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A Look at Human Trafficking in Nigeria; What Should Be Done About Genocide in Darfur?

Aired September 16, 2006 - 12:30:00   ET


FEMI OKE, HOST: I'm Femi Oke. Welcome to INSIDE AFRICA, our weekly look at news and life on the continent.
Human trafficking is a barbaric practice around the world, a form of modern-day slavery. A recent U.S. State Department report estimates nearly 800,000 people are trafficked every year throughout the world, most of them women or girls. That figure doesn't include the millions trafficked within their own countries. Trafficking can include anything from forced labor to prostitution.

In Africa, Nigeria is one of the countries battling this problem. Christian Purefoy has more.


CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A typical rural setting in southeast Nigeria, but its tranquility is deceptive. It masks a dark secret: Human trafficking, the transportation of people for exploitation, often to Europe as prostitutes.

Gooday Akhimiona is a juju or black magic priest, accused of helping traffickers by instilling fear in human trafficking victims, mostly girls between the ages of 12 and 25.

GOODAY AKHIMIONA, JUJU PRIEST: Presenting my power. If I say something, (inaudible).

PUREFOY: Victims say they're forced through bloody and degrading juju rituals, and made to swear oaths of secrecy. One victim, rescued by her cousin while on her way to Europe, wishing to keep her identity hidden, explained what happened to her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They asked me to swear the juju, that if I get to town and don't pay any money, that the juju will make me run mad.



PUREFOY: Nigerian authorities say traditionally, victims were lured into trafficking by deceit. But the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons, on NAPTP, in charge of implementing Nigeria's anti- trafficking law, has noticed a disturbing new trend.

ARINZE ORAKUE, NAPTP: And now they've gone the wrong way. That's the trend they're now going. (inaudible) contact me, contact us. Or (inaudible).

PUREFOY: Nigeria's anti-trafficking agency says madams in Europe, in league with international mafias, control the traffickers and money.

In Nigeria, human trafficking is the second most lucrative illegal trade after drugs, and about 90 percent of Nigerian victims are trafficked from Edo state in southeast Nigeria. The dream of a new life in Europe is a powerful lure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought maybe it was a peaceful place, a place where someone can be comfortable. Anything you want, you can get it there. Or maybe you want to go to school, you can go to school safely and come back safely.

PUREFOY (on camera): Do you still -- do you still think that? Would you still like to go?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I would like to go, I would like to go there to school.

PUREFOY (voice-over): NAPTP has convicted 10 people, but traffickers are rarely better off than their victims. Serving three years in Edo state prison, convicted trafficker Sarah Okoya explains what made her turn to trafficking.

SARAH OKOYA, FORMER TRAFFICKER: When you have to do things, thinking that thing is going to bring money, you're doing it because of money, and that is why I did it.

PUREFOY (on camera): Victims then pass down this road. Through a series of different routes, they are passed like a relay race from trafficker to trafficker, until they finally reach the Sahara desert. It's a journey that can take many years, and many of them never get to see Europe, and many will never pass down this road to home again.

Christian Purefoy, CNN, Edo State, Nigeria.


OKE: Thanks, Christian.

To learn more about the problem of human trafficking on the continent, we spoke to professor Sulayman Nyang of Howard University. Professor Nyang will be moderating a conference on human trafficking this month at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. I began by asking how widespread is the problem in Africa.


SULAYMAN NYANG, HOWARD UNIVERSITY: Well, human trafficking has been in Africa for a long time. I mean, one can go back to slave period, when Africans ended up in slavery across the Atlantic or across the Sahara or across the Indian Ocean.

But in more recent times, it's likely the result of poverty of these societies, rural poverty, and increasingly urban poverty.

OKE: Professor, how successful have African governments been in trying to stop human trafficking?

NYANG: Well, the African governments have responded in their own limited way, because the African state is a very soft state. It doesn't have the capacity to really monitor and effectively control. In fact, some of these governments, they might very well see this as good riddance for so many young people, because they are afraid that so many young people might create social unrest in their societies.

OKE: You're involved in a non-profit organizations known as Free the Slaves. What can an organization like this and others do to stop human trafficking, not just in Africa, but around the world?

NYANG: Free the Slaves is basically concerned about the elimination of any remnants of servitude, whether that servitude manifests itself in the rural context or in urban context. And this is precisely what it has been doing since it came into being.

