Escape from Slavery: The True Story of My Ten Years in Captivity and My Journey to Freedom in America

Escape from Slavery: The True Story of My Ten Years in Captivity and My Journey to Freedom in America

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by Francis Bok, Edward Tivnan
     
 

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In this groundbreaking modern slave narrative, Francis Bok shares his remarkable story with grace, honesty, and a wisdom gained from surviving ten years in captivity.

May, 1986: Selling his mother's eggs and peanuts near his village in southern Sudan, seven year old Francis Bok's life was shattered when Arab raiders on horseback, armed with rifles and long

Overview

In this groundbreaking modern slave narrative, Francis Bok shares his remarkable story with grace, honesty, and a wisdom gained from surviving ten years in captivity.

May, 1986: Selling his mother's eggs and peanuts near his village in southern Sudan, seven year old Francis Bok's life was shattered when Arab raiders on horseback, armed with rifles and long knives, burst into the quiet marketplace, murdering men and women and gathering the young children into a group. Strapped to horses and donkeys, Francis and others were taken north, into lives of slavery under wealthy Muslim farmers.

For ten years, Francis lived alone in a shed near the goats and cattle that were his responsibility. Fed with scraps from the table, slowly learning bits of an unfamiliar language and religion, the boy had almost no human contact other than his captor's family. After two failed attempts to escape-each bringing severe beatings and death threats-Francis finally escaped at age seventeen, a dramatic breakaway on foot that was his final chance. Yet his slavery did not end there, for even as he made his way toward the capital city of Khartoum, others sought to deprive him of his freedom. Determined to avoid that fate and discover what had happened to his family on that terrible day in 1986, the teenager persevered through prison and refugee camps for three more years, winning the attention of United Nations officials and being granted passage to America.

Now a student and an anti-slavery activist, Francis Bok has made it his life mission to combat world slavery. His is the first voice to speak for an estimated twenty seven million people held against their will in nearly every nation, including our own. Escape from Slavery is at once a riveting adventure, a story of desperation and triumph, and a window revealing a world that few have survived to tell.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Seven-year-old Francis Piol Bol Buk was living happily on his family's southern Sudan farm. One day in 1986, he was sent on errands to the marketplace. There, a slave raid ripped him from his contented life and threw him into a wretched existence serving under a northern Sudanese Arab. After he escaped at age 17, Buk made his way to Cairo with a black market passport incorrectly listing his name as Bok and became a U.N. refugee allowed to settle in the U.S. in 1999. Although he found contentment in Iowa among other refugees, the following year Bok decided to work with an American antislavery organization, and testified before Congress about the atrocities in Sudan. While this is a remarkable story, its power is conveyed most effectively through Bok's simple retelling. His sincerity compels, especially when he describes the decade of mistreatment he endured. After two failed escape attempts, he's told he'll be killed in the morning, and while bound, he thinks of the morning ahead: "I would be dead and finally through with this place and this family. My mind preferred death." Yet when his master changes his mind, Bok immediately starts plotting again. For all his emotional strength, though, Bok remains humble. He thanks God and everyone who helps him escape slavery. This is a powerful, exceptionally well-told story, equally riveting and heartbreaking. Although legal strides have been made, with the help of people like Bok, the persistence of slavery in the world makes this a work that can't be ignored. Maps, photos not seen by PW. Agent, Jim Levine. (Oct.) Forecast: An author tour, a print advertising campaign, and broadcast and print publicity should stoke interest in this important book. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Bok, abducted from his African village at age seven, became the first escaped slave to testify before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. With a ten-city author tour. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A harrowing memoir in the gothic, almost surreal setting of what some Africans do to other Africans. Born to what he recalls as a blissful, unschooled childhood in southern Sudan, Piol Bol Buk (his Dinka name) was seven in 1986 when he made his first trip alone from his tribal village to the local marketplace. It was his last. For centuries, even, as the author claims, before there was Islam, Arabic people in the vast country’s north have claimed and exercised the right to raid the black settlements to the south for booty, cattle, and human chattel. Kidnapped into slavery by an Arab militiaman as the family goatherd, Bok spends his first traumatized weeks almost in a trance, sleeping on the ground in a crude hut, barely able to eat (the usual fare: meat gone bad). Crying, complaining, and recalcitrant behavior are corrected by swift beatings. Promoted to cowherd by age 12, he twice attempts to escape and is ultimately recaptured and told he will be shot in the morning. His master relents—"He needed me too much," Bok recalls—but finally, after ten full years of captivity, he gets away. The accrued psychological trials are tortuous: learn Arabic to survive; after escaping, relearn Dinka and try to locate the parents you haven’t heard of in a decade. Unable to find word of his parents and in constant fear of informants who at one point label him an opponent of the government, Bok makes his way to Cairo and eventually, through the UN refugee program, to the US. He is the first escaped slave to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a practice that, overlaid by Africa’s longest running civil war and the indifference of a now Islamist government (some Dinka areChristian), persists, unbelievably, to this day. Halting, traumatized account of cruelty and suffering. Author tour. Agent: Jim Levine/James Levine Communications
From the Publisher

