Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill & Escape from Slavery by Francis Bok

Slavery still exists, both in the past and in the present. The first  book to read is one from my 2010 book list that is worth revisiting. Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill is steeped in facts about slavery in America and some information was completely new to me: the establishment of a colony of freed slaves, Black Loyalists, in Nova Scotia with the help of the British during the war between the Colonies and King George. Did anyone out there know that?  Hill tells this important history through Meena, an African woman, who recalls her experiences of slavery and freedom to abolitionists in London.

Kidnapped from Africa as a child, Aminata Diallo ( Meena) is enslaved in South Carolina, but escapes during the chaos of the Revolutionary War. She tells her story from the days of growing up with two loving parents in a small village ( in what is now Mali) then her capture by another tribe and sold to whites on the African coast. Her recounting of the slave ship and the arrival in America is detailed and very sad. Eventually she finds “freedom” in Manhattan, she becomes a scribe for the British, recording the names of the blacks, The Book of Negroes, who have served the King and earned their freedom in Nova Scotia. But the hardship and prejudice of the new colony prompt her to follow her heart back to Africa, then on to London, where she testifies about  the injustices of slavery, her life story and helps the abolitionist movement in Britain. It is a story that no listener, and no reader, will ever forget!  ( From Freedom to Slavery, by Nancy Kline, NY Times Review, Jan. 20, 2008).

But if you think slavery is a part of the past, please read the next recommendation! Escape from Slavery by Francis Buk is his account of enduring 10 years of slavery in the Sudan. It is a riveting narrative and heartbreaking. I read his book before I heard him speak at  Marin Catholic High School . He is a gentle, very humble, man who chooses not to forget those who still remain in slavery into today’s modern world.  Francis Buk is one of my heroes. He  bears witness to the slavery that exists today and is committed to ending it.

Seven Year old Francis Piol Bol Buk was living with his family on a farm in southern Sudan. One day in 1986, he was sent by his mother to sell eggs and peanuts in the marketplace. There in a slave raid, he was kidnapped from his contented life and thrown into a difficult, horror filled existence in slavery by rich Muslim Arab farmers in Northern Sudan. Buk’s family was  murdered during the raid. He lived in a barn with animals for ten years and forced to work for the owners. He escaped at age 17, and made his way to Cairo and became a UN refugee. He was resettled in the U.S. in 1999. He adjusted to life in US but could not forget the life he left behind in the Sudan. The persistence of slavery in the modern world can’t be ignored and Buk is committed to helping free slaves and free southern Sudan from the Arabs in North Sudan. Buk worked with an American antislavery organization and testified before Congress about the atrocities in the Sudan. Now Francis Buk is working on building a school in the new southern State of Sudan and ending slavery.

Today the estimates for slavery is upwards of twenty-seven million people which includes- child labor, human and sex trafficking, forced labor and chattel slavery. Slavery exists in Haiti, Sudan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand to name a few, and many other places in the  world. America and Europe contribute to slavery by ignoring or purchasing from groups/ countries that benefit from slavery’s economy.(map) Thank you  Francis Buk, Aminata Diallo  and Lawrence Hill for sharing your history and stories. And that is my 2 cents for today, Tracy.

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