OKE: Human trafficking is really a modern spin on slavery. How do you make that connection?

NYANG: In the modern context, what has happened is, many of these young people may have some education, but they're not able to get jobs. So they feel that they could find jobs elsewhere. And, of course, this makes them very vulnerable to the manipulation of the human traffickers, because the human traffickers are banking heavily on their misery.

So I want to give you Prozac (ph), or I want -- metaphorically speaking, or to give you some kind of means of escaping from poverty. So in order for you to escape from poverty, you certainly need some kind of help. And then by exposing yourself to that offer, you easily find yourself entrapped, and you fall right into the tentacles of these people.

OKE: So, finally, professor, tell me about what you feel may be a solution to this problem of human trafficking, particularly as it relates to Africa.

NYANG: Well, I think there are two solutions to this problem. One is an economic solution, that is create the economic condition so that people can begin to develop home-grown methods of success at home. That's a major challenge. Stem the rural exodus. And then address the problem of massive unemployment of youth in the urban areas.


OKE: And that was professor Sulayman Nyang of Howard University.

We're going to take a break here, but there is much more to come on INSIDE AFRICA. Next, we're going to talk to two activists trying to draw attention to the dire situation in Sudan's Darfur region. Please stay with us.


OKE: Good to see you again. You're watching INSIDE AFRICA.

This week, the crisis in Darfur was pushed back into the headlines. Actor/activist George Clooney and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel went before the United Nations Security Council. Both men pleaded with the U.N. to act to save the lives of those in the western region of Sudan.

Sunday, worldwide demonstrations are planned to draw attention to the plight of those in Sudan's Darfur region. Some 2 million people are waiting in camps for the world to decide what it will do to help them.

Joining us to discuss this is Dr. Gloria White-Hammond, who is with, a coalition of 170 groups trying to raise awareness about this issue, and Omer Ismail, the co-founder of the Darfur Peace and Development Organization. He is from Darfur, and recently visited the refugee camps in neighboring Chad.

We began by talking about this week's momentum and how to turn it into something practical.


OMER ISMAIL, SUDANESE ACTIVIST: We need all the political will of the nations to help the people of Darfur secure areas for the people to come back from the refugee and the displaced camps. And also bring them back to their original places where they were uprooted from earlier. And also to stop the violence against women, against children, against the -- the civilians. And also, bring peace and tranquility to this region that has been volatile, has been under siege, basically. The people of Darfur have been under siege for the last three years.

OKE Let me bring Dr. White-Hammond into our conversation. Dr. Hammond, you're organizing -- part of the organizing team for a huge rally happening in Central Park in New York, coming up. What are you hoping to achieve?

DR. GLORIA WHITE-HAMMOND, SAVEDARFUR.ORG: Well, as you've heard, this is the rally that's in New York, but there will also be rallies around the world. Certainly one in Abuja, even in Juba in south Sudan, looking to have another rally in London and Paris.

And so, we're -- we're looking to demonstrate the international concern.

We in America will certainly be a diverse group. We're looking for it to be interfaith. We have a large Jewish, Christian, Muslim contingent. Certainly looking for this to be interracial. And are just delighted at how diverse that is. But all of us coming together to make it clear that we are holding -- in America holding the United States government accountable, but even around the world, holding the international governments accountable to stop this genocide in Darfur, and then bring peace and justice to all of Sudan.

OKE: After this rally, after all of this support for the people of Darfur, who is going to be out to do something? If we are still two years on from what Mr. Ismail said was the worst humanitarian crisis, in the words of Kofi Annan, who is going to do something? And why haven't they done it already?

ISMAIL: We cannot do it by just asking the United Nations to go in there and bring the troops. The international community and the donor conference that is expected to be in -- in October, in the Hague, is supposed to pledge substantial amounts of money for the reconstruction of Darfur, because there is nothing there. The infrastructure is completely depleted, and before that it was debilitated anyway.

WHITE-HAMMOND: As I like to say, there at least three aspects to this genocide. One, of course, is prevention, which would be the most important aspect, but once the genocide happens and we've got to do the intervention, and you're hearing us talk very much about the critical importance at this point of intervening.

But then the other aspect really is what I call the reinvention, which in a way serves as a method of prevention. So I very much appreciate Omer's delineating that, that we've got to then think about the rebuilding process. But obviously, we've got a lot of work to do to even get this intervention under way.