“A gripping story of terror and triumph.” —Ebony

“A touching modern-day slave narrative...an inspirational story meant to heighten support for the antislavery movement of the 21st century, and it most likely will.” —Joanne Skerrett, The Boston Globe

“Gripping...mindblowing. A-.” —Karyn L. Barr, Entertainment Weekly

“Incredible.” —Lewis Beale, USA Weekend

[Escape from Slavery] carries the uncalculating ring of truth.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“How will the world respond to Francis Bok's true story? Some will welcome its commercial profitability and entertainment value. And some will seek to change the world.” —Anne Grant, Providence Journal

“Francis Bok is too young for anyone to predict a life of immortal dimensions. But if his heart-rending and powerful memoir...has just one-tenth of the impact of [Frederick] Douglass, his name will be remembered by more than a few.” —Cary Clack, San Antonio Express-News

“This is a powerful, exceptionally well-told story, equally riveting and heartbreaking. Although legal strides have been made, with the help of people like Bok, the persistence of slavery in the world makes this a work that can't be ignored.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Bok's saga provides another--more contemporary--perspective on slavery for Americans reckoning with their own troubling history of such inhumanity.” —Booklist

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429971010
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/01/2007
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
780,285
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

Escape from Slavery

The True Story of My Ten Years in Captivityâ"and My Journey to Freedom in America


By Francis Bok, Edward Tivnan

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2003 Francis Bok
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-7101-0



CHAPTER 1

THE RAID


I have told the story many times about that day in 1986, when my mother sent me to the market to sell eggs and peanuts: the day I became a slave. But, as I begin to tell my story here, I realize that I have never before discussed how happy my life was just hours before it changed forever. Too many bad memories left no space for the good ones. Yet, before the misery, loneliness, and constant fear that my childhood became, before the ten years when my only friends were Giemma Abdullah's goats and cows, I remember my father's farm in southern Sudan, where every day seemed full of family, friends, and love. I was only seven years old in 1986, and now that I am in my twenties I have many questions about those days, which that little boy in far-off Africa cannot answer. But even as a mere seven-year-old, I was aware that my life was good and might get better.

It was not so for everyone in our village, and I felt sorry for the poor who lived there. Sometimes people would come to our farm to beg for milk and cheese. We had plenty of both; we had chickens, goats, sheep, and cows; we had beautiful green trees with ripe yellow mangoes that we could pick off and eat, and coconuts as big as your head. My family grew peanuts and other kinds of beans. We were surrounded by green fields of sorghum where I would play with my sisters, Amin, who was twelve, and baby Achol, who could barely walk. We lived in two large houses — one for the men, the other for the women — made from mud and topped by straw roofs shaped like upside down cones. Even the cattle had their own hut with a roof of straw to keep them warm in the winter and to protect them from the rain. Our farm was full of life — animals, plants, families — and there a little boy could do almost anything that he wanted.

