Mende Nazer's happy childhood was cruelly cut short at the age of twelve when the Mujahidin rode into her village in the remote Nuba mountains of Sudan. They hacked down terrified villagers, raped the women and abducted the children. Mende was them. She was taken and sold to an Arab woman in Khartoum. She was stripped of her name and her freedom. For seven long years she was kept as a domestic slave, an 'abid', without any pay or a single day off. Her food was the leftover scraps and her bed was the floor of the locked-up garden shed. She endured this harsh and lonely existence without knowing whether her family was alive or dead, for seven long years. Passed on by her master, like a parcel, to a relative in London, Mende eventually managed to escape to freedom. Slave is a shocking first-person insight into the modern day slave trade. It is also a fascinating memoir of an African childhood and a moving testimony to a young girl's indomitable spirit in the face of adversity.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Slave is the inspiring true story of a Sudanese girl sold into slavery in 1994, at age 12. After enduring seven crushing years as a captive domestic worker, Mende Nazer was shipped to London, where she eventually managed to escape. Although her “owners” tried to crush her spirit, this extraordinary, resilient woman lived to recount her devastating experiences—and shed light on a pressing human rights issue.
Born into the Karko tribe in the Nuba mountains of northern Sudan, Nazer has written a straightforward, harrowing memoir that's a sobering reminder that slavery still needs to be stamped out. The first, substantial section of the book concentrates on Nazer's idyllic childhood, made all the more poignant for the misery readers know is to come. Nazer is presented as intelligent and headstrong, and her people as peaceful, generous and kind. In 1994, around age 12 (the Nuba do not keep birth records), Nazer was snatched by Arab raiders, raped and shipped to the nation's capital, Khartoum, where she was installed as a maid for a wealthy suburban family. (For readers expecting her fate to include a grimy factory or barren field, the domesticity of her prison comes as a shock.) To Nazer, the modern landscape of Khartoum could not possibly have been more alien; after all, she had never seen even a spoon, a mirror or a sink, much less a telephone or television set. Nazer's urbane tormentors mostly the pampered housewife beat her frequently and dehumanized her in dozens of ways. They were affluent, petty and calculatedly cruel, all in the name of "keeping up appearances." The contrast between Nazer's pleasant but "primitive" early life and the horrors she experienced in Khartoum could hardly be more stark; it's an object lesson in the sometimes dehumanizing power of progress and creature comforts. After seven years, Nazer was sent to work in the U.K., where she contacted other Sudanese and eventually escaped to freedom. Her book is a profound meditation on the human ability to survive virtually any circumstances. may spark increased curiosity in this urgent subject.