Report: Kamala Harris’s Ancestors Owned Slaves, Too

The ancestors of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) owned slaves — according to her father, Stanford University economics professor Donald Harris.

The information was reported Wednesday by the Washington Free Beacon, citing a genealogical report written by Harris’s father, Stanford University economics professor Donald Harris.

The Free Beacon noted:

Donald Harris, a Stanford University economics professor, revealed in 2018 that his grandmother was a descendant of Hamilton Brown, the namesake of Brown’s Town in northern Jamaica.

“My roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (née Christiana Brown, descendant of Hamilton Brown who is on record as plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown’s Town),” he wrote in a post for Jamaica Global.

A research archive of Jamaican records indicate that at one point in 1817, Hamilton Brown owned scores of slaves. The majority were brought in from Africa, though he also owned many Creole slaves.

Harris is among the leading contenders for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. If elected next year, she would become the first black female president — and the first Asian-American president, she has claimed, based on her mother’s Indian origins.

NBC News reported Monday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was descended from slave owners.

In a report titled “Sen. Mitch McConnell’s great-great-grandfathers owned 14 slaves, bringing reparations issue close to home,” NBC noted:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said recently he opposes paying government reparations to the descendants of American slaves, has a family history deeply entwined in the issue: Two of his great-great-grandfathers were slave owners, U.S. census records show.

The two great-great-grandfathers, James McConnell and Richard Daley, owned a total of at least 14 slaves in Limestone County, Alabama — all but two of them female, according to the county “Slave Schedules” in the 1850 and 1860 censuses.

In his defense, McConnell noted that former President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president, had ancestors on his mother’s side who were slave owners.
The New York Post reported that McConnell also noted that Obama also opposed reparations.

Kente Cloth Worn By Democrats Was ‘Historically Worn’ By African Empire Involved In Slave Trade, Fact Checker Says

A top mainstream fact-checker wrote on Tuesday that the Kente cloths that Democrats wore earlier this month after the death of George Floyd were “historically worn” by an “empire involved in [the] West African slave trade.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, and other top Democrats wore the cloth to an event on June 8 in response to Floyd’s death, which was widely criticized online.

I had to say something about the American politicians shameless and ignorantly using the Kente fabric as a prop in their virtue signaling.

*I’m usually more mild mannered than this so please forgive me, I’m upset.

USA Today fact-checked the following statement from a Facebook user:

Yesterday the Democrats wore kente scarfs and knelt down for their photo op. So check this out, Kente cloth was worn by the Ashanti. It’s made of silk so the affluent wore it. The Ashanti were also known as slave owners and traders. Huh? … This makes me wonder why they chose to wear this particular tribe’s garb.

It’s important to note that the cloth has historical significance that extends beyond the slave trade and has “become a symbol of pride for African Americans over the last 50 years.”

USA Today rated the claim “true,” saying that the “kente cloth was historically worn by the Asante people of Ghana, who were involved in the West African slave trade.”

USA Today’s research found:

Kente cloth comes from the Asante, or Ashanti, peoples of Ghana and Ewe peoples of Ghana and Togo.

A popular legend claims creators of kente cloth presented the cloth to Asantehene Osei Tutu, the Asante kingdom’s first leader. Tutu named the cloth “kente,” meaning basket, and adopted the fabric as a royal cloth for special occasions.

Tutu, who lived from 1660 to 1712 or 1717, unified several small Asante kingdoms to create the Asante empire. He is credited with expanding the Asante throughout most of Ghana and introducing his subjects to the gold and slave trades along the West African coast.

The Asante supplied British and Dutch traders with slaves in exchange for firearms, which they used to expand their empire. Slaves were often acquired as tributes from smaller states or captured during war. Some slaves were brought across the Atlantic whiles others stayed in Africa to work in gold fields.

According to the BBC, by the end of the 18th century the region exported an estimated 6,000-7,000 slaves per year.

After Democrats wore the cloth, The Daily Wire highlighted how various reports noted that the cloth typically signified patriotism or was worn to celebrate special celebrations.

Pro-life advocate Obianuju Ekeocha, who lives in Africa, released a video on Twitter condemning the Democrats for “ignorantly using the Kente fabric as a prop in their virtue signaling.”

“I was just looking online today like most of you and what did I see? A bunch of Democrat politicians kneeling down, of which I have nothing to say about that because I am not an American, however, they were all having around their necks this colorful fabric which I’m sure they put around their necks as some kind of mark or show of unity or solidarity with black people,” Ekeocha said. “So, in other words, they put in for the Kente material or this colorful fabric they had around their necks as some kind of placating sign or symbol to show that they are not racist and they are together with black people.”

“Excuse me, dear Democrats, in your tokenism, you didn’t wait to find out that this thing that you’re hanging around your neck is not just some African uniform, it’s actually the Kente material,” Ekeocha continued. “The Kente belongs to the Ghanaian people, mainly the Ashanti Tribe. Excuse me, Democrats. Don’t treat Africans like we’re children. These fabrics and these colorful things that we have within our culture and tradition, they all mean something to us. I know you look at us and you say, ‘oh Africans are so cute in all your colorful dresses.’”

“Well, some of those dresses and patterns and colors and fabrics actually do mean something to us,” Ekeocha added. “Some of them belong to ancient tribes and mean something to them. So why are you using it your own show of non-racism or your own show of virtue? Why are you using the Kente material to signal your virtue? Stop it. We are not children. Africans are not children. And leave our tradition and our culture to us and if you don’t know much about it, ask somebody. I’m sure there would have been something else you could have done to show your solidarity with black people instead of taking the Kente material and making a little show of it.”


