An Open Letter to Gordon Brown by Daniel Elombah

Thank you for your proclamation that, “the best way to commemorate the end of the slave trade in 1807 is to end the slavery of ignorance in 2007. Our goal is to ensure free education for every child, building the foundation of a truly free life for every adult, and we shall commit to every child being at school and achieve it within 10 years”. The Guardian(UK), Thursday January 4, 2007


This is highly commendable. This is in harmony with your earlier Commission for Africa championed by you, Tony Blair and your friend, Hilary Ben. You have once again demonstrated your commitment to the welfare of the third world, especially Africa. Here in the UK, you have formulated policies geared towards lifting those in the lowest rung of the economic ladder out of poverty of which Africans in the UK make a greater percentage. This includes; increasing the minimum wage, adult Literacy programs, tax credits, back to work programmes among others. I can only wish you greater success in your endeavour especially as you gird up you loins, soon to assume the mantle of Political leadership.


However, your pledge for this worthwhile endeavour is a mere 8.5 billion pounds over a period of 10 years, 2p a day for every person in the rich countries. The honourable chancellor cannot claim ignorance of the fact that just one African country- Nigeria, paid about 10 billion pounds to the Paris club of creditors in repayment of old dubious debts, and Britain a prominent member of that club pocketed more that 1 billion pounds. Nigeria is poised to pay a further 2.5 billion pounds to the London Club.


Moreover, may I bring to your knowledge, that Nigeria has been enjoying Universal Free Primary Education since 1976. I don’t know where you got your statistics and your ‘Mandaras free education offering religious indoctrination as a result of the education void in Abuja, Nigeria’. Northern pupils around Abuja in Nigeria are being offered free education, free meals and Bursary awards so they could attend classes. But their country is being devastated by economic policies of the western world such as that mentioned above!


This leads me to the main thrust of this passionate letter; the existence of modern day slavery, engineered and sustained by the UK government in this country, right under your nose.


There is no gainsaying the fact that black Africans make up a huge percentage of the illegal immigrant population of this country. They left their country of origin to reside in the UK for purely economic reasons– to better their lot in life. Many of them are university graduates who through no fault of theirs are victims of the senselessness of their leaders aided and abetted by the western world.


Unlike their counterpart from other continents, these Africans don’t usually apply for, nor are they granted asylum. Thus they do not depend on state handouts to survive, but engage in very low paying jobs and are victims of massive exploitation by unscrupulous employers while they struggle to survive and pay their rents and other bills.


Because they are unable to regularize their stay, the system have made them criminals since they must patronise criminal gangs who provide them with fake documents to enable them work. Their tax rates are often as high as 25% of their earnings despite their low pay. To make ends meet, they have to take double jobs or even more. Their ancient brethren were captured against their will and forced into slavery, this modern version is voluntary!


Even those legally here don’t fare any better. You could find them, a family of five, cramped in a single room. In a family where both parents work ungodly hours, is it a surprise that their children perform poorly at school? Where they hold two jobs, work long hours for low pay, they hardly lead any social life. They are not just marginalised but are entirely excluded for the British society!


You are looking for the existence of slavery elsewhere they are right here on your doorstep!


Is it not ridiculous to have Lawyers, Engineers, and qualified professionals in other fields working as cleaners, security guards, car washers etc while vacancies exist in these sectors of the economy? They are discriminated against when they apply for jobs. Therefore you see qualified doctors working as health carers, qualified Lawyers working as paralegals and legal secretaries, IT engineers working as unskilled labourers, doctorate degree holders working as clerks and secretaries.


Take a casual survey of security guards in London, for example, that African in his high visibility yellow, may have got his masters degree. That park attendant, health carer, rail sweeper might just be a doctor or an engineer.


The greatest way to mark the end of slavery 200 years ago would therefore be to end the modern slavery in the UK by granting general amnesty to all the so called illegal immigrants- who but 25 years ago, are free commonwealth citizens that fought your wars, generated your foreign earnings while your eastern European friends of today were your enemies behind the iron curtain – And engage in positive discrimination to fully integrate then into the mainstream society.