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Slavery in modern Africa

Slavery in Africa continues today. Slavery existed in Africa before the arrival of Europeans - as did a slave trade that exported millions of Africans to North Africa, the Middle East, and the Persian Gulf.


[edit] Chad

IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports children being sold to Arab herdsmen in Chad. As part of a new identity imposed on them the herdsmen "...change their name, forbid them to speak in their native dialect, ban them from conversing with people from their own ethnic group and make them adopt Islam as their religion."[1]

[edit] Mali

The Malian government denies that slavery exists. Slavery still continues with some Tuaregs holding Bella people.[2]

There have been references to sex slavery too in 2010 in BBC reports.[3]

[edit] Mauritania

A system exists now by which Arab Muslims -- the bidanes'own black slaves, the haratines. An estimated 90,000 black Mauritanians remain essentially enslaved to Arab/Berber owners.[4] The ruling bidanes (the name means literally white-skinned people) are descendants of the Sanhaja Berbers and Beni Hassan Arab tribes who emigrated to northwest Africa and present-day Western Sahara and Mauritania during the Middle Ages.[5] According to some estimates, up to 600,000 black Mauritanians, or 20% of the population, are still enslaved, many of them used as bonded labour.[6] Slavery in Mauritania was criminalized in August 2007.[7] Malouma Messoud, a former Muslim slave has explained her enslavement to a religious leader:

"We didn't learn this history in school; we simply grew up within this social hierarchy and lived it. Slaves believe that if they do not obey their masters, they will not go to paradise. They are raised in a social and religious system that everyday reinforces this idea.[8]"

In Mauritania, despite slave ownership having been banned by law in 1981, hereditary slavery continues.[9] Moreover, according to Amnesty International:

"Not only has the government denied the existence of slavery and failed to respond to cases brought to its attention, it has hampered the activities of organisations which are working on the issue, including by refusing to grant them official recognition".[10]

Imam El Hassan Ould Benyamin of Tayarat in 1997 expressed his views about earlier proclamations ending slavery in his country as follows:

"[it] is contrary to the teachings of the fundamental text of Islamic law, the Quran ... [and] amounts to the expropriation from muslims of their goods; goods that were acquired legally. The state, if it is Islamic, does not have the right to seize my house, my wife or my slave."[11]

[edit] Niger

In Niger, where the practice of slavery was outlawed in 2003, a study found that almost 8% of the population are still slaves.[12] Slavery dates back for centuries in Niger and was finally criminalised in 2003, after five years of lobbying by Anti-Slavery International and the Nigerian human-rights group Timidria.[13] More than 870,000 people still live in conditions of forced labour, according to Timidria, a local human rights group.[14][15]

Descent-based slavery, where generations of the same family are born into bondage, is traditionally practiced by at least four of Niger's eight ethnic groups. The slave masters are mostly from the nomadic tribes ' the Tuareg, Fulani, Toubou and Arabs.[16] It is especially rife among the warlike Tuareg, in the wild deserts of north and west Niger, who roam near the borders with Mali and Algeria.[17] In the region of Say on the right bank of the river Niger, it is estimated that three-quarters of the population around 1904-1905 was composed of slaves.[18]

Historically, the Tuareg swelled the ranks of their slaves during war raids into other peoples' lands. War was then the main source of supply of slaves, although many were bought at slave markets, run mostly by indigenous peoples.[19][20]

Francis Bok, former Sudanese slave. At the age of seven, he was captured during a raid in Southern Sudan, and enslaved for ten years.[21](Courtesy Unitarian Universalist Association/Jeanette Leardi)

[edit] Sudan

Sudan has seen a resurgence of slavery since 1983, associated with the Second Sudanese Civil War.[22]

Slavery in the Sudan predates Islam, but continued under Islamic rulers and has never completely died out in Sudan. In the Sudan, Christian and animist captives in the civil war are often enslaved, and female prisoners are often used sexually, with their Muslim captors claiming that Islamic law grants them permission.[23] According to CBS news, slaves have been sold for $50 a piece.[24] In 2001 CNN reported the Bush administration was under pressure from Congress, including conservative Christians concerned about religious oppression and slavery, to address issues involved in the Sudanese conflict.[25] CNN has also quoted the U.S. State Department's allegations: "The [Sudanese] government's support of slavery and its continued military action which has resulted in numerous deaths are due in part to the victims' religious beliefs."[26]

Jok Madut Jok, professor of History at Loyola Marymount University, states that the abduction of women and children of the south by north is slavery by any definition. The government of Sudan insists that the whole matter is no more than the traditional tribal feuding over resources.[27]

It is estimated that as many as 200,000 people had been taken into slavery during the Second Sudanese Civil War. The slaves are mostly Dinka people.[28][29]

[edit] Child slave trade

The trading of children has been reported in modern Nigeria and Benin.[30] The children are kidnapped or purchased for $20 ' $70 each by slavers in poorer states, such as Benin and Togo, and sold into slavery in sex dens or as unpaid domestic servants for $350.00 each in wealthier oil-rich states, such as Nigeria and Gabon.[31][32]