Presidential candidate Cory Booker introduces Senate bill on slavery reparations

GETTY-cory-booker_1554747033858_7077715_ver1.0_640_360U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) speaks to guests during a campaign stop at the Van G, Miller Adult Learning Center on February 08, 2019 in Waterloo, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)


Sen. Cory Booker on Monday introduced a bill that would study the possibility of reparations for descendants of slaves, embracing a push that has recently has caught the interest of fellow 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

The senator from New Jersey said Monday that “this bill is a way of addressing head-on the persistence of racism, white supremacy, and implicit racial bias in our country. It will bring together the best minds to study the issue and propose solutions that will finally begin to right the economic scales of past harms and make sure we are a country where all dignity and humanity is affirmed.”

The measure is a Senate companion to a bill introduced in the House of Representatives in January by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, which if passed into law would set up a commission to study the impact of slavery and continued discrimination against black Americans and make recommendations on reparation proposals for the descendants of slaves. The legislation was first introduced 30 years ago by then-Rep. John Conyers of Michigan.

“Since slavery in this country, we have had overt policies fueled by white supremacy and racism that have oppressed African-Americans economically for generations,” Booker added. “Many of our bedrock domestic policies that have ushered millions of Americans into the middle class have systematically excluded blacks through practices like GI Bill discrimination and redlining.

Besides Booker, the idea of slavery reparations for black Americans is at least partially backed by at least eight other Democratic presidential contenders. They are Sen. Kamala Harris of California; Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts; Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont; former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who served as housing secretary under President Barack Obama; South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; and businessman and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

Several of them were asked specifically about Jackson Lee’s reparations bill during a conference last week of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

The push by the Democratic White House hopefuls points to the further importance of race and identity issues within the party. Yet while supporters say reparations are needed to address slavery and racist aspects of American history, critics claim such a move could cost several trillion dollars without solving the issue of racism.

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Dem. Presidential Candidate Calls for $100B in Slavery Reparations

“We need a moral and spiritual awakening in the country.”


Marianne Williamson, a best-selling author. spiritual teacher and activist, announced her bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Monday. On Thursday, she sat down on CNN’s New Day, where she said the United States needs to pay African-Americans reparations for slavery.

“We need a moral and spiritual awakening in the country,” the candidate stated. “Nothing short of that is adequate to really fundamentally change the patterns of our political dysfunction.”

Her platform includes proposal for free public college, universal health care, Medicare for all, a green new deal and $10 billion per year for slavery reparations to be paid over the course of a decade.

“I believe $100 billion given to a council to apply this money to economic projects and educational projects of renewal for that population is simply a debt to be paid,” Williamson said.

Watch the full interview below to hear what she believes to be the “deeper truths” about what has failed the American people.

Inside The Country Where You Can Buy A Black Man For $400

sub-buzz-2761-1544823388-1Slavery is thriving in Libya, where thousands of black Africans hoping to get to Europe instead find themselves bought and sold, forced to work for nothing, and facing torture at the hands of their owners.


BENIN CITY, Nigeria — Jude Ikuenobe sensed the car following him before he saw it. Heart pounding, he turned around. Under the Libyan desert sun, the highway stretching behind him was so hot it shimmered in the distance.

Nobody’s there, he tried to reassure himself for the tenth time since he had stepped out a few minutes earlier in search of water, along with three of his friends. The sandy side streets were deserted, every shop and café shuttered. It was a Friday afternoon, which meant even the armed militias who ruled Sabha, a sprawling oasis city 480 miles inland from the coastal capital, had filed to mosques for the most important weekly prayers.

Then came the sound again — the unmistakable purr of an engine.

Wordlessly, all four men scattered.

Ikuenobe felt like he was running through quicksand. As the car sped closer, he knew a single misstep could mean being gunned down and dying anonymously in the street.

“In Sabha, every black man is a target.”

He glanced over his shoulder, and terror seized him: A white 4×4 with tinted windows was heading straight at him.

All the warnings he’d heard flashed through his mind.

“In Sabha, every black man is a target.”

“We black in Libya — we’re money to Arabs. The minute they get us, they can sell us.”

“If they are coming, just run. Run for your life.”

Ikuenobe ran, and kept running even as there was a screech of tires, the smell of burning rubber, and a volley of gunshots. He kept running as one of his friends hit the ground with a thud. He ran until his legs gave way in an unpaved alleyway, and he collapsed onto the sandy ground, drenched in fear and sweat.

It took him several hours, on shaky legs through labyrinthine back roads, to slip back into the walled compound where he had spent the last three weeks. The building was no sanctuary, and Ikuenobe knew the owner of the compound would dole out a vicious beating, but he had nowhere else to go.

At least he was alive — none of his friends had made it back at all.


That summer afternoon in 2015 was the latest reminder of how far his life had slipped from his control, and how far entangled he was in a web of paymasters who control the new African slave trade.

Slavery typically conjures up images of ships transporting black Africans across the Atlantic, or the death marches of the trans-Saharan slave trade. But this modern-day version has added a cruel twist — this time, people from sub-Saharan Africa are often selling themselves into slavery, believing they are buying a ticket from a life of conflict, poverty, or repression to a glittering future in Europe. In a grim irony, the very policies of a European Union that is hardening itself against immigration are largely responsible not only for preventing people from reaching the continent, but their becoming enslaved and dying in their attempts to escape.

Few places could be further from the promised land than current-day Libya, where tens of thousands are detained indefinitely, spend years working for arbitrary sums or without pay altogether, and are at constant risk of being kidnapped, sold, and auctioned from one militia to another. In a country where chaos is the rule, some experts argue that such treatment doesn’t amount to slavery, a view that downplays the racism underlying the situation.

