Human Trafficking/Slavery in Africa

By: Ashley Grizzard

Purpose of Project

Mockingbirds are a symbol of innocence displaying that the title, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee , means the killing of innocence. In the beginning of the novel, Scout and Jem are innocent children because they aren't exposed yet to the harsh world around them. As time passes their innocence is lost in many diverse ways. Similarly, in Bryan Stevenson's Ted Talk, "We Need to Talk About an Injustice" , he argues that we have lost our innocence in the world today by people not caring about difficult issues, taking on easier identities, saying that the problems of others are not our problems, and not talking about our past history and problems. Stevenson then states that we can reclaim our identities by thinking about others, facing issues we don't want to believe, realizing that our humanity depends on everyone else's, and knowing that everyone can contribute to the community.

Human slavery and trafficking is one of the difficult issues that we must not ignore. In modern day Africa, we need to work together not only as a nation but as a world to end this social injustice.

Modern Day "Mockingbirds"

Slavery is when people are forced to be controlled and disrespected by another human, otherwise known as their "owner" or "master." If they don't obey their commands they could be punished or killed. Human trafficking is the modern day form of slavery. It is where people value the control and sexual exploitation of others. It is sad to say that in Africa both slavery and trafficking still exist. The Daily Monitor says, "According to the latest annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report by the US State Department, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi are among the nations that remain sources and destination countries for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking". For example, Chewazi lived in Zimbabwe but was offered a chance to travel to South Africa to help with Boy Scouts. He decided to go to South Africa, not knowing that he'd be taken and forced into harsh labor on a farm everyday for a piece of bread and some water. For 6 months, he was transported between Zimbabwe and South African farms enduring physical and other abuses. In the end, Chewazi was rescued but that's not what matters. No one should have to go through such a horrible experience in the first place.

Men in these countries are destroying the innocence of those taken into slavery and trafficking against their will. The fact that injustices like these still exist in our time is sickening.

Social Context: "The Disease"

In To Kill A Mockingbird, people are infected with Maycomb's "usual disease" which is basically racism. Much of the novel is about how an innocent black man is accused of raping a white girl, and most of the white part of town is against him, therefore, they show their sense of racism. The dog Tim Johnson symbolizes the white folks or racists in the town of Maycomb.

The key issues in human trafficking and slavery is that the human life of one another isn't being valued, let alone cared for at all. Children are being taken from their homes as young as 7 years old, and are forced into harsh labor for the rest of their lives. The "diseases" being embedded in human trafficking is that people begin to think that those weaker or more vulnerable than them have no "life worth". Although most Americans are sickened by the idea of human trafficking, we do still play a role in it. We are educating people on the injustice, the government is creating stricter penalties for it, but we do play a negative role in the injustice as well. The new creations of technology make it easier for human traffickers to communicate with one another, and find more "mockingbirds" or victims.

Becoming Atticus Finch

A summary of Atticus' definition of courage is that the idea of real courage isn't a man behind a gun. It's knowing that "you are licked before you even begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what," (page 149). He displays this in the novel after Jem and Scout find out about Miss Dubose's death. He then explains that she was the bravest person he's ever known. We, like Atticus know that the social injustices are wrong and try to stand up for what we think is right. We could create or join organizations at our schools that help put an end to human trafficking and slavery. A way to reclaim our identities is to work together and end these social injustices and fix the wrongs in our world to rights.