OKE: Let me return to Omer Ismail. This is your home country, Sudan. Isn't it really the responsibility of the Sudan government? What are you expecting from the United Nations? What can they do if the Sudan government doesn't cooperate?

ISMAIL: The United Nations should step up to the plate and say, we demand that the government of Sudan allows these troops into Darfur. This is -- this is not something that the United Nations should beg the government of Sudan to do.

The government of Sudan, as a member of the United Nations, should adhere to the resolutions that come out of the United Nations. This is one.

Two, I heard some voices in the United Nations Security Council yesterday asking for more dialogue with the government of Sudan. We cannot be there dialoguing with the government of Sudan indefinitely. We have to set a time, and we say by October 1st, by December 31st, whatever the date is, we have to change the helmets of the African Union, because they are going to be part of the international troops who are going to be continuing to do the job that they started doing there. There are so many criticisms there. But the African Union has done something in Darfur. We want them to continue to do that, but under the auspices of the United Nations, because it is a bigger operation. It is something that the African Union, with its limited capacity, and -- and with limited experience in peacekeeping cannot do.

So we're bringing the rest of the world together, and we're trying to help the people of Sudan.

The government of Sudan should not hide behind sovereignty and intervention in the -- in the affairs of the state. These -- these things don't hold water anymore, because the world knows these troops are not going there to intervene in the affairs of Sudan. They are there to preserve life, to help the people of Darfur secure their own life, something that the government of Sudan has advocated a long time ago. They cannot do it, so they have to let the rest of the world do it for them.

WHITE-HAMMOND: I think it's also important for people to contextualize the government of Sudan and its own history. In fact, this government has presided over the genocide in south Sudan. It presided over the genocide in the Nuba Mountains, and so this is the third genocide over this -- which this particular government, Omar al-Bashir has presided.

And this genocide is spreading even beyond Sudan, so it's becoming regional now. It involves the country of Chad, as well as the Central African Republic.

So, historically, this is a government that is guilty of serial genocide. And so for us to think that we can simply ask it to protect its own people is ludicrous.


OKE: There is more to come on INSIDE AFRICA. Just ahead, we'll visit a boyhood home of one of Africa's most popular young artists. That's next.


OKE: I'm so glad you came back. You're watching INSIDE AFRICA.

They all may not have MBAs, but they're increasingly influencing Africa's emerging market. They're called trendsetters, or grasses, a take- home British slang for an informant. And they're changing the way multinational businesses like Levi Strauss are doing business across the continent.

Alphonso Van Marsh explains.


ALPHONSO VAN MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tulani Mbana is a trendspotter, paid to check out what people are wearing, drinking and thinking. And she says Capetown's Orchard Bank Bar is one of the best to spot what's going to be hot.

TULANI MBANA: My special sense and my trendiness is ongoing (ph). It's not something that I do because a magazine or a glamour magazine stipulates it to me.

VAN MARSH: Mbana is a grass, a British slang for an informant. And youth focused multinationals like Red Bull, MTV and Levi Strauss, they're watching like Mbana shoots with her cell phone camera.

When democracy replaced apartheid in 1994, big business spotted the growing spending power of South African blacks.

MBANA: For the longest time, inside Africa, white people don't want to know about what we do, but now that we can afford certain things, only now do they realize that we've got the power of the bling.

VAN MARSH: Mbana's boss Ian Calvert says he works with over 200 grasses in South Africa, Angola, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.

IAN CALVERT, MANAGING DIR., INSTANT GRASS: What those guys are picking up, what they're listening to, what they're wearing, today it's probably what the mass market is going to be wearing in three to six months time.

VAN MARSH: Levi Strauss went to Instant Grass to get some advice in how to put an African identity on an iconic American brand. For example, this is one of South Africa's top singers wearing the Levi's jeans. And even though one in every six pairs of jeans sold in this country are Levi's, the company realized it had a perceived stumbling block in sales.

MIKE JOUBERT, LEVI'S STRAUSS SOUTH AFRICA: The young African female body shape is quite different from any other female in the world, and they were really proud of their curves.

MBANA: We are shaped differently from white girls. We've got big asses.

VAN MARSH: Mbana's blunt truth, typical of Instant Grass research, that prompted Levi's to create a roomier jean called the Eva.

Levi's won't give up numbers, but says Eva quarterly sales are exceeding projections.