Ikuenobe had ended up trapped in Libya after leaving his hometown of Benin City, a verdant city of low-rise buildings in southwestern Nigeria, in search of a better life in Europe. He had planned for a two-week journey northward across the Sahara desert into Libya, from where he would set off in a boat across the Mediterranean. Instead, he found himself spending more than two years trying to survive in the underbelly of modern-day slavery.

sub-buzz-26824-1544823725-7People at a naval base in Tripoli, after being rescued off the coast of Libya, on July 30, 2018.


Starting in 2014, images of desperate people crammed onto boats as they tried to cross the Mediterranean began to appear on TV screens. The “migrant crisis” soon upended European politics, unleashing a wave of far-right populism and anti-migrant rhetoric.

The European Union began pulling up the drawbridge, and debates flared up around the legality and morality of its “stop the boats” policy. But its darkest consequences were often erased from the narrative: the tens of thousands of black Africans entrapped in a growing slave market.

In November last year, a video that could have been lifted from a 300-year-old time capsule went viral. On grainy cellphone footage obtained by CNN, a group of black Africans were shown being auctioned as slaves somewhere in Tripoli, Libya’s capital. Offscreen, a slave trader repeatedly emphasized the strength of the black men for sale: “This is a digger, a big strong man,” he said, a proprietorial hand on another man’s shoulder. A Nigerian man in his twenties, his eyes blank with fear, was offered as part of a group of “big strong boys for farm work.” The men were sold for $400 each.

The Tripoli-based government reacted by launching a committee it said would bring those responsible to justice — although a year on, no findings have been made public. The UN-backed presidency said: “We, in Libya, are victims of illegal migration and we are not a source for it.” Shortly after the footage was published by CNN, Libyan media described it as “fake news,” using a tweet by US president Donald Trump that attacked the news channel as a way to discredit its reporting on slavery in Libya.

Fewer people are making it to Europe, but more are dying, disappearing, or being abused.

The slave auction video, it emerged, was the tip of the iceberg of a forced labor market estimated to be worth $150 billion worldwide. Images resurfaced of black Africans being detained by militias in cages in Tripoli zoo. There were videos of Libyan coast guards whipping terrified black women and children at sea.

Perched on the northern coast of Africa, some 120 nautical miles across from the Mediterranean coast of Italy and Malta, oil-rich Libya has long served as a launching-off point for Europe. For nearly four decades, migrant numbers were controlled by the country’s flamboyant dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. He periodically threatened to unleash an “influx of starving and ignorant Africans” who would turn the mainland into a “black Europe” — in order to wrangle cash-for-migration-control deals.

In 2008, he secured a $5 billion reparations deal from Italy, a former colonial power; in exchange, Gaddafi would stem the flow of refugees. That paved the way for both countries to start capturing asylum-seekers and returning them to Libya, until the European Court of Human Rights ruled the deal broke human rights laws. The self-named “king of kings of Africa” then began demanding 5 billion euros ($5.67 billion) annually from the European Union.

After the Arab Spring and the US-led bombing campaign toppled Gaddafi in 2011, Libya was carved up between a UN-recognized central government in Tripoli, another in the east, and dozens of militias vying for control of the south. Migrant routes that had previously been controlled under Gaddafi suddenly opened up again.

Panicked European governments turned to a familiar playbook. Through EU and UN security and funding agencies, they poured sophisticated surveillance equipment, warships, and billions of euros into countries across Africa — with Libya as the centerpiece — in an effort to push back, return, or contain would-be arrivals. With no strongman ally this time around, that money has been channeled toward training Libya’s coast guard and funding migrant-holding centers — even when news emerged of coast guards firing on refugee boats or militia-run labor camps.

But critics fear that without dealing with the root triggers of migration, these kind of border controls are short-sighted at best. Sealing one route simply opens another one. It’s like playing a high-stakes version of whack-a-mole — but the question is how long is it sustainable, and at what human cost?

Fewer people are making it to Europe, but more are dying, disappearing, or being abused en route — except it’s no longer happening on the shores of Europe. Yet every step of Ikuenobe’s journey into slavery was shaped not just by conflict or poverty in Africa, but also directly by Europe’s policies on migration.


Ikuenobe wasn’t willing to risk everything to get to Europe — he just believed slavery was a thing confined to the history books he’d read at school. Tall, broad-shouldered, and dimple-cheeked, Ikuenobe spent his free time playing football or attending activities organized by his local church. A political science graduate, he was often teased by friends who said he had squandered his true talents by not playing for Arsenal soccer team, whose colors draped his room at home.

His journey into captivity began one evening in July 2015, when he was scrolling listlessly through his Facebook feed after yet another visa application at the US Consulate office. It was the fourth time that year he’d painstakingly filled out the forms, forked over money from his dwindling savings, and sat through a humiliating interview in an embassy. And for the fourth time, his request came back: application denied.

Depressed, Ikuenobe was about to log off when a familiar face popped up under the “people you may know” tab. His initial joy at reconnecting with Asiri, an old school friend, was soon replaced with a typical reaction Facebook engenders: FOMO. Except this wasn’t a fear of missing out on concerts or travel or parties — his dwindling bank account saw to that every day. This felt like his whole life was slipping by.

Ikuenobe believed slavery was a thing confined to the history books he’d read at school.