[edit] Ghana, Togo, Benin

In parts of Ghana,among the Ewe people a family may be punished for an offense by having to turn over a virgin female to serve as a sex slave within the offended family.[33] In this instance, the woman does not gain the title of "wife". In parts of Ghana, Togo, and Benin, shrine slavery persists, despite being illegal in Ghana since 1998. In this system of slavery, sometimes called trokosi (in Ghana) or voodoosi in Togo and Benin, or ritual servitude, young virgin girls are given as slaves in traditional shrines and are used sexually by the priests in addition to providing free labor for the shrine.[34]

The orgaization "Free The Slaves" (which "liberates slaves around the world, helps them rebuild their lives and researches real world solutions to eradicate slavery forever.") has organized in June 2010 an event in Ghana against Slavery.,[35] especially against child slaves.[36]

[edit] Ethiopia

Mahider Bitew, Children's Rights and Protection expert at the Ministry of Women's Affairs, says that some remote studies conducted in Dire Dawa, Shashemene, Awassa and three other towns of the country indicate that the problem of child trafficking is very serious. According to a 2003 study about one thousand children were trafficked via Dire Dawa to countries of the Middle East. The majority of those children were girls, most of whom were forced to be sex workers after leaving the country. The International Labor Organization has identified prostitution as the Worst Form of Child Labor.[37]

In Ethiopia, children are trafficked into prostitution, to provide cheap or unpaid labor and to work as domestic servants or beggars. The ages of these children are usually between 10 and 18 and their trafficking is from the country to urban centers and from cities to the country. Boys are often expected to work in activities such as herding cattle in rural areas and in the weaving industry in Addis Ababa, and other major towns. Girls are expected to take responsibilities for domestic chores, childcare and looking after the sick and to work as prostitutes.[37]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ IRIN Africa: Cbin: Children sold into slavery for the price of a calf
  2. ^ Kayaking to Timbuktu, Writer Sees Slave Trade
  3. ^ BBC reports
  4. ^ Islam and Slavery
  5. ^ Fair elections haunted by racial imbalance
  6. ^ The Abolition season on BBC World Service
  7. ^ Mauritanian MPs pass slavery law
  8. ^ The Johns Hopkins News-letter 'SMIR talk exposes modern slavery' - Brendan Schreiber and Maria Andrawis, 5 December 2003
  9. ^ "The last law, in 1981, banned it but failed to criminalise it. However much it is denied, an ancient system of bondage, with slaves passed on from generation to generation, still plainly exists." Steady progress in Mali and Mauritania, The Economist
  10. ^ Slavery: Mauritania's best kept secret
  11. ^ Segal, p.206, in "Islam's Black Slaves: The Other Black Diaspora," quoted by Suzy Hansen of Salon.com on 5 April 2001 - http://archive.salon.com/books/int/2001/04/05/segal/index.html . The book cite is Ronald Segal (2002) http://www.amazon.com/Islams-Black-Slaves-Other-Diaspora/dp/0374527970/
  12. ^ Born to be a slave in Niger By Hilary Andersson, BBC Africa Correspondent, Niger
  13. ^ On the way to freedom, Niger's slaves stuck in limbo
  14. ^ Set my people free
  15. ^ NIGER: Survey finds over 870,000 are still slaves
  16. ^ Born into Bondage
  17. ^ Fresh hope for slaves as Tuareg chief frees 7,000
  18. ^ Slavery in Niger
  19. ^ NIGER: Slavery - an unbroken chain
  20. ^ The Shackles of Slavery in Niger
  21. ^ Public Speakers || Francis Bok || Speaking Matters, a Speakers Bureau || Powerful Lectures, Personal Narratives, Transformative Stories
  22. ^ The Middle East Quarterly. December 1999, Vol.6:Number 4. John Eibner, 'My career redeeming slaves'
  23. ^ Islam and Slavery
  24. ^ "Curse Of Slavery Haunts Sudan". CBS News. 25 January 1999. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1999/01/25/world/main29927.shtml. 
  25. ^ "Danforth to be named U.S. envoy to Sudan". CNN. 4 September 2001. http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/04/us.sudan/index.html. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  26. ^ . http://archives.cnn.com/2000/US/09/05/state.dept.religion/index.html. [dead link]
  27. ^ Jok Madut Jok (2001), p.3
  28. ^ War and Genocide in Sudan
  29. ^ The Lost Children of Sudan
  30. ^ West Africa's child slave trade
  31. ^ West is master of slave trade guilt
  32. ^ Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery - Nigeria
  33. ^ Slavery in Ghana. The Trokosi Tradition
  34. ^ Ghana's trapped slaves, By Humphrey Hawksley in eastern Ghana, 8 February 2001. BBC News
  35. ^ http://celebs.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978297189
  36. ^ http://www.statesman.com/news/nation/newsmakers-jesse-james-juggling-a-few-legal-battles-744156.html
  37. ^ a b "Ethiopian Slave Trade". http://www.africanholocaust.net/news_ah/ethiopianslavetrade.html. 

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