Slavery is back on the African continent. And this news might make one of the most popular slave abolitionists William Wilberforce to turn in his grave. But it is true. However, unlike in the past, the new brand of slavery is affecting all parts of the continent. Talking about the disturbing and shameful past, Arabs come to the fore. As they invaded, settled and occupied North Africa and could not get the Berbers to enslave because they had escaped to the hills, the new occupants decided to turn to sub Saharan Africa to ply their evil trade.
Soon after, the Europeans came and also began pilfering West and Central Africa in search of slaves. Since then, sub Saharan Africa has suffered a lot and is still suffering today. Especially that some historians are trying to justify slavery under the guise that ,some black Africans were concerting victims of the calamity that took place on the continent. Whether the thesis which holds that, some black Africans contributed in slavery or slave trade currently prevailing and encouraged for reasons which will not be elaborated hereon is true or false, it has to be pointed out that, slavery never took place only in Africa and also that, black Africans are not the only people who have taken part in actions that are inimical to their own very people.
That is why all the theories on the current difficulties of black Africans on the continent and beyond attributed to the curse on the biblical Sham, claimed to be the ancestor of blacks have to be vigorously discarded and disregarded and the reasons of black’s economic predicaments in the world be sorted out elsewhere. Putting history and debates aside, what is deplorable is that, what happened 4 or 5 hundred years ago is repeating itself, even though it may be said or claimed that it is done in a different manner today.
Whatever the case, prostitution is the new form of slavery that all Africans are participants and it is happening on a grand scale currently. It also looks as though Prostitution has even become in some countries, alternative sources of revenue and the beneficiaries are people from the worst managed or poorly governed countries, but that are all potentially rich.
This may be over exaggerated to a number of Africans, but as the state in most African countries are shrinking and defaulting from their primary responsibilities, it would not be a surprise that, it is from a ludicrous section of the informal sector of the economy that, the comatose states concern are getting their life lines.
Cameroon and Nigeria are two big suppliers of black African prostitutes paving and pacing the streets of France’s major cities at night and some in broad daylight. Interestingly or not, they are not the only African countries supplying prostitutes to France and that are also in a tough competition with other supplying countries of Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Republics and Asia (China and India). Besides Cameroon and Nigeria, the other African countries supplying prostitutes in France are Algeria, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Morocco, Mali, Tunisia, Ivory Coast and Senegal.
The Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians are almost at home in France and practicing the old trade with easy, even though within their communities they are considered as pariahs. One other factor helping them is that, most North Africans have skin pigmentations that are not different from those of native white French.
Hence they easily dilute themselves within the professional hard core of French prostitutes. North African prostitutes have their own niche market. They are found in cafes or bars of some well known streets in big cities of France and Belgium. As for those from West Africa, since they are all blacks, they are easily identified especially that, they are always complete with explicitly flashy dresses that describe the trade in which they are in. But not all black prostitutes on the streets of major cities of France are from Africa.
Some are from Latin America, specifically from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru or from the French dependencies of Guadeloupe, Martinique and Guiana. However Cameroonians and Nigerians are presently the ring leaders in the illegal and disrespectful trade. But it seems that, most Cameroonians and Nigerians do not consider prostitution to be a bad trade. Recently, I was horrified when a Cameroonian boldly told me that, Cameroonian prostitutes and fraudsters who are abroad are the ones running the economy of that West African state. Whether it was an exaggeration that only Cameroonians are best at? It is not clear. But the reality is that, prostitution has taken another dimension in both Cameroon and Nigeria.
Although Nigerians are not boisterous and loquacious as Cameroonians are, they are the ones who are leading the evil trade, particularly Nigerians from an eastern ethnic group known as the Igbos. Igbos gangs are well organised like those from Eastern Europe and China, whereas other African states or their nationals such as Cameroonians have remained amateurs in the malevolent trade. Nevertheless, not all Cameroonians or Nigerians are involved in the trade. And in both countries, not all parts are involved or affected by the scourge.
And People from Northern Nigeria and Northern Cameroon are notoriously absent as intermediaries or actors in the trade. Moreover there are no clear explanations for their non-existence. Some think that, it might be that, both northern regions of Cameroon and Nigeria which are predominantly Muslims, the dominant religion may operate as deterrent. But it is not clear or justified because, other Islamic countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Mali, Tunisia and Senegalese are either prostituting or have some gangs controlling and bringing their nationals to practise the creepy trade in Europe.