His former classmate had ended up in Italy, where he’d found a job as a waiter. According to the glossy version of his life on Facebook, he’d saved enough to buy a Vespa and would soon be putting a deposit on an apartment. “Where he was, you know the atmosphere was different. Everything looked fresher. It looked good,” Ikuenobe recalled, sitting in the same room in his family home where he’d been that evening three years ago.

All Ikuenobe ever really wanted to do was work. After graduating in 2013, he’d traveled 7,000 miles across the Atlantic to Mexico, where he got a job in a textiles factory. It wasn’t exactly his dream job, and he was homesick every day, but the paycheck of $800 provided enough to send money back to his family and help put his five younger siblings through school. But just over a year later, he had to return to Nigeria to complete his compulsory national youth service — a requirement if he wanted to eventually settle down back home.

After finishing his service, his plans to find another job abroad were crushed by the reality of Nigeria’s job market — there weren’t enough jobs that allowed him to save, and every legal door to emigrating slammed shut. He began pawning treasured possessions, including the peacock blue Toyota Camry he’d bought when he first returned from Mexico.

The next day, he called the number Asiri had given him. The man on the end of the line sounded warm and friendly. He could open doors northward from Nigeria, through its landlocked neighbor, Niger, and finally to Libya. From there, Europe would be within his grasp.

“He told me that in one week, I will be in Europe. I was like —,” Ikuenobe opened his eyes wide for emphasis, “What?! And I’ve been suffering myself since. I have been spending money.”

But Ikuenobe had questions, so he arranged to meet for drinks.

“I told him, ‘But we’ll be passing [the] desert, the Sahara desert.’ I went online to check it — one of the largest deserts, one of the hottest deserts on the planet.”

“He told me that in one week, I will be in Europe.”

The man reassured him that if Ikuenobe really wanted to put his mind at ease, he could pay a little more for what he called a VIP ticket, a package that came with extra security and what the man called “fine dining.”

For many, the chain that leads to slavery begins in Nigeria, where smugglers known as “trolleys” transport customers across the Sahara to Libya. When Ikuenobe handed over the last of his life savings of 800,000 naira ($2,200), he trusted the man would then send the right people to ferry him onward at each stage of the 1,500-kilometer journey to Libya’s coast.

The night before he set off, he paid his mom a visit. “Mom, I have a job now,” he’d barely begun, when his 74-year-old mother began screaming and jumping for joy.

She asked him what kind of job it was. Shipyard work, Ikuenobe lied. It gave him an excuse for why he wouldn’t be able to call — he’d often be at sea, he said.

He didn’t tell any of his siblings, knowing he wouldn’t be able to evade their questions so easily.

sub-buzz-967-1544829040-1A woman and children wave as two pickup trucks leave Niger for Libya, on June 1, 2015.


The first time he saw the man who would enslave him, Ikuenobe was relieved.

In reality, the VIP ticket meant clinging onto the railing of a pickup truck as it maneuvered the vast expanse of the Sahara. In a convoy of eight trucks, each crammed with 30-odd West Africans, Ikuenobe’s fellow travelers ranged from doctors to entire families with toddlers. It took them three days to reach Agadez, a former trans-Saharan slave trading hub 900 kilometers deep into Niger’s hinterland, but still only on the southern edge of the Sahara. Nothing could have prepared him for the landscape beyond Agadez.

They drove for miles with no shade, until the endless heat and dunes made many wonder if they were going mad. “Sometimes you look at your colleagues and it’s like blood is gushing out of their eyes. Some people will just lose it psychologically.”

They drove for miles with no shade, until the endless heat and dunes made many wonder if they were going mad.

Children were more likely to survive, Ikuenobe said, since they needed less water. Twice during their 2,000-mile ordeal across the world’s hottest desert, Ikuenobe saw fathers die, then mothers, until only the youngest children were left.

“When they died,” Ikuenobe recalled quietly, “you don’t have [a] choice. You just cover them with sand, and put their [water bottle] on top of them.”

The convoy arrived in Libya 10 days after leaving Niger, late in August, pulling up at the gate of a crumbling mansion on the outskirts of Sabha.

As Ikuenobe walked through the gates of Ali’s “ghetto” — as the compounds named after their owners were called — he felt exhilarated. His new friends had nicknamed him “Big Big,” on account of his towering physical presence, which they thought had helped him survive the desert. In a country where the word for black person, “abd,” literally means “slave,” he had no idea the strength on which he prided himself had a price here, judged to be between $200 and $400.

After the trolleys have transported customers across the Sahara to Libya, charges are then handed over to a “connection man” who is part of a network of traders that ferries them through Libya to launching points along its 1,100-mile coastline. But the journey through Libya is rarely straightforward. Paying off and dodging officials, connections also sell off migrants and refugees among themselves, or herd them in migrant ghettos.

sub-buzz-2488-1544109836-15Ikuenobe’s approximate route from Nigeria to Libya.


Ikuenobe hoped to follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of thousands of others who’d undertaken the same journey that year. But one by one, he watched all his new friends leave Ali’s ghetto as their connection came to collect them. By nightfall, it was clear no one was coming for him.

Ikuenobe was alone in a foreign country he knew nothing about when the gunshots started.

In one corner of the courtyard, a crumbling brick staircase led to a roof terrace. A group of children were using cans filled with sand for target practice. “I saw a very small boy, I don’t think he could be up to 14 years old. He was carrying an AK-47!”

“I saw a very small boy, I don’t think he could be up to 14 years old. He was carrying an AK-47!”

Ikuenobe had witnessed street violence in Nigeria, but nothing prepared him for Libya’s lawlessness. He watched, horrified, as the young boy pumped bullets into the air in celebration. “I was like, Jesus! Look at all these children!