MOALI NDUMO: Makes you feel sexy. Yeah, I love it.

VAN MARSH: It seems a good fit. Grass is showing multinationals how to adapt their products to suit African tastes, instead of expecting Africans to adapt their tests to the West.

Alphonso Van Marsh, CNN, Johannesburg.


VAN MARSH: Alphonso, you have to give me a pair of those Eva jeans. Just what I need, I think.

Now, he's one of South Africa's biggest stars. Zola is the king of Kwaito, a type of South African hip-hop. He also has two hit TV shows, and appeared in the Oscar award-winning film "Tsotsi." He recently took me on a tour of the township where he grew up.


OKE: Zola knows all about the tough streets of Soweto. He took his stage name from the area where he grew up. So an invitation to join Zola on the tour of the Zola neighborhood market was an offer I couldn't refuse.

ZOLA, MUSICIAN: OK, this is Zola -- where I take the name Zola, and why I use that name specifically is because the Zola is there being this perception that Zola is a very dangerous, rough neighborhood. So I felt that if I call myself Zola, then it could raise an eye, and people want to find out who am I. Then I can argue my story.

OKE: His story is one of a local boy who does well and doesn't forget his roots.

(on camera): Zola, is it like this everywhere you go when you come back home?

ZOLA: It's like this everywhere I go. But the funniest thing about this neighborhood is that probably everybody here has known me from when I was a bambino, (inaudible)...

OKE: So, you really know these people?

ZOLA: Yes, I speak at the same (inaudible).

OKE (voice over): The shopping in the township market was not always fun. Zola reflected on some of the changes that have resulted from the collapse of apartheid.

ZOLA: There was a time when it wasn't cool to buy in this market, because the white system (inaudible) has been in our mind, that you look fancy or more respected if you bought in town and stuff. And then democracy came, and -- and black power and everything came back. And so people have come back and have embraced this very same market, you know. Now, it's just a cool place to go in, buy whatever you can on the floor, and yeah, and people (inaudible).

OKE: And there is plenty to buy. We saw some fruits and vegetables, clothing and things for your home.

ZOLA: I want to show you something. This -- this -- I do not -- I do not leave home without this.

OKE (on camera): What is this?

ZOLA: This is called emberico (ph).

OKE: Emberico (ph).

ZOLA: Yes. This is traditional African incense. You burn this in your house, it just connects you to ancestors. You talk to them through this, right? And at the same time, because now the trinity is coming as well, and people embrace the trinity god and everything, so there are a lot of people that use this as well, in terms of Christianity. (inaudible) your house (inaudible).

And it's (inaudible), because it kind of looks like ganja, but it's not. So this is legal. Ganja is not. That's why you find it in the market. This is not to be smoked. It's not to be smoked. This will only -- when you get in trouble with yourself or your soul, you don't understand a few things, you're getting bad dreams and you think you failed this and (inaudible) you get intimate with your ancestors. So I have this all the time in my house in the suburb. I burn this all the time.

OKE (voice over): Once he became a big star, Zola moved out of the township, but he comes back often to connect with family and friends.

ZOLA: I'm at home almost whenever I get time, because this is where I get inspired. My grandmother's house is just down the road there. So if I need to talk to ancestors, I need to hit that house. My mom's house is up the road. So if I have problems, I don't go to a shrink, I go to my mom, right? The boys that I grew up with are all over the area from the first day in school it was (inaudible). The boys I grew up with. So I have to come home and see them all the time. Always be home, said Caesar. That's just how it is, you know.


OKE: Oh, my goodness. One of the smartest musicians I've ever had the pleasure to hang out with. On that day, in Zola, the neighborhood of Zola in Soweto, Zola was mobbed. People like elbowing me out of the way, trampling over me to get to him. He really is a really huge figure in South Africa. He's also involved with a number of social programs involving township youth. He is a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, and recently spoke in New York at the U.N. world conference on the small arms trade. And his music is pretty hot, too.

The INSIDE AFRICA team wants to hear from you. If you have a comment about the program, or know of an event we should add to our calendar, let us know, e-mail us at That's And please include which country you're writing from. And your response may be used on a future broadcast.

That's it. We have no more INSIDE AFRICA for you. I'm Femi Oke. Thank you for joining us. Hope you can tune in again next week. I will leave you with some pictures of Zola in Zola. Take care.



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