The other reasons might be that, the northern parts of both Cameroon and Nigeria have remained rural and little urbanised or that, their exposure and level of educations are adrift in comparison with other regions in both countries. Hence Northern Cameroon and Northern Nigeria, whose natives are both witnessing perhaps more the difficult economic climate in both countries, have remained enigmas as to why they are not acting as gangs organising prostitutions or their girls operating as actors.
In both countries, prostitution affects mostly the potentially rich areas. In Cameroon the principal areas exporting prostitutes to Europe are the Littoral, Centre, South, South west and North West provinces, precisely the Sanaga maritime and Wouri divisions (Littoral province) Mfoundi, Lekie and Nyong and Kelle divisions (Centre province) Dja and Lobo division (South province) Nde, Mifi and Upper Nkam divisions (West province), Meme, Manyu and Fako divisions (South west province) and Mezam and Momo divisions (Northwest province). As for Nigeria’s 90% pool of exceptionally teenage prostitutes, they come mostly from Edo and Delta states, formerly known as Bendale state.
Although most of the teenage prostitutes may claim to have originated from Benin City or Asaba, respectively state capitals of afore mentioned states, the truth is that, they are mostly from rural parts and also from poor and under educated families. What do these regions in both countries share in common besides their appreciations for prostitution? They are the potentially rich parts but ironically with proportionally high illiteracy and poverty rates compared with other parts in both countries.
Because these localities and its people in both countries are caught in the vicious circle of under education and poverty, they are easily lured into prostitution by natives of neighbouring regions within these same countries. Oddly, regions promoting prostitutions do not practice the trade, but see it as a lucrative venture to use their compatriots in order to get rich faster. Does that not sound like the periods of slavery that took place some five hundred years ago?
The actions of some natives from some regions in Nigeria or Cameroon who uses or lures natives from other regions into prostitution, shows a universal vision of humanity which is opposed to the angelic one always chorused around the world to be what prevails in Africa. The use of people from other regions who are easily carried away by the illusions of better lives in Western Europe is not unique to Africa; it is noticeable and practised in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America. All regions that are poor and undereducated compared to Western Europe, the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand seems to be constantly exploiting each other in one dehumanising trade or the other.
Cameroon and Nigeria are two nations tied to each other by millennia ancestral relationships and also colonial ones which are most recent and more palpable. But like in every family, there is always the inevitable disputes between elder brother Nigeria in economic and population terms with its younger brother Cameroon based on the latter mentioned criteria. I will like to point out that, economically, Nigeria is the elder brother of Cameroon, but politically, the greater part of Cameroon, that is the French-speaking part, got her independence 10 months before Nigeria.
But it has not prevented Nigeria from overtaking Cameroon in the area of economic growth aided by the large deposit of Oil that some experts put between 30 and 34 billion of yet to be exploited capacity. However the only areas were Cameroon has kept its big brother status is in the area of football. As you can see, a big brother shall always manage to remain big somewhere. Nonetheless, the area of prostitution has given an opportunity for both countries to flex their muscles again.
Effects on production and civil services of both countries
I don’t know whether Cameroonians have noticed that within their civil service, some of their colleagues just disappear from work and the next she is heard of is that, she is either in France or in Switzerland. It is the same trend observed in Nigeria, whereby some top female civil servants just evaporate from their offices and the next they are heard of are that, they are either in Britain or US prostituting. Strangely, all these ghost workers or civil servants in Cameroon or in Nigeria are still being paid for no work done.
This demonstrates a strong lack of control or complicity between the hierarchies in the civil services of both countries and the erring civil servants who disgrace their countries and their professions. The effects of the organised abandonment in the civil services in both countries are manifold.
The first is that, it will sadly justify no matter how difficult some innocent hard working Cameroonian or Nigerian civil servants may think, the down sizing of their civil service. The other negative effects are that, billions are wasted in the absence of proper executions of health programmes and education curricular set by both governments. This is because, the bulk of the escapees are nurses, medical doctors or teachers. The duplicity does not only affect the civil services in both countries.
The informal sectors that represent more than half of both countries economies are also receiving beatings. Most market women in Cameroon and perhaps in Nigeria are surprised that most of their colleague vendors have suddenly decided to become Muslims and are all year round in Mecca. Whereas the reality is that, they are not Muslims on pilgrimage, but it is just a stratagem to masquerade the fact that, they are prostituting in France, Britain or in the US. Their friends left home are always marvelled that, whenever these women come back, they bring lots of monies, cars and upon all, usurp the Islamic title of hidja. Their action has three negative effects.