I did not go to school. No one in my family had any formal education; I don't think I knew what a school was or what happened there. I had heard the word "school," but all it meant to me was a place that some kids from the village had been sent to in Juba, the capital city of southern Sudan, near the borders of Zaire and Uganda. In Gourion, my village, there was no school, and like most little Dinka boys, I spent my days in a pair of shorts, nothing but underwear really, no shirt, barefoot, playing with my sisters and friends.

We played alweth: We would run off and hide in the fields, leaving one of us to find the others. And when he found someone, he would chase them and try to touch them — hide-and-seek, Dinka style. We also had our own kind of baseball or cricket, called madallah. All we needed was a stick and a chunk of rubber the size of a hockey puck, made either from the heel of an old shoe or from an old car tire. Then we made teams — four on a side — and someone threw the puck and another hit it, and someone else tried to hit it back, as hard as possible. The point was to keep the rubber in the air. Whoever missed it, lost. Madallah is a game of energy and power, and I loved playing this game.

If I was lucky, my eighteen-year-old brother John — I called him by his Dinka name Buk — would let me watch him and his friends at their games. In the evening, when it was cooler, the big kids played jeddi. Ten boys, five to a side. Each boy would bend a leg at the knee and hold it by the ankle, jumping around on one leg within a big circle. The aim was to get one person on your side past the others by blocking and preventing them from pushing him over. My little friends and I also played jeddi. If we got a good game going, other kids would come to watch and want to play. That would increase the excitement of the game, and all of us would try even harder to impress the audience.

One of my favorite activities was making little cows. The Sudanese measure wealth in terms of how many cows you have, and little boys like me created our own herds out of the clay from the ground. My brother was very good at this, and he taught me how to take a handful of mud and sculpt it into a miniature cow. My friends and I spent hours sitting in the village under a tree making animals, sometimes goats and sheep, but mainly cows. Days passed unnoticed; in the morning I would begin molding the clay and suddenly it was time to go home to eat. Each of us made a shelter for our cattle, which we were allowed to leave right there in the village in a special place until the next sculpting session.

But what I liked to do most was follow my father around the farm. If he was digging in the fields, I began digging. If he was pulling sorghum grasses from the ground, I tried to pull them, too.

"Go play with your friends!" he would say. But I wanted to help my father, and he seemed to be pleased that I liked to work at his side. I felt my father's love every day. He had eight children, four older than this eager seven-year-old running in his shadow. But he always talked to me, encouraged me. He often would hug me and hoist me up on his shoulders and let me ride him on his visits to his friends in the village. "What do you want, Piol?" he asked me every night, and "What do you need, Piol?" every morning. That he had named me "Piol" was an honor. It was a favorite name in his family, the Dinka word for "rain." Francis was my Christian name, but in my village I was Piol Bol (my father's name) Buk (his father's name).

One day my father called me by a new name, muycharko, which means "twelve men." I asked him, "Why do you call me muycharko?"

He laughed at my question. Then he explained that out of all his children I was the one who wanted to work the hardest, the child who always got what he wanted, the one who would never give up.

"You are like twelve men," he said. "I think you will be a successful man. I think you will be able to do something important when you grow up."

I felt my father's words flow into my body and fill me with happiness. I had never heard my father say such a thing to any of his other children. My father thought I could be a great man, so I dreamed of being a great man with a big farm and many cattle.

I had heard people in the village refer to my father as ajak, which in the Dinka language means "rich man." We had hundreds and hundreds of cows, sheep, and goats. The story was that, to marry my mother he had to pay eighty cattle as a dowry to her family. He also had another wife for whom he paid more than a hundred cattle. We kept a hundred and fifty or so in the large hut near our houses, and a thousand head more grazed in the grasslands a long walk away from the family compound. (My father's other wife Marial and their four children lived nearby and tended his other herd. I visited them often and Marial was a second mother to me.)

