Synopses & Reviews
A shocking true story of contemporary slavery: a young girl, snatched from her tribal village in Africa, survives enslavement in Sudan and London before making a courageous escape to freedom.
Mende Nazer lost her childhood at age twelve, when she was sold into slavery. It all began one horrific night in 1993, when Arab raiders swept through her Nuba village, murdering the adults and rounding up thirty-one children, including Mende.
Mende was sold to a wealthy Arab family who lived in Sudan's capital city, Khartoum. So began her dark years of enslavement. Her Arab owners called her "Yebit," or "black slave." She called them "master." She was subjected to appalling physical, sexual, and mental abuse. She slept in a shed and ate the family leftovers like a dog. She had no rights, no freedom, and no life of her own.
Normally, Mende's story never would have come to light. But seven years after she was seized and sold into slavery, she was sent to work for another master a diplomat working in the United Kingdom. In London, she managed to make contact with other Sudanese, who took pity on her. In September 2000, she made a dramatic break for freedom.
Slave is a story almost beyond belief. It depicts the strength and dignity of the Nuba tribe. It recounts the savage way in which the Nuba and their ancient culture are being destroyed by a secret modern-day trade in slaves. Most of all, it is a remarkable testimony to one young woman's unbreakable spirit and tremendous courage.
"[A] clear, compelling, first-person narrative that conveys [Nazer's] young voice with powerful authenticity....The details are unforgettable, capturing both the innocence of the child and the world-weariness of one who has endured the worst." Hazel Rochman, Booklist (Starred Review)
"[A] straightforward, harrowing memoir that's a sobering reminder that slavery still needs to be stamped out....[Nazer's] book is a profound meditation on the human ability to survive virtually any circumstances." Publishers Weekly
"[A] shockingly grim story...mercifully, it has an ending to lift the spirit....Revelatory in the truest sense of the word: told with a child-pure candor that comes like a bucket of cold water in the lap." Kirkus Reviews
"Nazer tells her story of individual dignity combined with uncommon courage." The Denver Post
"If the experiences Nazer recounts here prove true, they will stand as an important reminder of the real, lived terrors of thousands of black southern Sudanese whose stories will never be told, and whose freedom may never be won." Alex P. Kellogg, The Washington Post
"Few [memoirs] are as starkly powerful as this one: Nazer tells her story with lucid simplicity..." The Onion
"Slave constitutes an act of tremendous courage. A solitary and profoundly moving voice emerging from the most silenced of quarters." Monica Ali, author of Brick Lane
Nazer was about 12 when raiders burned her Nuba village, killed the adults, and took 31 young children, who were sold in Sudan's capital Khartoum. She tells of her years in slavery, her flight after seven years, and her attainment of asylum in Britain. British journalist Lewis helped her escape and write her story.
About the Author
Mende Nazer is approximately twenty-three years old (the Nuba keep no record of birth dates). She was granted political asylum by the British government in 2003. She currently lives in London.
Damien Lewis is a British journalist who has reported widely from Sudan and helped Mende escape. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.