December 1, 1834, slavery was abolished in the Cape Colony. Around the world, people are watching, often aghast, more often with clenched jaws and more, Twelve Years a Slave, and then talking, or not, about the back-then. It’s not the back-then. White dominated nation-States continue to weigh the value of Africans’ bodies and then invest. Take the case of Ifa Muaza as a most recent, but by no means isolated, example.
Ifa Muaza is a ‘failed’ asylum seeker in the United Kingdom. He is Nigerian, and claims he is in danger of being killed by Boko Haram, who, he says, has already killed two members of his family. Muaza has been diagnosed as psychotic, and he suffers severe depression. He also suffers from hepatitis B, kidney problems and stomach ulcers and so needs both a special diet and, more generally, special care.
And what better place for that than an immigration removal detention center? In October, Muaza was deemed medically unfit to be detained. The State, and its corporate sponsors, said, “Whatever,” and kept him locked up.
Three months ago, Muaza started a hunger strike. Doctors have ruled six times that he’s too sick to be imprisoned. More recently, he was deemed to sick to travel. Again, the State, and its corporate sponsors, replied, “Whatever.”
And so the Home Office, under Theresa May, hired a private jet with basically only one passenger on board. Ifa Muaza. The plane was not allowed to land in Nigeria nor in Malta. And so Ifa Muaza was returned, on a stretcher, to Harmondsworth immigration removal centre. Call it what it is. Harmondsworth prison … and worse.
“The flight is estimated to have cost the Home Office £95,000- £110,000.” And then there are the sundry costs of detention, in a private facility; legal processing fees; and the general business of keeping a man caged, beaten, and on death’s door.
An African man seeks assistance. He is thrown behind bars, often shackled. He fasts in protest. He is shackled and shipped out on the next charter flight. Exactly what is the going rate these days, on the ‘open market’, for African bodies? Ask Theresa May.