It has made Christians to start converting en mass into Islam, thinking that, they will become rich; secondly it has made many Cameroonian girls to take the route to Europe or accept any propositions that will lead them to the earthly paradise called Europe. Finally the usurpation of Islam and Islamic titles by dubious women with lust for wealth is tarnishing the Islamic faith just as politicians who have travesty Islam and make it to become militants and merchants of hate done, through the carrying out of terrorist actions under the guise of defending their religion.
This therefore calls on Islamic clerics to come out and denounce the travesty of their religion or soon the distinctions between what Islam really teaches and what apostates claim will blur the true nature of Islam. In the current dispensation in the world, it would be another public relations blow to Muslims if they don’t come out strong to condemn the new crops of hidjas rising in Cameroon or Nigeria and certainly in other parts of Africa.
National rivalries and the exploitation of Asylum procedures
In the past, activities of the sinister business seem to have succeeded in France because as Cameroonians came, they drove out of business the English-speaking Ghanaians who could not speak French. They also drove Senegalese and Malians out of business, not that the former could not speak French, but more because, they were traditionalists, while Cameroonians were urbanised and susceptible of adapting and adopting French etiquettes easily. But the honey moon of Cameroonians never lasted long; this is because, the very enterprising Nigerians began invading Europe, first from Italy. And when Italy was full or the authorities opened their eyes wide when the streets of Milan or Rome at night was becoming like any street in Africa, the Nigerian pimps began changing the destinations of their commodity.
The soft spot was France and they came in using legal means, or through the use of asylum procedures. They were aware more than Cameroonians that, if one files in a request for asylum, which they know is fake with little or no chance of obtaining a satisfactory response, it nonetheless takes a minimum of two years before the administrative procedures goes through.
During this period, their slaves are legal and would be forced to carry on with their trade with no fear of expulsion and the sum that, they had invested to bring the girls over will be recovered four or five times the initial investment. By so doing, the quiet Nigerians had more powers over Cameroonians who were living illegally in France. Nigerians could easily be one of the most intelligent creatures on earth and if they could put their potentials in honest ventures, their country will be a miracle. Little wonder that, in spite all pessimistic predictions about their country, it is still the second economic power of the continent. It is a proof that, there are possibilities for Nigeria to become the first economy of Africa.
The coming of Nigerians to France who suddenly became Liberians, Sierra Leoneans or even Sudanese or Jamaicans was not just bad news to other Africans who were in the business of prostitution. It was calamity to East Europeans and Asian gangs who were also in the niche market. Nigerians began encroaching in the territories of the organised prostitution networks of East Europeans and also those of the Asians, led by the continental Chinese. The results have been the deaths of some Nigerian prostitutes.
As Cameroonians could no longer compete with any of the three organised gangs, they began subcontracting their Vans* to Nigerians and when the sub contracting deals were no longer lucrative, they decided to leave France for Switzerland. Today, Switzerland is heaven to Cameroonian prostitutes while France has become the Mecca of East Europeans, Asians and the only Africans surviving in the jungle of prostitution in France are Nigerians.
In France at the moment, at (OFPRA*),the government agency charged with the examining of asylum cases, Nigeria is perhaps the only country in their files whose applicants are in majority girls not above 20 and all presumably persecuted by their government. The questions worth asking are these: which of the Nigerian governments are responsible for the alleged persecution of teenage girls to a point that, all seek salvation only in prostitution abroad? Are the Federal or State governments of Nigeria to blame or are they responsible? Has the Cameroonian or the authorities of other African states done enough to stem the flow of their girls to Europe to practise prostitution? Are they really fighting prostitution and child trafficking? It is difficult to give an answer.
Creepy as prostitution is, it still have many beneficiaries from unsuspected quarters. The trade is not only beneficial to the pimps who charge their victims exorbitant sums of monies, which may vary from $ 30 and $ 50 thousand, the other beneficiaries are the owners of small Hotels in the predominantly African neighbourhoods of Barbes, Chateau Rouge and Marcedet Poisonier located in the lower side of the 18th district of Paris. The next beneficiaries or the indirect ones are the manufacturers of prepaid telephone cards and individuals who have opened telephone call centres, all over the neighbourhood and thus providing jobs to many jobless people who are always discriminated in the job market in France.
Before the arrival of Nigerians, Hotels in the seedy sides of the18th district of Paris, especially those located within the above mentioned neighbourhoods were amongst if not the cheapest in the city. However, since the arrival of Nigerian pimps who are mostly drug barons based in Belgium, Germany, United Kingdom and the Netherlands who seem to be attempting to diversify their sources of income to some, while others are completely leaving drug trade, for a new less risky trade, the prices of Hotel rooms have jumped in the poverty stricken parts of the 18th district.
