Six months after Muhammed Yusuf had been sold, tortured and forced to watch as a friend died, he found himself back at the parched, dusty bus station where his ordeal began, facing the man who had made him a slave.
Unembarrassed and unrepentant, the smuggler was still touting for business among the crowds flooding into Agadez, an oasis town on the fringe of the Sahara desert in central Niger that has for centuries been a trading centre and gateway to shifting paths across the desert.
“I told him ‘my friend died in Libya because of you’,” Yusuf said a few days after the meeting. Then, desperately hungry, he asked him for some food…
Yusuf, a 24-year-old Nigerian, was one of thousands of people who had travelled to Libya looking for work, or hoping to sail to Europe, who were instead sucked into a grim and violent world of slave markets, private prisons, and brutal forced brothels.
Notice, he essentially says, “You killed my best friend, made me into a slave, and ruined my life!… Hey, do you have something to give me to eat?” That is an r-strategist. His friend was killed right in front of him. He was totally screwed by someone with no morals. And just like a dead rabbit next to another rabbit’s dead body, he doesn’t care. All he can think about is grazing. To a K-strategist, that is the makings of a blood oath of vengeance. But not to a rabbit.
Which makes me wonder, is enslaving r-strategist migrants bad? They are kind of psychologically designed for it. They are programmed to either be the slave traders, or to be the slaves. Give them power, and they will ruthlessly tell everyone what to do and what to think. Take their power, and they will buckle under and do anything to save themselves, while appeasing their tormentors gratuitously.
If the choice is to make an r-strategist a slave trader, or a slave, I don’t think there is anything morally wrong with seeing them enslaved.