My father often went to Juba to buy and sell livestock. He also had traveled to other countries in Africa, places with strange, beautiful names like Kenya and Uganda, where they did not speak the Dinka language. I, too, dreamed of traveling to those places — and others. I would be ajak like my father Bol Buk, who owned what seemed to me the best farm in Gourion, a village of the Dinka people near the River Lol, in the state of Aweil, in the Bahr al-Ghazal region of southwestern Sudan, about sixty miles south of what the maps call the Bahr al-Arab River (the Dinka call it the Kiir), the border between the north and south of Sudan.

When my mother told me that she had instructed the other kids in the village to bring me along on their trip to the nearby market town of Nyamlell, I saw it as the first step to becoming the important man my father thought I could be. This would not be my first visit to Nyamlell. My father had taken me to the Nyamlell market to trade animals and sorghum, and my mother often walked there on market days, balancing a huge tin of milk or cheese on her head. A few times she had brought me along to help her sell our extra milk and cheese and buy other things that the family needed.

Our family also attended a Catholic Church there, the same church I was baptized in. I never knew why my father was a Christian, or when he became one; perhaps his family had joined the church generations before, during the British colonial era in Sudan. Christian missionaries had been encouraged to travel through the south to help the people, and representatives of various denominations built churches and schools, preaching the gospel to the Dinka. Today, about twenty percent of the people of southern Sudan call themselves Christians, adopting the version of Christianity of the local missionaries who happened to move to their area. My parents were probably baptized into the Roman Catholic Church because the closest church to our village was the Catholic one in Nyamlell. I have no idea why they chose the name "Francis" for me, though I am now aware that there are several famous saints with that name. Our family did not go to services every week. Attending mass, I will confess, was not my favorite activity as a seven-year- old. I quickly got bored with the ceremony, and my father would let me leave to play outside with the other little kids.

On market day, Nyamlell was filled with people, a whirl of sounds and smells that did not exist on our farm. Nyamlell made my skin tingle. Today I would be on my own. I knew my mother was giving me a big honor, and I wanted to prove that she was right to trust me to sell her hard-cooked eggs and peanuts. I would show her — and my father — that I was a great trader in the making.

The other kids turned up, about ten of them, including my eleven-year-old friend Piol Kvol, and two twelve-year-old girls named Nyabol and Abuk, both of whom my mother trusted to supervise me. I was wearing my shirt to reflect my responsibility. She handed Kvol the pole with two tins of eggs and peanuts attached to it and gave me my instructions.

"When you sell something," she warned, "give the money to the older children so you do not lose it." She also set the rules: The trip to Nyamlell was about business, not fooling around in the marketplace with new playmates. I must listen to the big girls, Nyabol and Abuk.

"Yes, yes," I said and grabbed the carrying pole from Kvol. They were my goods to sell, and if I was big enough to go to the market without my parents, I was strong enough to carry two tins of hard-cooked eggs and peanuts. I adjusted the pole to my shoulder for the right balance, and we set off on our adventure, the children from Gourion marching to Nyamlell on official business.

We walked toward the sun along a dusty road, across the river called Lol, and soon we could see on the hill up ahead the buildings and trees of Nyamlell. I adjusted my pole for the final stretch to the market where I would get a good price for my mother's eggs and peanuts. After all, I was Piol Bol Buk, also known as muycharko — "twelve men."


When we arrived at the marketplace, people were already set up under the shade of the trees and a dozen or so lean-tos made from burlap and sticks. It was still the dry season, when the sun is very hot in my country. The marketplace smelled rich — the fresh meat hanging by the stalls, the fish, the fruits, the vegetables, the fresh tobacco leaves on sale, all those odors mixed with the sweat of the people. (Every time I smell tobacco, I am back in Nyamlell on market day.) Flies buzzed around the meat and fish and pestered the little half-naked kids running around the area, laughing and pushing each other. But there was no playing for me, just selling. I was excited to get my trading career started.

