A review of Slave by Mende Nazer, written for Anti-Slavery Day in 2015.
Sometimes I think for all the advancements of the contemporary world, we are no better than some of the horrors that have lived before us. We can look back at the history of slavery, the slave triangle and all the barbarity that went with it, we can look back with disgust and feel a little bit more evolved, but are we that advanced, are we really that different? 18 October, marks Anti-Slavery Day, which aims to provide:
…an opportunity to draw attention to the subject and to pressurise government, local authorities, public institutions and private and public companies to address the scale and scope of human trafficking.
This barbaric treatment of human beings is still very much a part of the world we populate. Let’s take a closer look at one story, narrated in the shocking memoir Slave by Mende Nazer.
Imagine in adulthood having to learn how to brush your teeth, buy food and groceries, utilise public transport. Having to completely re-educate yourself in the art of just living, loving, caring, simply being human. This was the task Mende Nazer was faced with when she escaped from being a slave.
Her shocking life story began in the Nuba Mountains, a tranquil, simple existence immersed in nature, farming and storytelling around the fire. Until raiders attacked her village and she was bound into chattel slavery, where people are treated as the personal property of an owner, and are bought and sold as commodities. She was sexually assaulted and sold to an Arab family in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. Mende was forced to sleep in a dingy hut and treated inhumanely.
Nietzsche stated that,
Man is the cruelest animal
A dictum that is more than apparent in this tale.
Her captor labelled her as ‘Yebit’, which translates as a girl worthy of no name. Her childhood consisted of cooking, cleaning and looking after children when she was but a child herself. In 2000, Mende was given as a gift to a diplomat in London where she escaped, only to be embroiled in a new struggle for asylum and liberty. Mende Nazer’s harrowing story reminds us we have a moral obligation to ensure this kind of cruelty towards our fellow human beings is wiped out for good. Totally eradicated!
Perhaps, to mark Anti-Slavery Day, have a read of this tale. A disturbing insight, it emphasises the power of human tenacity, the fighting spirit.
If this review of Slave by Mende Nazer has interested you in the book, UK readers can buy a copy from an independent bookshop near you via this affiiate link. This site may earn a small commission if you do.