The next morning, a man came in and gave Ikuenobe an appraising look. “Don’t worry. Somebody will come for you,” Ikuenobe remembered him finally saying.

He had gone back to lying on the concrete courtyard floor when four men approached and told him to follow them. One had a Nigerian accent, and the familiarity made Ikuenobe feel a little less lost.

The men marched him into the main house, past a series of cratered, marble-lined corridors to a room with a bolted metal door. Inside, the worst part was not the lifeless bodies lying in the dark, or the puddles of urine and shit. It was the smell of fear.

The first man pushed him down to the ground, and Ikuenobe felt something wet and warm against his cheek, but his brain couldn’t process what. He looked up and could just make out the face of the man with the Nigerian accent.

“Please,” Ikuenobe whispered.

The man brought his foot crashing down.

At some point, a long, heavy pipe was smacked repeatedly against his jaw, shoulders, and thighs. Much later, after his body had dissolved into a pulpy mass of pain and he could barely see out of one eye, everything finally went dark.

The four men took it in turns. When Ikuenobe tried to stand, one of them held him down, and the others continued punching and kicking. At some point, a long, heavy pipe was smacked repeatedly against his jaw, shoulders, and thighs. Much later, after his body had dissolved into a pulpy mass of pain and he could barely see out of one eye, everything finally went dark.

Something cold woke him up — they’d poured water on him to revive him.

One of the men was standing above him. He had an electric cattle prod in his hand. A second man was holding a cellphone. He demanded Ikuenobe give him the number of his mother, whom he’d last promised to call as she poured drinks celebrating his new “job.” Through a mouth foaming with with blood, Ikuenobe instead gave his older sister’s number. As soon as his sister answered, the first man pressed the electric prod against Ikuenobe’s wet skin.

By the end of the call, Ikuenobe could no longer tell who was sobbing loudest — him, or his sister thousands of miles away. His tormentors finally hung up after she promised to send them 600,000 naira ($1,650) in exchange for his “freedom.”

Such brutal tactics have become the norm in post-Gaddafi Libya — where not a single militia member or official has been prosecuted for torture or disappearances since 2011. Extortion is so widespread that captives even have a market value depending on which country they’re from — Eritreans, who have a large, well-organized diaspora, command the highest prices, while West Africans fetch the smallest ransoms and are the most likely to be ill-treated, Libya experts say.

New prisoners drifted in and out of the cell every day. When their captors came to beat one of them, others would join in the wailing, so the noise was magnified to relatives listening on the other end of the phone. Ikuenobe tracked how long he was in the cell by the amount of money his sister paid. After each phone call, he knew she handed over roughly 500,000 naira ($1,370).

Roughly a week later, when a short man called Israel limped in and told Ikuenobe he was free to go, he had to restrain himself from hugging him. His family had paid him over 2 million naira ($5,500), Israel said.

Believing he now had a connection to take him on the last leg of his journey, Ikuenobe felt relieved when he saw Israel press a bundle of notes into Ali’s hands. “I saw that money changing hands, and I thought it was the right person coming for me.”

Israel took him outside to a waiting car, and they sped along the wide, dusty streets to another private home. Inside, more men and women sat side by side on the concrete floor. They looked tired and gaunt.

Ikuenobe’s heart sank.

Israel hadn’t come to rescue him. He’d bought Ikuenobe as though he were chattel.

sub-buzz-20167-1544823849-1People rescued from a ship off the coast of Libya on June 18, 2018.


Perhaps surprisingly, many Libya experts tread carefully around calling experiences like Ikuenobe’s slavery. Othman Belbesi, head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Libya, said up to 800,000 sub-Saharan Africans face various abuses at any time in Libya, but he was cautious about naming it. “We need to agree about the definition of slavery before we use such strong words,” he said.

This reluctance stems, in part, from the different legal definitions of various forms of slavery, from trafficking to forced labor. But it also comes from a misconception that slavery is only the outright ownership of a person, according to Jakub Sobik, a spokesperson with Anti-Slavery International. “However you look at it, what’s happening in Libya is slavery.”

For Ikuenobe, the debate is purely academic. “I’m working. I’m not earning any money. I’m a slave already,” he said.

 “I’m working. I’m not earning any money. I’m a slave already.”

The city of Sabha, where he found himself, was in constant conflict, ruled by asma boys, as many sub-Saharan Africans called the militias and armed gang members. Ikuenobe was terrified. He was undocumented and jobless in a country where he was a moving target just walking down the streets.

He took the only real option available to him: to work for the man who was holding him prisoner until he’d earned enough money to buy his freedom. “I thought, ‘I’m already in Libya, it’s better I face the sea than for me to pass through that [Sahara] sun, better to die drinking saltwater than thirsty.’”

Israel, his new owner, also ran a car wash, where Ikuenobe was put to work for 12-hour shifts, with barely any food or water, in blistering temperatures.

Ironically, once at the car wash he was comparatively safe — he was marked as someone else’s property as surely as if he’d been branded. The asma boys tormented him with this knowledge at every opportunity.

“They hated us,” Ikuenobe recalled. “If you come near them, slap! Sometimes you don’t even do anything, they’ll —” he mimed being grabbed by the collar, “and blow gunshot near your ear like this.”

Am I going to die like this? he often wondered.

Sometimes desperate, Ikuenobe would use the few Arab phrases he’d picked up.

Asma, maloush. Fi maya?” he’d ask after washing their cars. Please, boss, give me water.

“Go fuck your mom. You stink of shit, get out,” would come the reply, as the men mockingly pulled up their shirts to cover their noses.