Bizarrely while prices of Hotel rooms have sky rocketed, it would have been normal to expect a stratospheric quality of services but ironically, they have dropped. For the pimps or the Mamas are not interested in any sort of quality services other than where their products will be housed and give them back fast returns upon investments. As for the vendors of phone cards, they have seen their sales jump because the young girls who are now the enemies of the older prostitutes have a voracious consumption thirst for telephone cards, this in order to communicate with their bosses or madams and also with their parents back home in Nigeria or in Cameroon.
Route to France
Nigerians are undisputedly the most enterprising black Africans or Africans in general. They are implacably hardworking and when they put that positive quality into crime, it surprises many westerners, principally the Italians and East Europeans who have met with the Nigerians in the under world of crime. Nigerians criminals are different from Cameroonians or other Africans. They are meticulous. These may be because most Nigerian criminals are graduates who have not been able get jobs in their native countries while criminals from other African countries in France are always mixtures of school drop outs and societal failures.
Nigerians don’t change their way of life as does most petty Cameroonians or other African fraudsters whenever they hit the jackpot. The Nigerian criminal is respectful, but fast like a leopard, hard working like an ant and poisonously vicious like a snake. To come to France or in Europe in general excluding the United Kingdom, they have several options. The first thing that they do is to get the rightful girls and secondly plan how to get them out of the country, which is apparently very simple in Nigeria.
The easiest means and methods used to trap these young girls who are mostly from the rural parts of the earlier mentioned states are mostly through an extended aunt who is link to the criminal syndicates based in Europe. She is the connecting link and the one who travels to the rural parts of the states concerned to get these girls who are poor, young and ambitious nonetheless, but sadly undereducated.
These aunts makes promises to the parents of their future victims that, their children will be taken to the capital to learn a profession and after which they would own their own businesses. Hence in most hair dressing salons in Asaba or Benin City every three months the faces of the apprentice do change. They are regularly deceived that, they will be sent to Europe to do baby sitting jobs or other trades in rich countries. Nevertheless, in some rare cases those that have been deem courageous and matured enough are briefed on what really awaits them in Europe.
But to be sure that, they won’t run away, there are forced to under take some mystical pacts that bans them from breaking the oaths that they were forced to under take, until they pay their debts at the tariff set by the gangs. As for the young girls most of the time, some are simply raped before they are send to Europe. But to get to Europe, and also to obtain a visa for these young girls from European embassies or consulates in Abuja or Lagos is almost like getting to paradise. Hence the girls are dispersed in mostly French-speaking African countries namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Morocco Niger, Ivory Coast and Senegal.
What all these countries have in common besides the French language is that, they are all very corrupt. That explains why in those countries there exist large pools of Nigerian girls waiting for their turn to get to Europe. And in these countries, because of difficulties or out right poverty ,some of these girls start practising what they will do in Europe while waiting to acquire the passports of their host nations and a visa from the embassies of the very countries which would not have offered them, had it been they applied in Nigeria.
However, within European embassies, it seems that Nigerians have their connections hence they always manage to export their products and with monies, the security officials at the airports of the host countries are forced to look the other way while they pass. The next step is that, when the girls have successfully boarded, they destroy or are advised to destroy their passports and upon arrival, they apply for asylum immediately. When the asylum procedure has begun, since it takes a while for their cases to be examined, the pimps have the leisure and the pleasure to put their slaves on the streets to work for them.
Those who want to rebel are punished and their parents back home are also punished. Most of the girls can’t report their cases because they are naïve and they have been indoctrinated to see or consider the Police of European countries where they are based as a racist group that will not listen to them but send them back home.
Interestingly, not all Cameroonians or Nigerians are in support of the evil old trade. A proof is that, in Nigeria the wife of the governor of Edo state, one of the great teenage prostitutes exporting area has set up a body to fight against prostitution. It is a positive development that must be encouraged and governments need to coordinate their actions. This is because while they are bickering, the Nigerian, Cameroonian teenage girls or those of some African states are being exploited by greedy inhumane gangs.
Vans here are not different from what they are meant for. However, it is used by those this topic deals on to serve as emergence spots for the consumers of the product that they are selling. They are found in France in parks, highways and in other strategic areas.
OFPRA stands for Office Francaise de protection des refugies et appatride.
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