In Libya, a man became a slave today, a strong farm hand for $400. We will never be able to deny that we knew. It could be my brother Eric. It isn’t. A Privilege. Slaves are being sold in Libya. They are black. In 1526, the first transatlantic slave voyage to Brazil was completed successfully. After that, the trade ports were open. I cannot imagine there were any news about this development. Maybe there were, who knows? Today, thanks to technology, we all know that slaves are being sold in Libya and we know just about how much a live human body costs. If you didn’t know, google it. Now. You couldn’t Google things in 1530. You can now.
We may not do anything about it. That is OK. A prerogative. We may not even acknowledge that we know. But we know. And we know that we know.
I have been trying to teach my mother to use Skype. She is not teachable. She refuses to save the sequence of events that lead to a video call, even though some days, she could bite a bee to see my face. But, irony of ironies, my mother performs all her banking activities in her mobile telephone. Being very private about her finances, who isn’t?! She does not need help with mobile banking, medical insurance payments or a myriad other activities a woman, almost seventy years old, can perform on the phone to move money around the world. An open digital economy.
In 1985, one of my friends was born in London. Her grandmother in Kenya did not meet her until seven years later, when they came back to Kenya to visit. Some photos had been sent by snail post during the years. A number of telephone calls were made over the continents in an attempt to create a bond between child and grandmother. Bonds are a strange thing, they are created in the subconscious. My sister in Nairobi had a child last year. Within an hour after the birth, I had pictures of mother and baby in my own telephone. In my hands. In my home. Kisses, hugs, faces, laughter and my siblings’ voices telling me about the new baby. Trying to convince me that the new baby, a girl, had smiled immediately after birth.
Technology won’t sell a human body, just as the gun won’t shoot a running boy. Technology won’t free the slave, just as a scream doesn’t sooth pain. We still have to do the dirty work of mending the world. But, technology is sending us images of slaves being sold. And my mother can move money around in her telephone. A slave will give birth to a child tonight. From cradle to death or to castration? Someone who deserves, who feels entitled, will earn some cash. The future is secured.