For many of the estimated 800,000 black African migrants and refugees in Libya, the situation is just as perilous. “If you’re dark-skinned and you’re from sub-Saharan Africa, … you’re at a very, very high risk of being assaulted, exploited, and detained,” said Hanan Salah, a Libya researcher with Human Rights Watch. “Libya is an accountability-free zone at the moment. Which police station is even going to take this complaint?”

“Libya, it’s a place that you can even sell your brother.”

One day blurred into another day for Ikuenobe, until three months had gone. He felt ever more paralyzed by his situation. His new owner refused to tell him how near he was to earning his freedom. Then one morning, Israel sent Ikuenobe on an errand. Ikuenobe considered it a breakthrough — it meant he was trusted. Perhaps he had paid off the arbitrary sum he owed?

Ikuenobe went completely still for a moment as he recalled what came next. “I had just arrived so I didn’t understand — Libya, it’s a place that you can even sell your brother. You really need to shine your eye because anybody can put pepper in it at any time,” he said, using a Nigerian phrase that means you have to constantly be on your guard.

Israel had not sent him out to run an errand. He had arranged for Ikuenobe to be snatched by a group of asma boys as soon as he stepped outside, pocketing the money in exchange for passing him into the hands of a violent militia. Ikuenobe was taken to another dreary compound in Sabha, and the now-familiar routine unfolded: He was tied down and beaten as he made the call back home. “I begged my family they should just settle [pay out] so I can cross [to Europe]. I had to cross.”


Ikuenobe’s family ended up paying the asma boys for his release, a sum that included his passage across the Mediterranean. This time, he was shoved into the back of a Toyota Camry — the same car he’d once loved cruising in when he’d had money back home — with three other men. They took turns praying aloud to keep themselves from passing out on the 480-mile-long journey to the coastal city of Sabratha, whose pretty whitewashed houses belie its reality as a watery graveyard for thousands of people trying to get to Europe.

Just after sunset one day in March 2017, Ikuenobe stood on the shore of a beach and gazed across the blue stretch separating him from Europe.

At last, he thought, his nightmare was coming to an end.

But in the 16 months since Ikuenobe arrived in Libya, the political tides had turned drastically. In August 2015, when he had first reached Sabha, the numbers fleeing across the Mediterranean had surged to historic highs, driven in part by the war in Syria. The dangers of the journey were illustrated in the last photo of Alan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian toddler who washed up facedown on a Mediterranean beach, his red shirt clinging to his tiny torso. Politicians across Europe seized on public outrage to say “never again” — but their way of doing so was to make sure fewer boats left North Africa in the first place, no matter the cost.

So when Ikuenobe and roughly two dozen others boarded a rubber dinghy, they had no way of knowing they were sailing straight into Europe’s “stop the boats” policy.

So far this year, only 1 in every 10 attempting to escape Libya by sea has been successful — the rest die, disappear, or are returned by the Libyan coast guard.

After a protracted battle with the Tripoli-based government over whether its ships could enter Libyan waters, the EU launched Operation Sophiain 2015, the latest replacement for Italy’s highly successful search and rescue operation called Mare Nostrum, which in a single year had plucked tens of thousands out of the 27,000 square miles of sea it scoured. Instead, under Operation Sophia, boats carrying people to Europe are blocked and rowed back by the Libyan coast guard, which is unofficially but partly made up of armed militias.

Spring and summer mark the peak of crossings, but by the end of that July, only half as many as the previous year had arrived. Eventually, even being pulled by humanitarian ships was no longer an option. Facing increasing political pressure, only one NGO search and rescue ship, the Aquarius, was operating in the central Mediterranean over the summer — until the vessel was impounded by Italian authorities in November, and relocated to a French port. Earlier this month the organizations running the Aquariuswere forced to cancel operations, blaming “a relentless … political, judicial and administrative campaign backed by several European states.” For now, the world’s most dangerous migrant route is patrolled only by Libyan vessels.

The departures haven’t stopped though — they’ve just become riskier. To avoid detection, smugglers increasingly push off at night, in flimsy rubber dinghies that are cheaper to replace than more seaworthy wooden boats.

So far this year, only 1 in every 10 attempting to escape Libya by sea has been successful — the rest die, disappear, or are returned by the Libyan coast guard. But a familiar complaint follows those who make it across: Lighter-skinned Libyan migrants often complain about having to wait alongside black asylum-seekers.


For 18 hours, the dinghy carrying Ikuenobe flailed in rough waters. Everyone aboard, including the smugglers, had all but given up hope by the time they were intercepted by men who claimed to be with the Libyan coast guard.

Their would-be rescuers towed the boat to safety, then drove them to a city called Zuwara, 120 kilometers west of Tripoli, where Ikuenobe was thrown into one of an unknown number of militia-run detention camps scattered across the country. “In this prison, there is no banamish,” he said, using the Arabic word for “50-50.” “You don’t pay for your freedom. There are people who had been there for 10 years.”


Ikuenobe was assigned to work on a farm harvesting dabinos — the Arab word for “desert date,” a fruit he’d never seen or heard of in Nigeria, and whose English name he still struggled to recall.

“The skin of that fruit is like needles. If it hits your eye, bashes you on your head — they will not give you any medicine. Sometimes the pain, you think, let me just die, if this how we live our life.”

Zuwara periodically erupted into violence, and one afternoon, the fighters overseeing the prison scrambled off to reinforce another battalion, leaving a 14-year-old boy in charge.

