Thomas Awiapo

Thomas Awiapo on Modern Day Slave Trade

A couple of days ago, I had another opportunity to visit the Cape Coast Slave Castle – the warehouse where millions of Africans were stored awaiting shipment to the Americas and Europe.

As I walked through every corner of the slave dungeons and listened to the tour guide, in my own mind at that moment.  I was thinking about human trafficking – the slave trade of our time.

slave castle

Cape Coast slave castle in Ghana. Photo courtesy Julius Cruickshank

Yes, my tour guide at the slave castle said the transatlantic trade was abolished in the early 18th century.  I would say, “No, it has been replaced by human trafficking – a heinous crime against humanity.”

It was a unique experience for me to visit the slave dungeons. It was easy to condemn the slave masters of the transatlantic trade and wish that they be punished appropriately. However, I must hasten to admit that I actually left the slave castle in shame and feeling as guilty—if not more guilty—than those people who engaged in the slave trade centuries ago.

What was my shame and guilt about? It was about human trafficking, a hidden trade that is growing and spreading like wild fire across the world and targeting the most vulnerable of our human society as its victims. It’s about my own helplessness in the face of human trafficking vis-à-vis my moral responsibility to fight it.

Just take a moment and think about the dehumanizing enterprise of human trafficking across the world. It violates the most fundamental and basic human rights! Believe me or not, human trafficking is one of the fastest growing, most profitable but criminal businesses in modern times. It respects no boundaries.  Human trafficking surpasses the transatlantic slave trade to all the four corners of our planet.  It is hard to believe, but, it is estimated that millions of people have been victims of modern day slavery across the world with the greatest victims being the poor and the most vulnerable.

How long should this go on before we speak up, before we act?

Human trafficking deserves our undivided attention and collaboration to fight it.  We need to fight it with every ounce of energy we’ve got!  It’s a moral responsibility and history will judge you and me for what we do now and always to fight human trafficking.

The great 18th century British statesman and political thinker Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I will say all that is necessary for human trafficking to triumphant over justice, freedom, fairness and the dignity of the human family is for you and me to do nothing.

As a moral obligation to fight human trafficking, I echo the prayer of Dom Helder Camera, “I want to believe that, the whole world is my home, the field that I sow and that all will reap what all have sown.  And that I will not be free while even one human being is excluded.”

– Thomas Awiapo
As a child in Ghana, Thomas Awiapo was a beneficiary of CRS school feeding programs. Now, as an adult, he works for CRS Ghana and travels to the U.S. annually to tell his inspiring story to American Catholics at schools, parishes and communities. Thomas will be a featured guest blogger and will be reporting from Ghana about the issues he witnesses firsthand.

Watch the video: Empowered for Life: The Thomas Awiapo Story.

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One Response to “Thomas Awiapo on Modern Day Slave Trade”

  1. Bob Harper Says:

    Thomas — Thank you for reminding us again of the most important things that deserve our “undivided attention and collaboration.” We are very aware of the crime of human trafficing, but you remind us to take action, and we will. I beleive some individuals from St. Bede Church will be be visiting Ghana soon. Fr. Rudy is here for a mission appeal and stayed with us the other night. Everyone here is well and we hope that you, Felicia and the children and doing well too.
    Much love, Bob and Joan

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