Dialogue in Commemoration of Africa Day
25th May is globally celebrated as Africa Day. On Friday 24th(yesterday) however, Action Aid Intl Uganda, a global justice federation working to
defend and raise awareness of human rights; be they economic, social, cultural, civil or political in Uganda. held a dialogue under the theme “Africans not for sale: Stop Slavery and Human Trafficking” and their offices in Kansanga Uganda and this is because 24th coincided or rather as well marked four hundred years (400) since the Abolition of the slave trade. The purpose was to run a panel discussion and dialogue on this theme with one of Uganda’s investigative journalist Canary Mugume as the Keynote speaker. The panel discussion was amidst Mr. Canary Mugume, Honourable Bernard Atiku, Ms.Harriet Kerwegi, Ms.Sarah Kakayi who is the director of Willow International, an organization whose mission is to rescue or come to the aid of Human Trafficking victims, the moderator, and other two Human Trafficking survivors! It was a very insightful session!
“The government of Uganda reported 145 trafficking investigations, prosecutions of 52 defendants in 50 cases, and convictions of 24 traffickers in 2017 under the 2009 anti-trafficking act, compared to 114 investigations, 32 prosecutions, and 16 convictions in 2016. However, as additional details were unavailable, the number of prosecutions and convictions may have included cases of child sacrifice and illegal adoption. The government did not report the penalties assigned to convicted” – US EMBASSY UG REPORT. Download here
The event started with opening remarks and drama sessions with Africa Rising, among other activities. Here are a few proceedings!
Attendees were urged to say no to slavery and human-trafficking.
Action Aid’s country director Mr. Xavier Ejoyi educated the attendees about the organization’s objectives and highlighted that ActionAid is focusing on for priority areas such as
- Girls and women access to social justice
- Community Resilience to climate change
- People’s action for democratic governance
- Leadership and economic opportunities
“The things that push young people to be trafficked start from opportunities.” Country Director, Mr. Xavier Ejoyi further said.
It should be noted that in Arapai Soroti, northeastern Uganda, mothers are actioning their daughters in the market. As if that’s not enough, the daughters often bring themselves to the market and stand at the area where human beings are sold. Here, a potential buyer comes and selects the human/child of his choice. The selected participates in the bargain of how much they are taking her for, and once the agreement is reached, the mother is paid and the girl goes away with the buyer. The parents and children themselves do not ask where they are being taken to.
According to Canary Mugume, the investigative journalist and event’s keynote speaker, who is also the gentleman that made a documentary on human trafficking, the sellers avoid asking the buyer too many questions and their concern is rather on the money.
This is not because they are negligent, but because they do not want to waste the opportunity of a child (mostly girls) being bought. Canary further explains that sadness can be seen in these people’s eyes, but they are so poverty-stricken, the conditions are so bad that it can be seen in their appearance, they are vulnerable, and a mother knowing that her child is going to go somewhere there is something to eat is all they care about. The girls are sold for as low as 50,000 Uganda Shillings, approximately 13 USD. In the same market, you need only five girls to buy a goat, as it costs 250,000 Ug Shs.
In further details by Canary Mugume, the girls that are not being sold work in this market as butchers; they cut the animals, chicken or pigs, and are given a miserable 500 Ug Shs as payment, and as well the intestines of the killed animal. This is to last them all week, to the next market day, which is often a Thursday.
In other proceedings, two human trafficking survivors one lady a survivor of brutal abuse in Oman where she had gone to work as a housemaid and another boy from Rakai narrated their stories of abuse, survival, and how they eventually got rescued.
These are not the only human trafficking scenarios in the country. The ActionAid country coordinator urged attendees among whom were journalists, activists, writers, students, among others to get involved in the fight and instead of scratching the surface, to find out what really probes parents into selling off their daughters in the market area, compelling a mother to give her daughter away to total stranger, at a price of 50,000 shillings. He further highlighted that if the opportunities do not present themselves, then survival for people becomes tougher.
In Mr. Ekiyi’s words, “To see the problem in its wholesome, we need to see the environment from which it springs, in its wholesome.”
In the concluding event and vigil, the attendees each pinned against the walls a sticky note on which was the commitment they had made in their effort to end human trafficking and lit the candles, as a commemoration of souls lost in Human-trafficking, and those lost in slavery. With that, the Kilimanjaro Declaration was pledged upon, and finally a prayer. – This declaration was fostered by Africans Rising, an NGO that’s for justice, Peace & Dignity of Africans.
THE KILIMANJARO DECLARATION goes as below. I would urge you, as an individual or corporation, in the fight against human trafficking and slavery in all forms, to a pledge as well.
“We, the citizens and descendants of Africa, as part of the Africans Rising Movement, are outraged by the centuries of oppression; we condemn the plunder of our natural and mineral resources and the suppression of our fundamental human rights.
We are determined to foster an Africa-wide solidarity and unity of purpose of the Peoples of Africa to build the future we want – a right to peace, social inclusion and shared prosperity.”