A fellow Nigerian prisoner, who had spent so long in Libya he spoke almost fluent Arabic, seized the opportunity to escape by tricking their young prison guard. “The [Nigerian guy] was telling him, … ‘Go and see your father. Rebels are attacking your father — go, go go,’” Ikuenobe recalled.

The frightened teenager ran, and the prisoners escaped.

For the second time since he’d arrived in Libya, Ikuenobe found himself running for his life through the streets of a city he didn’t know. This time, he was soon caught by a group of militias.

“I can’t remember exact dates — you just erase time from your head, because you’re living like an animal there.”

What followed was so traumatic that Ikuenobe struggled to articulate what he’d lived through. Normally talkative, he spoke in a flat voice and drummed his fingers. He could summon names and locations — or at least how they sounded to his foreign ears — but sometimes struggled to piece together a coherent timeline as he recounted eight months of being shuffled from one militia-run prison to another.

“I can’t remember exact dates — you just erase time from your head, because you’re living like an animal there.”

The guards would round them up suddenly, with no warning or explanation, and transport them from one prison to another.

“Black prisoners were kept separated from others, and they are scared of Nigerians, so your prison is worse,” he said of a prison called Duwela, near where their boat had launched off in Sabratha.

Next, he landed in a Tripoli jail, which he knew as Terigmata, an EU-backed holding center that made the previous militia-run one “seem like heaven.”

Then came a holding cell in Tajoura, in another official center for deportees. “That one was hell.”

Their keepers employed sadistic tactics to keep control over the thousands of half-starved prisoners. Guards would sometimes enter the room and let off a round of bullets above their heads. They were housed in a room with a corrugated iron roof — which meant that bullets sometimes ricocheted back into the overflowing cell.

Purple bruises formed around his joints from sleeping on a concrete floor. “It was like a dungeon. Where you piss and shit is where you sleep. Sometimes you’re shitting blood,” he said.

Salah, the Human Rights Watch researcher, said black prisoners were more at risk of being forced to work than others. “Nobody is exempt from ill-treatment, [but] in my experience … people with white skin or other Arab nationals tend not to stay as long in prisons.”

She recalled asking wardens in one detention center why their charges were being treated so inhumanely. The guards shrugged. “It just doesn’t compute [to them] that these are human beings who have the same needs as we all do.”

Every night, Ikuenobe prayed fervently. “We [felt] closer to God because we felt closer to our grave. I prayed to God to go to heaven when I died.”

Like much of Ikuenobe’s recollection of this part of his time in Libya, events blurred into a mass he had difficulty pulling apart. In one holding center, he remembered, two IOM officials visited and spoke to him. Ikuenobe gave his name and detailed how he’d ended up there. The officials recorded his account, adding him to a list of names of people wanting to return home.

Dealing with undocumented prisoners is a laborious process at the best of times, but that’s pushed to extremes when it comes to Libya. Whether IOM officials can even reach the people being held depends on them being aware they even exist — which often comes down to pure luck, as no one knows how many centers or prisons there are.

And then there’s keeping track of the ones they do know of. In one desert camp that Ikuenobe remembered as “Geria prison,” captives nicknamed it the “caravan prison” because military officials would periodically round them up and transport them to other holding cells scattered through the desert.

EU officials, who have denounced the inhumane conditions in detention centers, nevertheless say that they have no alternatives. “Libya is a sovereign country and we need to be working in close partnership with the Libyan authorities,” an EU spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “We’re not turning a blind eye to the situation. We’re trying to do our best in the situation that is not easy.”

sub-buzz-17084-1543869310-3People who have returned from Libya are registered by the Edo state government.


Last year, the African Union began to take a bigger role, which has helped. “They started paying attention to the fact it’s their own people suffering,” an IOM official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. It became easier, for example, for trapped people to obtain papers to allow them to leave the country. That helped some 20,000 people return to their country of origin aboard IOM-run flights from Libya.

“Voluntary returns isn’t being presented as a solution to address the current situation,” Belbesi, head of the IOM Libya, told BuzzFeed News. “It’s just one of the solutions that are available for people that are stranded in the country.”

Many don’t want to go home. For those fleeing war or repressive governments, Libya is not much better or worse than going home. A handful of African countries are accepting “third-country resettlements,” but experts say it’s just a stopgap solution until those who really need asylum can be given viable routes to do so. Although the EU has successfully lobbied to close down 25 Libyan detention centers this year, no North African country has accepted controversial proposals to set up official migrant-processing centers.

Two years and three months after leaving Nigeria, he was finally going back home.

With so many people alongside him in the camp, Ikuenobe had little hope of being rescued, and spent most of his time in a bleak fog.

But one day is etched in his mind. On Wednesday, Nov. 22, last year, the door to Ikuenobe’s cell was thrown open, and two officials began reading out a list of names — those whose return applications had been processed.

Crouched in a corner, Ikuenobe barely raised his head as the list of names grew longer. In an act of self-preservation, he didn’t dare hope.

When his name was called out, he staggered to his feet in a daze. He was physically wasted from the months of grinding work, his mind clouded by the constant trauma.

Two years and three months after leaving Nigeria, he was finally going back home.

sub-buzz-2761-1544823388-1Ikuenobe stands at the gate of his sister’s house in Benin City.


For many, the euphoria of going home is short-lived. In Nigeria, returnees find themselves deeper in debt — often having saddled their own families with additional debts, too — and with even fewer prospects than ever. Rather than facing the shame of returning empty-handed, many people attempt another trip to Europe, often using a different smuggler who offers an “updated” route.