The big kids picked a spot under a tree. It was late afternoon. In my country, we do not care about the time. No one had a watch. When the sun went down, it was time to go home. Even a seven-year-old knew that. There was plenty of light in the sky, and I had several hours ahead of me to sell my eggs and peanuts under the shady trees of Nyamlell. People approached the Gourion kids to check out our goods. They asked for prices, and when we told them, they tried to negotiate.

"Why are these eggs so expensive?" they complained. I did not know. Kvol and Nyabol had been told how much we could sell our food for, and they helped me make sure my customers did not get too much of a bargain.

The sun moved down in the sky. I made some sales, and gave the money to Kvol, just as my mother had said. I was selling more eggs than peanuts, but the people kept coming into the marketplace, hundreds of people, and I was sure they would buy all my food. Maybe I would also have time to play with the kids from the other villages who were running around the stalls.

Then something changed. People began walking faster, talking to each other rather than looking at the food. They seemed excited; some were pointing toward the river. I continued to sell my eggs and peanuts, but something was going on. I could not help listening to what the people were saying:

"Smoke" I heard, and "in the villages." Something had happened in the villages. The trees in the marketplace blocked our view of the river and plains below Nyamlell, but people now arrived from the part of town with a clear view of the villages to the west. What they saw worried them.

"There was big smoke," I heard someone say. All the children were listening, and more people came running into the market with news.

"Too much smoke for it to be only one house burning," one person said. Another added, "There was a storm of smoke rising from one village."

A storm of smoke?I wondered what that meant.

"Maybe the murahaliin came," I heard someone say. "They came and burned the houses." I was not sure what they meant. Murahaliin? I had heard people in my village talk of these "militia" from the north, dangerous men with guns who killed people and stole their cattle. There had been some kind of "war." But these were people I did not know, and I had never seen these murahaliin. I was seven years old, enjoying my first trip to the market on my own, selling my mother's hard-cooked eggs and peanuts.

But people had stopped buying. They were no longer looking at what we were selling. The adults understood what the others were talking about, the people who saw "the storm of smoke" rising from the direction we had just come from, from the village of Gourion, my village, where my family was.

The customers began to rush from the marketplace. The other sellers began gathering their things. Before the children from Gourion could decide what to do, we heard strange noises, bursts of loud sounds — tut-tut-tut-tut, tut-tut-tut-tut!

Suddenly, everyone was running in every direction. "The murahaliin are coming!" And wherever the people scattered, they ran into men with guns entering the marketplace. First men on horses, shooting people with bursts of fire and smoke from their rifles. Then men on foot, running and shooting and slashing at people with their long knives. Not ten men, not twenty, but many more, more than I knew how to count, maybe hundreds of men riding and running into the marketplace, shooting and hacking people to the ground with their swords.

They were not Dinka people, but those my father had called "Fuur." I had seen them in the market before, black men, but with lighter skin than ours, in their headdresses and robes, who came from the north on camels loaded with the important things we do not have in southern Sudan — salt, sugar, tea. I had also heard people call these men (I had yet to see one of their women) djellabah, for the djellabah, or hooded cloak, they wore.

"Who are those men?" I once asked my father. He explained that they also lived in our country but were different from us; they had a different religion, were Muslim rather than Christian. According to my father, there were many of these kinds of people he called Juur — Arabs — in northern Sudan, whose border was several hours by horse from our village. Today, the Arabs did not come with their tea and sugar; they had brought guns and swords and were shooting Dinka men, slashing with their swords, chopping off heads with a single swipe. I had never seen such violence before, rifles that shot so many bullets at once. On our farm, to protect our livestock we kept old rifles that shot one bullet at a time.

And I had never heard so many screams.

