An American-Nigerian author and novelist, Gbenga Sokefun, says African leaders have through bad governance, created a continent that makes human trafficking attractive.
Sokefun, the author of a fiction, “Adigun”, published by Build Universes, made this remark while speaking on the book on Sunday in Lagos.
Decrying human trafficking in all it’s forms and shapes, the author, said that African leaders must beam searchlight on human trafficking of the boy-child, saying girl-child trafficking had received good attention globally.
According to him, the phenomenon of human trafficking, being a major theme in the book, is as old as human society.
He said the menace was receiving global attention and considerable political effort was being applied to the fight against it.
The author said that the focus of global efforts had been primarily of female children in general, including African female children trafficked for purposes of prostitution and other forms of indentured servitude.
Sokefun, also a lawyer and industrialist, said:”Trafficking of the African male child has received far less attention, despite the simple fact that it exists.
“The pressure of poverty and the inherent psychological damage of colonialism has resulted in a brisk trade of young African boys and men, under the auspices of narcotics smuggling.
“The perpetrators had created a pathway for the African male child, whose solution to the inadequacies of the continent is to escape to the greener pastures of the America, Europe and anywhere away from the continent of Africa.”
According to him, the perpetrators prey on the dreams and desires of these gullible children, who seek a better life in other continents.
“They offer alternatives to the common avenues for illegal migration – stowing away on merchant vessels, walking miles into the Sahara, or visa violation.
“This is exploiting the reality that the coming of age of the African child has become indistinguishable from the desire to reach the western world.
“Therein lay the catalyst that fuellled my desire to write my book “Adigun” . It reveals these evil and the consequences apart from portraying beauty of various Nigerian cultures,” the author added.
Calling for the creation of a better African society with good leadership, Sokefun said that there was need for more education, enlightenment and national reorientation against male child trafficking.
He said: “We can see how an 11-year old boy can be led by adults to get on a plane without parental consent.
“They get on planes to America, suitcase laced with drugs, innocent kid just wants to go for the reasons that we created, as a continent.
“We have created a country that is making leaving attractive. We have created a country that is pushing us out; that we need to address.
“So, male child trafficking is one area that I thought needed a little bit more attention.
“We need to find a way to create more enlightenment about the boys. The boys are being trafficked too.”
Sokefun decried that many of these boys had become the new drug barons and criminals.
“Our boys in the inner cities are being offered tickets and given narcotics to carry across borders to countries beyond, and that needs to stop.
“People need to know about it. People need to see what the loophole is.
“We need to move closer to our boys and realise that they need protection as nobody talks about the boys,” he said.
On the increasing number of people seeking to leave Nigeria for western world in search of greener pastures, the author said that so many citizens were being deceived.
According to him, many young Africans are daily being deceived to seek greener pastutes and are ignorantly excited about going to America, Germany, UK and others.
He said: “The statistics are horrible about how boys are just moved into boats to cross to Europe.
“Boys have been enslaved. These statistics are there, and they are very mind boggling and very worrisome. Africa, especially Nigeria needs national orientation.”
He, however, expressed confidence that President Bola Tinubu, would be able to address the challenges of Nigerians ‘seeking greener pastures’ having lived both outside and within the country for many years.
Sokefun called on the President to reverse the current trend of ‘Japa syndrome’ which had led many of the productive nation’s population taking their flight out of the country.
“Exactly 90 per cent of people who leave find out when they get there that the grass is not green as painted. A lot of them don’t know what they are getting into,” he said.
Noting that every country had their challenges, Sokefun said that Nigerians would soon be all right.
He said that with good leadership across states of the federation as well as incentives for the people, African youths would not be running to leave the continent.
“The moment we create a country where all the governors are creating an environment for all Nigerians to live in, we will become just like America where the ‘eagles’ are living,” he said.
‘Adigun’ is a sprawling saga that describes the experiences of two West African boys, Adigun and Chike, forced by different (though related) circumstances to spend their late teens and early adulthood in separate western counties-one in the UK and the other in the US.
From the sun-drenched, tropical paradise of the Nigerian town of Jobore, to London, Chicago, Washington, Amsterdam, and Maryland, they both struggle with self-discovery under the dual burdens of survival in foreign lands and contending with the pressures of their native cultures.
Both stray to the edges of criminality. Both cross the line, each dealing with blurred moral lines in their distinct ways and end up reuniting with surprising answers to their questions about what is really important in life.
Both of the main characters face the fundamental challenges of becoming men under the extended shadows of their fathers.
For Adigun, this challenge includes the psychological schism caused by trying to reconcile his loyalties to his biological father and his adoptee father.
Chike is determined to break free of his billionaire father’s control and build his legacy, reputation, and fortune. He breaks several rules to achieve his success until he discovers secrets about his father that bring him closer to the man, and ultimately to his inheritance.