The lack of government resources available to help returnees or to stop others from wanting to leave is compounded by the fact that many returnees don’t want to help with prosecutions of people smugglers. “You can’t prosecute and do humanitarian work at the same time. People won’t even come near you if you’re prosecuting aggressively — we’re talking about their mothers, fathers, people close to them,” said Yinka Omorogbe, attorney general of Edo state, where around three-quarters of families have sent at least one member abroad.

Ikuenobe has made it his personal mission to stem the flow of Nigerians abroad. Still unable to find a decent job, he spends his days visiting schools and churches to share his experiences, borrowing money from his sister to cover his transportation fees. But his lectures often fall on deaf ears, and Ikuenobe understands that, too.

“I don’t tell them not to migrate. Migration is good. But they shouldn’t go the Libya route — they should apply for a visa, legitimately. These traffickers, they can poison your mind.”

He usually drives his point home by showing students a picture of when he first returned from Libya — gaunt, his eyes hollow, and cheeks sunken. A stunned silence always follows.

After months searching, he recently found out what happened to one of the three friends he had stepped out with to buy water in Sabha. He learned via a fellow returnee that after shooting the man in the leg, the asma boys had dragged him to their ghetto. For months, the man’s parents kept sending money, hoping he’d be released. They didn’t know their son had bled to death a few days after he was shot. ●


A previous version of this story said Trump described the CNN video of the slave market as “fake news.” He in fact called CNN “fake news,” but did not make specific reference to the video.


The name of the organization Anti-Slavery International was misstated in an earlier version of this story.

U.S. owes black people reparations for a history of ‘racial terrorism,’ says U.N. panel

imrs.phpSlave shackles on display at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The history of slavery in the United States justifies reparations for African Americans, argues a recent report by a U.N.-affiliated group based in Geneva.

This conclusion was part of a study by the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, a body that reports to the international organization’s High Commissioner on Human Rights. The group of experts, which includes leading human rights lawyers from around the world, presented its findings to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday, pointing to the continuing link between present injustices and the dark chapters of American history.

“In particular, the legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge, as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent,” the report stated. “Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching.”

Citing the past year’s spate of police officers killing unarmed African American men, the panel warned against “impunity for state violence,” which has created, in its words, a “human rights crisis” that “must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

The panel drew its recommendations, which are nonbinding and unlikely to influence Washington, after a fact-finding mission in the United States in January. At the time, it hailed the strides taken to make the American criminal justice system more equitable but pointed to the corrosive legacy of the past.

“Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another, continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of African Americans today,” it said in a statement. “The dangerous ideology of white supremacy inhibits social cohesion amongst the US population.”

United Nations working group says U.S. owes reparations for slavery, mass incarceration

In its report, it specifically dwells on the extrajudicial murders that were a product of an era of white supremacy:

Lynching was a form of racial terrorism that has contributed to a legacy of racial inequality that the United States must address. Thousands of people of African descent were killed in violent public acts of racial control and domination and the perpetrators were never held accountable.

The reparations could come in a variety of forms, according to the panel, including “a formal apology, health initiatives, educational opportunities … psychological rehabilitation, technology transfer and financial support, and debt cancellation.”

To be sure, such initiatives are nowhere in the cards, even after the question of reparations arose again two years ago when surfaced by the groundbreaking work of American journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Separately, a coalition of Caribbean nations is calling for reparations from their former European imperial powers for the impact of slavery, colonial genocide and the toxic racial laws that shaped life for the past two centuries in these countries. Their efforts are fitful, and so far not so fruitful.

When asked by reporters to comment on the tone of the American presidential election campaign on Monday, the working group’s chairman, Ricardo A. Sunga of the Philippines, expressed concern about “hate speech … xenophobia [and] Afrophobia” that he felt was prevalent in the campaign, although he didn’t specifically call out Republican candidate Donald Trump.

“We are very troubled that these are on the rise,” said Sunga.

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West’s wild words stir again: Kanye calls slavery a ‘choice’!

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Before the last one had a chance to simmer down, Kanye West caused another stir, calling American slavery a “choice” in an interview Tuesday.



“When you hear about slavery for 400 years, for 400 years, that sounds like choice,” West said on “TMZ Live” after questions on his pro-President Donald Trump posts and pictures that caused a dust-up last week. “You was there for 400 years, and it’s all of y’all?”

“Do you feel like I’m thinking free and feeling free?” West asked the TMZ employees in the room.

“I actually don’t think you’re thinking anything,” TMZ’s Van Lathan quickly cracked back at West, as many would in the ensuing hours.

Lathan said while West gets to live the elite artist’s life, “the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats in our lives. We have to deal with the marginalization that has come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was our choice.”

Symone D. Sanders, political commentator and CNN contributor, led the anti-West chorus on Twitter.

“Kanye is a dangerous caricature of a ‘free-thinking’ black person in America,” Sanders tweeted. “Frankly, I am disgusted and I’m over it. Also (I can’t believe I have to say this): Slavery was far from a choice.”

Others put it more briefly.

“Slavery wasn’t a choice,” Russ Bengtson tweeted, “but listening to Kanye is.”

West also told TMZ that he became addicted to opioids that doctors prescribed after he had liposuction surgery in 2016. He was hospitalized for a week and had to cut short his “Pablo” tour. West said the painkillers drove him to a “breakdown,” which became a “breakthrough” when he found himself again.

West also doubled down on his love of the president, which Trump has been returning in tweets.

“I just love Trump,” West said, adding that most in hip-hop agreed with him before Trump became president. “Trump is one of rap’s favorite people.”

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The History Of The Negro Wall Street – The Unforgettable Horrific Event Of 1921!

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African-Americans Are A Big Threat To American Society – And Here’s Why!

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