"Run!" yelled Nyabol. "Leave your things and run!" I raced from the marketplace — and right into a huge horse with a militiaman pointing a gun at me. I stopped; I could not move. The thing that scared me most was a big horse, and here was the biggest horse I had ever seen standing in front of me like a wall topped by a man with a rifle screaming at me in a language I could not understand.

My heart was trying to leap from my body.

Someone grabbed me from behind. Another Arab, yelling at me and waving his gun. What was he saying? My mind was not working. I was sure he was going to kill me. All around me, I saw people screaming and falling on the ground and not getting up. But he pushed me back toward the marketplace with the other kids, boys and girls, those who could barely walk along with five-year-olds and bigger kids like me, ages seven to ten. Everyone was crying and screaming for their parents. I was crying, too. What was happening to us? The older kids, including my friends Kwol, Nyabol, and Abuk, were herded into another group and the women into a third. They were all crying. The Dinka men were lying all over the marketplace.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Escape from Slavery by Francis Bok, Edward Tivnan. Copyright © 2003 Francis Bok. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Francis Bok is twenty-three-years old and an Associate at the Boston-based American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG). In 2000, he became the first escaped slave to testify before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in hearings on Sudan. He speaks throughout the United States, has been featured in The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, Essence magazine, and on Black Entertainment Television, and he recently met with President George Bush at the White House. He lives in Boston.

Edward Tivnan has collaborated on and is the author of several books. He was a reporter and staff writer for Time Magazine and helped create ABC's 20/20. He lives in New York.


Francis Bok is twenty-three-years old and an Associate at the Boston-based American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG). In 2000, he became the first escaped slave to testify before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in hearings on Sudan. He speaks throughout the United States, has been featured in The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, Essence magazine, and on Black Entertainment Television, and he recently met with President George Bush at the White House. He lives in Boston.


Edward Tivnan has collaborated on and is the author of several books. He was a reporter and staff writer for Time Magazine and helped create ABC's 20/20. He lives in New York.

