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Official Whitehouse photo by Pete Souza

Who Should We Blame for Slavery in Libya?

Obama has said Libya was his "worst mistake." Africans are paying for it with their freedom.

The reports have been out there for months—African migrants in Libya are being sold as slaves in open-air markets. But it only reached the wider public consciousness recently after CNN obtained video of humans being auctioned off like cattle in an undisclosed part of Tripoli.


While the situation is multifaceted and difficult to parse, some people are certainly more to blame than others—the Libyan slave dealers, of course, and the people that allow such monstrous acts to happen on their watch. But as I write from the United States, it's appropriate to point fingers at the guilty parties closer to home—the architects of America's Libyan intervention which overthrew the Moammar Gadhafi regime and intensified Libya's descent into the chaos from which it has yet to recover. I'm talking about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Obama has called the follow up to America's Libya intervention "his worst mistake" pointing out that they had utterly failed to plan for what happened after Gadhafi's removal. According to the Atlantic, he's been known to refer to the whole Libyan episode as a "shit show." To be clear, he's not sorry for leading the NATO regime change squad, just the inaction afterwards.

Then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, purveyor of hawkish nonsense like, "We came, we saw, he died," has been less contrite defending the move during her presidential campaign as "offering help." And while Clinton became the focus of right-wing conspiracy theories around the Benghazi embassy attacks, her real legacy is in pushing hard to convince skeptical members of the Obama administration that regime change in Libya was necessary even as the American disasters in Afghanistan and Iraq loomed in the background.

Libyan slave auction photo A screenshot from a Libyan slave auction video obtained by CNN.

The logic of "humanitarian intervention," the 21st century's focus-grouped term for imperial plunder, is hard to counter but it must. While it's possible that the United States could someday operate a foreign policy based on humanitarian interests, it's clear from the evidence that these military excursions have almost nothing to do with "helping" and everything to do with the hard foreign policy interests of the world's only military superpower.

While anti-black racism in Libya is a given, full-blown racialized human trafficking was not part of Gadhafi's Libya. For all his faults, the colonel worked hard to position himself as an African leader and this meant a society that was at least superficially open to those with Sub-Saharan origins.

So who is to blame for the open practice of slavery in Libya? Well, the slavers obviously. But we must also acknowledge how the American habit of committing to violent regime change in the global south—a doctrine embraced by all sides of the American political establishment, is a vicious cycle of plunder and death with decades or even centuries of brutal consequences.

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Ilwad Elman (Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images for BET)

These Two Young African Women Were Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

Ilwad Elman and Hajer Sharief have made the favored list for winning the prestigious award.

This year's nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize are out and among the names are Somalian social rights activist Ilwad Elman and Libyan law student Hajer Sharief. The Nobel Peace Prize, first awarded in 1901, is said to honor "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations and the abolition or reduction of standing armies and the formation and spreading of peace congresses" according to the Nobel Prize organization. What's even more impressive is that both women are on the short list of the Director for the Peace Research Institute Oslo–the list is thought to highlight the strongest contenders for the prize according to those who work in the field.

The two women, Elman, 29, and Sharief, 26, have been important catalysts for peacebuilding in their respective countries. Both are part of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's initiative Extremely Together, which brings together 10 young change makers from around the world, as well as have appointed positions from former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

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This Song By Nigerian Artist Rema Made It On the Obamas' 2019 Summer Playlist

The rising hitmaker's debut single got a major cosign from the former president.

Rema is one of the Nigerian music's most promising new artists, and it seems that even Barack and Michelle Obama have taken notice.

The 19-year old artist has been included on the former first couple's annual summer playlist, which lists 44 tracks that their listening to from a variety of genres and time periods.

While the singer is best known for his breakout hit "Dumebi," which is arguably one of the most popular afropop singles of the year, the Obama's went with the artist's debut single "Iron Man" for their 2019 playlist. The artist thanked the Obamas, on Instagram, writing "Nigeria to the world."

"With summer winding down, here's a sampling of what Michelle and I have been listening to — some new, some old, some fast, some slow," wrote the former president on Instagram.

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Yilian Canizares & Paul Beaubrun in "Noyé." Photo: Ben Depp.

The 13 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Makwa x Maraza x AKA, Joeboy, Zlatan, Nadia Nakia, TOBi x The Game, Yilian Canizares, Aewon Wolf and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Trump Plans to Extend Travel Ban to Nigeria, Tanzania, Sudan, Eritrea & Three Other Countries

Here's what the travel ban could mean for these nations.

On Tuesday is was announced that Donald Trump's administration plans to extend its infamous travel ban to include seven new countries, many of them in Africa.

The countries named on the list, include Nigeria, Tanzania, Sudan and Eritrea, as well as Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, and the Eastern European nation of Belarus. Politico first broke the news.

According to The Washington Post, the move would likely not be a complete ban on citizens looking to enter the US, however it could place various visa restrictions on some government officials and on those seeking certain type of visitor and business visas.

Some nations could also be banned from participation in the diversity travel lottery program, which grants green cards. Trump has threatened to sack the program in the past.

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