Are More Important?
“After all, what makes any event important,
Parliament passed the Bill to abolish the slave trade in
the British colonies. However, slavery still continued in
other parts of the world, and even the Civil Wars which
pursued did not stamp it out. These new desires for
civility by a conscience-stricken society started the
metamorphosis of slavery. We would now see another
form of enslavement manifesting itself, in a way that
would persist even unto this very day.
Some of our early records show us that the long dark
history of slavery had its most identifiable roots in the
Middle East, as a consequence of wars and conquests,
and still remains a prevailing tool for wealth and power.
Profiteers, drug dealers, governments, gambling
institutions, religions and sex dealers thrive on the
addictions that enslave people to their cause. Although
slavery was finally abolished in the Americas in 1888,
there are many millions of people still in some form of
chains of bondage, or be branded with the mark of his
master, but he would now experience a more
devastating form of slavery. It would be one that would
enslave him in a way that he would not so easily
escape. The new masters are now able to enslave us by
shackling our mind.
People are enslaved to fiction, lies, idols; the ideologies
portrayed by rap music (which includes the denigration
of women); addictions and even one’s own beliefs. Now
more than ever we should take heed to scripture, which
Give glory to God before [He] cause darkness, and before
your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while
you look for light, it is turned into the shadow of death,
and made gross darkness.
But if you will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret
places for your pride and my eye shall weep sore, and
run down with tears, because God’s flock is carried away
captive. Jeremiah (13:16,17 NKV)
Today, it is estimated by experts that approximately 27
million men, women and children endure brutal
working conditions, for no money, under the constant
threat of beatings, torture, and rape. Contrary to popular
belief, slavery didn’t end with Abraham Lincoln in 1863,
but continues in countries on all six inhabited
year. These figures, although staggering, show that there
is a clear appetite for modern day slavery to continue.
Can it be true that many have become numb to the
horrors it represents or are we all sleepwalking in a
state of denial, seemingly bemused by its continuance?
the facts surrounding slavery are:
the complicity of some governments and the
ignorance of much of the world.
Slavery,” former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
called human trafficking “the fastest growing criminal
enterprise in the world.”
are women and children.
$9 billion every year. Around the world, trafficking in
women for commercial sex purposes nets $6 billion
per year. The trade of human flesh is so lucrative that
authorities complain that even as they close in on one
smuggling ring in the US, another one pops up. ii
dehumanizing, universally condemned practice?
challenges to the concept of humanity’s understanding
and acceptance of what is morally good and acceptable.
One challenge is that slavery today takes on many
subtler forms than it did during the Atlantic Slave Trade
- including sex trafficking, debt bondage, forced
domestic or agricultural labour, and chattel slavery
making it tougher to identify and eradicate.
In our world today we ask the question “Whose rights
are more important, those of the bourgeoisie or the
proletariat, the free or the enslaved, the rich or the
The dark reality that faces the modern day abolitionist is
that many people condone slavery because it allows
them to achieve the greatest prize of a corrupt human
‘will’: money and power over their fellow man.
Despite their early efforts to end the slave trade, men
such as Lord Grenville (who in February 1806, formed a
Whig administration), his Foreign Secretary, Charles Fox
and William Wilberforce - all influential in the House of
Commons and Lords during the early nineteenth century
- would discover that the addiction of slavery would
prove a very difficult habit to change.
But due to their persistence and resolve they would go
on to set the example, which would serve us unto this
very day, that through determination the scourge of
slavery can be overcome. History showed us that Fox
and Wilberforce led the campaign in the House of
Commons, and Grenville had the task of persuading the
House of Lords to accept the measure. There he made a
passionate speech where he argued that the trade was
“contrary to the principles of justice, humanity and
sound policy” and criticised fellow members for “not
having abolished the trade long ago”. 111 We too must
continue to stand up and be counted.
Church including the black-led Pentecostal churches,
which when faced with the appeal of other religious
organisations to unite under the banner of
ecumenicalism and to be embraced with arms of
acceptance, discover that the soundness of this potential
association is tested? Tested, that is, when the realisation
dawns that some of those organisations that present a
face of respectability and piety, have at their very core,
the practice of slavery in some form or another.
acceptance while turning a blind eye to that which is
wrong, even though we are fully aware that their
women and children are treated like third class citizens
with no rights, or that they practice and condone child
abuse whether sexually or otherwise? And when they
are challenged, they move to rebuff the accusations, by
adopting the ‘victim status’ and hide behind the laws
which protect them from discrimination, and to further
kick you into touch they say that this attack on their
practices is an attempt to erode their ancient cultural and
religious rights — what do we do then?
statements of the claimants that “these are their ancient
customs and practices”, in these instances the churches
must challenge them, if they truly believe in fairness,
respect and equality.
But this in itself could pose a problem for those
organisations that operate almost as exclusive clubs,
where people are only accepted as members if they fit
their specific criteria and are prepared to accept their
idiosyncratic practices. We see this demonstrated very
clearly in those religious organisations where individuals
feel that they will only be accepted if they look, act and
sound like everyone else.
different forms of control and rule. They have rules that
both encourage and restrict membership whether
knowingly or unknowingly. This phenomenon has its
roots in history and can he traced back to the rise of the
black-led churches following the abolition of slavery and
the ensuing Christianisation process of the ex-slaves by
the white missionaries.
was considerable in terms of cultural and political
domination of the people. Although the missionaries’
task was to make people accept the Bible and its
teachings, Christianity was turned into an ideology,
which could be used to convince people not to resist
Religion was used to legitimise, maintain and even
promote political tyranny and oppression, as well as in
other instances, liberation of a people who saw it as an
opportunity to have a sense of freedom and
independence from the slave masters. In the words of
Charles Villa-Vicencio, “religion has functioned both as
continued under the guise of Christianity. Over time,
this process had the effect of causing fear and suspicion
among the black people as they still experienced racism
and segregation in the early churches. As a result they
split away and formed their own congregations, where
they felt free to worship un-oppressed. However, this
so-called freedom and liberty in these modern day
churches is still an interesting topic for further debate.
Today the churches are urged to stand in the forefront
and to defend the rights and freedom of everyone,
particularly when it comes to equality and fairness.
Our women and children are more vulnerable when it
comes to exploitation and abuse; it is therefore
incumbent on the men who have long dominated the
social agenda, to ensure that they fulfil their roles — to
be just, good loving partners to their wives and caring
fathers to their children. It is only when we do the right
thing that God will reign supreme in our lives.
American anti-slavery group, page 101 (see note 2
Slavery group — a non-profit organisation that works to
abolish modern-day slavery around the world focusing
primarily on systems of chattel slavery in Sudan and
Mauritania; their website has been used in preparing this
article. The address of the AASG is 198 Tremont
St#42lBoston, MA, USA 02116.
Villa-Vicencio, Charles (1989) “Right Wing Religion: Have