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Escape from Slavery: The True Story of My Ten Years in Captivity and My Journey to Freedom in America 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
jessearias More than 1 year ago
This book pretty much puts to bed the argument that slavery is just an American thing. Francis Bok knows that slavery is just not an American thing, it is an African thing and he witnessed it first hand by being a slave himself. A great story of triumph over tragedy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
msargent More than 1 year ago
This is a book everyone should read. Mr. Bok's story is as inspiring as it is incredible. I will never forget his father's words to his small son, words that would help him persevere through his ten years of slavery and eventually escape from his northern Sudanese captors: "You are never one, you are always two." Because of his faith in God, Mr. Bok knew he was never alone and was given the strength to risk everything by running from his captors and eventually settling in America thanks to the United Nations. Sudan is now two countries, but the conflict there is not over, and neither is the centuries-old practice of abducting children as slaves. As hard as it is to believe that slavery could still exist in the twenty-first century, Mr. Bok's story is proof that it does. The West must do all it can to stop this horrible, demeaning, and dehumanizing practice. But first we must be made aware of it. Thanks to Mr. Francis Bok, with assistance from Mr. Edward Tivnan, we now can be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
regina77004 More than 1 year ago
During the "invisible" civil war in Sudan two million southern Sudanese have been killed and 4.4. million displaced. Women and children not casualties of the war often ended up as slaves. One of those slaves was a seven year old Dinka boy, Francis Piol Bol Buk (Francis Bok). For the first seven years of Bok's life learned a strong work ethic that earned him the nickname "twelve men", was a quick study, and received encouragement from father. Bok was told repeatedly that he would one day do something great. Bok was insulated from the tension of centuries of tension between the North and the South. Then, on his first unsupervised trip to the market Bok world is turned upside down as "Murahaliin" descended on the market, killing the men, and sweeping up the women and children. Children who resisted were dealt with swiftly. When two sisters would not stop crying one was shot in the head and the other had her leg cut off. Bok, however, was taken into slavery. For the next ten years Bok used the lessons of his early childhood to learn Arabic, work hard enough to be indispensable, and plan his escape. This is a fascinating first-hand account of a subject of which most people have only vague knowledge (including me). While not a difficult read, Bok does an excellent job of unfolding his story through his eyes, giving a very brief of the history of the conflict, and sharing the hope that many around the world still find in America. The subject matter is heavy but there are opportunities for an occasional smile. A young Sudanese's experience with the snow of Fargo, North Dakota can help but break the tension a bit. I really appreciated Bok's reflection on the subject of slavery in American's history. I was particularly struck by Bok's statement to President George W. Bush at the signing of teh Sudan Peace Act, " I also want to remind you that you are the first president in 150 years t meet wtih a former slave-myself." (pg 269). Bok has been accused of being Anti-Muslim. While he unapologetically embrases his faith and believes his safety is due to God's providence, he also relates the assistance offered by individual Muslims once he escaped.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MWSchwartz More than 1 year ago
Mr. Bok begins his disturbing and moving testimony with the raid on his village market in his home country of Sudan by Arabs seeking to enslave the Christian black Africans of the Dinka tribe. The adults were slaughtered and the children taken for forced labor, to be the slaves of wealthy Muslim Arabs in the north. In May of 1986, at the age of only seven, he was forced into a lonely and painful servitude, separated from his family forever, during which he was subjected to beatings and unbelievable subjugation at the hands of his supremacist masters. After ten years of slavery and two failed attempts at escape he finally broke free, making his way to relative safety only to be imprisoned again for speaking the truth about his story and the horrors he witnessed. After spending seven months on a dirty prison floor he was released, warned not to speak of the issue again. Refusing to be silenced by the Sudanese government who sanctioned the widespread atrocities, with the help of God he fled to America in 1999 where he reluctantly but quickly became an iconic figure in disclosing the truth about the genocide in Sudan and fighting slavery around the world. His words depicting the little-known truth of this abomination, created by the Islamofascist movement in his home country that forcefully silences such disclosure, have touched a sensitive nerve here in the US where the reality of terror and the great threat of radical Islam has also been recently experienced. He has spoken at the White House and before the Senate, on television and radio, in front of audiences large and small, boldly telling his eye-opening story to all, facing and refuting his critics who attempt to cover up the disturbing truth of what has become known as the epitome of modern-day slavery, a horror once thought abolished forever. May his quest to one day return to a free Sudan be blessed and the mission of all anti-slavery groups be fulfilled. This book is an absolute must-read for all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Francis Bok wrote this story in a way that made it possible to enjoy reading about such a horrific time in his life, that it almost makes you feel guilty for liking it so much. He also writes with such detail that it made me feel like I was right there watching him and wanting to help him.This book was very hard to read, but I believe it was definitely worth it. I think anyone who can really handle the truth about the evil in our world should read this book for the knowledge and enlightenment you will gain. Francis Bok is such an Amazing man I respect him so much for now dedicating his life to help others in the same situation
