George The Poet performing at LFJL event at the Conduit



so back in November 2017 I saw a story on the news that affected the world in a way I've only ever seen in very few situations Africans were being sold as slaves tortured for ransom thrown in graves without so much as a stone engraved everyone on social media was so engaged and so enraged all of a sudden I saw the million posts about migrants running for the Libyan coast getting trapped in the country raped beaten and kidnapped on a monthly social media support is the form of low-risk protests we can afford where we want to show solidarity from abroad is a godsend for people that are being ignored obviously it was a factor in the Arab Spring in Libya western-backed rebels galloped in challenging Gaddafi who was taken down after 42 years and now he ain't around but online activity operates within limits is writing long captions and spittin lyrics equivalent to hospital and prison visits I mean it isn't isn't still what are we supposed to do we reach for the circles of influence where closest to but the least we could do is post a poster – I mean tens of millions families friends civilians born on the wrong side of history all running from lives of misery and loss of order trying to cross a border with soldiers told to detain them on site in Tripoli the story was broken by award-winning journalist Norman Baca a young Sudanese woman pulled off an investigation police couldn't fluent in English and Arabic she went to Libya moved with caution and came back with evidence of human auctions she presented it on CNN the story bust of course as the benefits of being known as a trusted source and so into the public discourse this discovery was thrust with force people talked about Libya discussed its floors discussed all the ways in which it shuts its doors to the outside basically we took a look at the situation and had a long disgusted pause and that was it the story never stuck around for too long the news cycle moved on over here we've been dealing with breaks it every other day another lever regrets it and with the president engaged in people with intelligence agencies no one expected much from Americans basically Mugabe was overthrown and it was just another notification on my mobile phone now from the UK across the Mediterranean maybe is like twenty two hundred miles away but across the Atlantic Americas over four thousand miles away so clearly closeness doesn't equal concern if they're not ours we're leaving people to burn and the West has sown some bad seeds on the continent can't let this evil return yet the tone of indignation around immigration both in the US and in this nation shows how thorough history we all learn and every single day this planet covers twenty four thousand nine hundred and twelve miles each full turn one point six million miles around the Sun so the speed of life alone drowns out the sound of guns the sound of Western governments dishing out the funds to Libyan militias even when their hold on a city is pernicious whoever can help us keep those Africans off the coast and back in Africa will support the wildest punch it's easier than having to absorb a thousand hungry migrants and scapegoating them for violence in order to deport them out the country it's more cost-effective it's easier than admin we've all lost perspective now on top of that leave me your harbors a dark secret widespread contempt for black skin cause in limited racial interaction that's created a space create an underworld that is easy for migrants and refugees to be trapped in they just want to make it to Europe and the Libyan coast line is their closest point if they caught maybe they'll send their oldest boy the risk is better than settling so destroyed there's no hope and stagnation so at least in their imagination they can see just one of them surviving that Mediterranean Sea but something happens over that Mediterranean you go from being someone's baby to an emigrant alien arrived at a country with people hating you even though your situation was never explained to them we've seen a rise in migrants being demonized and silenced being penalized violently illegalized for feeling like there might be a life free of strife where we reside only to come and realize they have no equal rights in European eyes that's the end of the line when neighboring governments ain't spending a dime when you're everyone's problem but no one's responsibility so we can't hold anyone accountable for the fact your life is unaccounted for no national insurance no bank accounts it's like censorship I swear they just blank it out no one wants you if I'm get out and if the sea of angry faces ain't making this clear well there's always operation Sofia you guys remember operation Sofia formerly the European naval force Mediterranean targeting trafficking in an effort to rein it in see after the migrant shipwrecks of 2015 things were never the same again the focus shifted to tackle and Smuggler's as opposed to fashion and something with African governments and you know what happened because of this knife indeed no migrant lives were saved the House of Lords issued a statement literally stay in that instead of changing this situation this operation kind of drives the wave as more people taking a chance off the coastline hoping they can advance might make it to Spain might make it to France but if not you're stuck at this pit stop with this lot and you will only exist in a lonely abyss with malicious malicious and neo-colonialist s– scared in an open space but where in a poker face out there in a broken place where evil himself caught a cold you see for yourself bought and sold African bodies ransom and slavery traffickers hobbies and the last thing in your control was your non-existence now that Mirage that you saw from a distance turns out to be the solid vision of a supposedly abolished system after crossing a Sahara Desert a torrid mission you're in a squalid prison horrid isn't the word this is absurd you came in search of freedom but you're raped and cursed and BM all because you're non-existence enables your African neighbor to commodify your body and trap it in labor that very non-existence slips the mind of so many politicians the ones who declared that the region was stable invited you to come and take your seat at the table you've been on a quest to make it to the coastline ever since those Western nations gave the cosine so you you paid smugglers thousands of pounds left town told yourself if you drown then you drown that's your business and after all of this what you found in Libya was lawlessness a makeshift nation a place abandoned it's not what you heard from Obama or David Cameron about a country on his way to democracy what you see is a failing economy with no single prevailing Authority just gangsters in a state of autonomy who stand to gain if you can be used for trade to keep you a bay that's who the EU have paid they treat you this way because they need you afraid they can charge your family double the fee you have paid on the basis of fear but another way to pay the fee is straight-up slavery and a market for that because of racism here how do you make this trade disappear these guys have arrangements with Italy to catch migrants and detain them in Tripoli under operations of fear some people say you're smugglers are working under the cover of government providing a security supplement essential to power and because of shared interests they're friends for the hour but the friendship has the potential to sour if for example the government gives in to international calls to apprehend them that alliance would have to end then I wrote this in 2018 things have developed but what happens in that event then when your struggle outlast our attention spans and we go back to funding our cars and our pension plans Libya's government has 34 detention camps and the UN can't access half of them even if they could what happens after then will they be sending the troops in and if they do will there be an end to the shooting who's going to contact your family how do you combat insanity how do you even come back from that reality companionship is a form of leadership and we're all in need of it we're all we've got if your family or friends were caught in this could you switch that story off surely not entertainers and the arts can end the failures of the past if artists become advocates and audiences become activists everything I do comes back to this in life that's what my next chapter is this is what my journeys been leading to and it's what I personally been leaning to a lot of people know me as a recording artist but I've been taken long to get back to making songs because even if my tracks get great responses a better use of my talent is to provide a service for a higher purpose every time I speak to you now if you can take all that information that we just threw at you imagine what else we can do any emotion you felt listening to me it's time to put start pursuing it this is what you do with it support the people on the justice front line even if it's just this one time I want to leave you with this passing thought as a young Ugandan I love my country I was born and raised over here but I have hopes of going back over there Uganda being situated in the heart of East Africa is a region that is no stranger to coos no stranger to civil unrest but for 33 years we've been under one leader in relative quiescence now say the events of Libya prompted me to write this because they so profoundly disturbed my prospects in Uganda given that we've had this dictator for so long given that Mugabe has been ousted but she was asked it to the north of us in Sudan all of these changes happening on the continent are very real very immediate and it was an honor a relief for me to connect to the charity that is so intelligently and doggedly challenging the status quo so please support the people on the Justice Frontenac even if it's just this one time thank you very much for listening [Applause]

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