Thursday, May 10, 2007

Slavery Today......The Story Of Francis Bok.

A Novel Excerpt By My Den
A native of southern Sudan, Mr. Bok was abducted at the age of 7 by Arab militias from the north and enslaved for the next 10 years. This is his story, a young Dinka tribesman's story of abduction, enslavement and freedom.

"My father's farm was full of family, friends and love. We had chickens, goats, cows, beautiful green trees with mangoes and coconuts as big as your head. I spent my days playing games and running in the fields. I liked to follow my father as he worked the fields. I felt my father's love every day."

" At the market, people had already set up in the shade. The market smelled of fish, fruit and vegetables. I made some sales from my stock of boiled eggs and peanuts. Something changed, suddenly, people became to walk faster, talking to each other. Smoke can be seen rising from the villages. The Murahaliin are coming!.

Men with guns were entering the town. Men on horses, shooting with their rifles, slashing people with their swords, chopping off heads with a single swipe. Someone grabbed me from behind - a murahaliin, yelling and waving his gun. He pushed me back together with other boys and girls. Everyone was crying and screaming for their parents. There were no Dinka men standing, everywhere i turn, i saw blood running from them like water in rivers."

"We rode away, the silence of the night broken by my sobs. I kept thinking how my father and big brother Buk will save me from these people. We finally came to a farm.

The militiaman name was Giemma Adullah, an Arab of lighter skin. I now know i am in northern Sudan where no Dinka lives. What i did not know was that this was my first day of slavery - forced to work for no pay but the garbage from the family's dinner and beatings from Giemma's cattle whip. My job was to herd the animals into the forest, keep them from running away and get them back to their pens at the end of the day.

For the first few weeks i cried everyday but i replaced crying with praying when i realised my crying did not bring anyone to help me. I prayed to God : Please help me. I love my parents and i don't want to die.'

Mr. Francis Bok was to spent his next 10 years in enslavement, forced to work and live like an animal. He lost his childhood to a cruel and vindictive master. He tried to escape twice but was caught. He did not had his hands or legs amputated, the usual punishment for trying to escape, not because his master was kind but found him useful. He succeeded the third time when he was 17 years old.

"That morning i herded out with the cows as usual. As soon as they started grazing, i ran as fast as could towards Mutari. I was farther away from Giemma than i had been in ten years. I was hot, tired and dirty but i felt relief and excitement.

With the help of friends, i crossed the Egyptian border and reached Cairo. There i was accepted as a UN-sanctioned refugee and in Aug 1999, went to America. I eventually learned that my parents and two sisters were killed but my older brother Buk survived. After 13 years, i finally talked to him."

Closeted in my little island i called home and caught up in the maddening rat race, the story of Francis Bok touched me profoundly. It makes me........human again.

This article is my contribution towards raising awareness of the situation in Sudan where more than 200,000 people in Darfur have been killed and more than 2.5 million made homeless in four years of bloody attacks by Arab militias.

Today, Mr. Francis Bok works for American Anti-Slavery Group, which speaks out against slavery in Sudan and throughout the world. Visit their website and spread their mission. His book is now available at "My Den's Book Store".

*Excerpts adapted from "Escape from Slavery" by Francis Bok.

Read more short stories by MyDen: A Life Unlive


Jim said...

oh my god, the image of the child at the top struck me.
The more I stare at it, I just want to give that child a hug, and tell him he is loved.