Muammar al-Gaddafi left behind a mixed legacy. Serving as president of Libya from 1969 till his assassination in 2011, his time in power is mostly viewed as double-edged.
While he was criticized for being a ruthless dictator and ruling with an iron fist, others argued that his leadership brought a lot of socio-economic reforms to the north African country.
Despite these contrasting views, one thing about the dictator stood firm – he was a revolutionist, a Pan-Africanist and staunch advocate for African unity.
He championed this cause in several public appearances and his speech at the 2nd Arab-African summit in Sirte was one of them. On October 10, 2010, while addressing the summit, he apologized to Africans on behalf of Arabs for their enslavement and gruesome treatment during the Arab slave trade.
Read an excerpt of his speech and take a look at the video below:
“On behalf of the Arabs, I’ll like to condemn, apologize, and express deep sorrow for the conduct of some Arabs – especially the wealthy among them – towards their African brothers.The wealthy Arabs treated their African brothers in a disgraceful way in the past. They brought children and took them to North Africa, to the Arabian Peninsula and to other Arab regions.
They subjugated and traded in them. They engaged in slavery and human trafficking in a most abominable fashion, to tell you the truth.
We are ashamed, along with our African brothers, when we recall this. We are ashamed of those who behaved in this manner, and especially the wealthy Arabs, who viewed their African brothers as inferior slaves.
This is no different from the way the West – America and Europe – behaved towards the Africans. They would hunt them like animals, treat them like slaves, and act like colonialists. They engaged in colonialism and exploited them, and this continues to this day.
We extend our apology and express our sorrow.”
Ex Libya leader, Gaddafi, at the 2nd Arab-African Summit at Sirte, starts his speech by acknowledging and apologising for the historical enslavement and trafficking of Africans across North Africa and the Middle East by Arabs (still ongoing today).
10 October, 2010. pic.twitter.com/DiG3OWajWq
— Facts About Africa (@OnlyAfricaFacts) November 14, 2019
Starting more than 700 years before the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the Sub-Saharan Slave Trade, also known as the Arab Slave Trade began in the late 7th century after the Arabs successfully defeated and took over Egypt and soon controlled North Africa, East Africa and parts of West Africa such as Northern Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
With full control of a great part of Africa, Arabs began to capture young boys and girls and took them to Egypt where they were sold into slavery within Africa or taken across the Indian Ocean to Indonesia, China, South West Asia and India.
Captured victims in the Sub Saharan slave trade had to endure several weeks of walking through the desert carrying loads for their new masters from West or East Africa to Egypt or Zanzibar where they were eventually sold in the slave markets. Male slaves, usually between the ages of nine and 12 were also castrated.