.

To me, it is a clear indication that the Minister of Labour and Social Security lacks what it takes to address the labour puzzle in the country; not even the basics of ensuring an enabling work environment. Salaries for civil and public servants and other conditions of service remain as appalling as ever before.

The work force in the country in both the private and public sectors remain a thorn in the flesh of the socio-economic fabric. It is high time the Government focuses on fixing these decades-long lapses in the system and explores domestic and feasible avenues of creating employment rather than embarking on undignified and risky programs for the unsuspecting youth. The potential of our youth largely remains untapped; the Minster should be developing schemes for skills-training to empower the youth to become self-employed and fill the middle-level manpower required for economic growth.

To be a Government Minister should not be seen as an opportunity to merely carry with you an air of importance and frivolously enjoying the comfort of a cozy office and driving in expensive jeeps at the expense of the taxpayer; it is a position to serve, and serve right.

Labour Migration! How much skilled labour do we have as a least developed country to be exported? Rather incomprehensible, is the disclosure by the Minister that a consultant is paying hotel bills for those coming from the provinces before they depart to Dubai. What special interest does a consultant have in our youth to honour accommodation bills? There is something fishy.

The youth are desperate to leave their home country to venture into the unknown because the Government fails to own up to their responsibility of providing jobs. It’s a pity! There should not be any place like home; but now there is a “better place than home.” The journeys are hazardous, risky and unpredictable, whether legally or illegally.

I want to end this piece with the words of former anti-graft Commissioner, Patrick Loch Otieno Lumunba, who said that unlike before, when Europeans came to enslave Africans in Africa, Africans (Sierra Leoneans) are now “seeking to enslave themselves in Europe and America” and African Governments are the facilitators to this neo-slavery. What a tragedy!

By Abdul Kuyateh

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