Guest More than 1 year ago
As I go through the internet search I come across this title of a book that I have read through and found motivational, given the fact that it was a first hand experience of the writer I find it motivational and inspiring to read through. I'm a Kenyan Luo by tribe I have a lot of interest on measures of ending the conflict in Southern Sudan, I feel so close to Sudanese people and I look forward to working as a missionary, humanitarian aid worker or whatever area and oppoertunity that God will lead me to serve the people of Sudan and alleviate their suffering. I'm inspired by the determination of Sudanese people mainly from the South to carry on with live despite hardships...
Guest More than 1 year ago
The cruelty that Francis Bok experienced at age seven defies civilized human conception. One day in 1986, his mother Marial sent him to Nyamlell¿s market from their Southern Sudan Dinka village of Gourion to sell eggs and peanuts. His father Pial Bol Buk had recently called Francis 'Muycharko' -- ¿like twelve men.¿ He would be successful and achieve something important. Eventually, his father¿s hope proved prophetic. But in 1986 Francis could count to no more than ten and still played alweth and Madallah -- Dinka hide-and-seek and cricket. His mother sent older friends to supervise his first independent market trip. The Catholic boy nicknamed Piol, for rain, that day lost his childhood and world to the murahaliin. After torching the nearby villages and slaying their inhabitants, 20 light-skinned Juur horsemen charged into Nyamlell. They severed the heads of all Dinka men with single sword strokes, left them rolling in the blood-soaked market dust and stole Piol¿s older friends Abuk, Kwol and Nyabol. A rifleman permanently silenced a crying girl with a bullet to her head. A swordsman more ¿mercifully¿ sliced off her sister¿s leg at the thigh like the branch of a small tree. Francis tried to flee. Terror squelched his cries. He was halted at gunpoint, grabbed and slung astride a small saddle, crafted specifically (as he later recognized) to carry abducted children, and ridden far north. After President Bush signed the toughened Sudan Peace Act on October 18, 2002, Americans became increasingly aware of Islamist Sudan¿s government support for mass enslavement and genocide of Southern Sudanese Christians and animists. But few have noted that Francis Bok¿s experience--and the ongoing Arab and Muslim genocide against 2 million Southern Sudanese Dinka--are merely modern manifestations of Islamic Jihad tradition established by Islamic jurists and rulers--from the Caliphs to the Ottomans, to current-day tyrants like Sudan¿s Hasan at-Turabi. ¿Jihad,¿ wrote Rashad Ali in Khilafah Magazine in December 2001, ¿is the removal of obstacles, by force if necessary, that stand between people and Islam.¿ He terms this violent Jihad the practical means of spreading Islam, and pronounces it compulsory to all Muslims. It is also, he writes, ¿continuous and will always be so.¿ Francis Bok recognized in his treatment a kind of systematic, institutionalized cruelty. He was beaten, forced to tend and sleep with animals, fed rotting meat, and cursed as a jedut¿maggot¿even after his master pressed a Muslim name and prayers upon him. Abdul Rahman ironically means ¿servant of the compassionate one.¿ But there was not one second of compassion during Bok¿s 10 years of captivity, although he was one of the lucky ones. He many times tried to escape, and failed. His penalties were mere beatings. Other Dinka escapees routinely lost their limbs when recaptured. Giemma Abdullah threatened the same; Bok didn¿t believe him, until he saw other Dinkas, limbless. Finally, at 17, Francis Bok took the cows one morning, and from the road near their grazing area ran all the way to Mutari. After further privations and imprisonments, Bok finally hid in a truck en route to ed-Da¿ein, fled to Khartoum, to Cairo, and as a refugee, in 1999, to the U.S. He landed in the U.S. poor, illiterate, and 20. But as Bok quite naturally also admits, he was like all Jihad's victims, unaware of the institution¿s name, much less its history. During 10 long years of enslavement by Giemma Abdullah in Kerio, Bok learned soon enough that the Arabic word abeed carried three meanings--slave,¿ ¿black¿ and ¿filth.¿ Half his lifetime among Muslims taught him that they considered themselves better than Southern Sudanese infidels. But this hardly educated him on the jihad institution to which his 20th century captors and masters subjected him. He did not recognize himself as an inferior, non-Muslim dhimmi. As Bok later learned, however, the privations he suffered track those exper
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent read, with a lesson even more powerful than expressed in the Title. This book waste no time in capturing your heart with its passionate detail and moving message. It is filled with unimaginable hurdles that were conquered through faith and persistance. A modern day hero's tale. My heart was truly pounding as I read each chapter, especially the early chapters set in Africa.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not only did I get to meet Muycharko in one man, Piol, but I sobbed internally reading this book. I couldnt believe how quickly I grazed through it cause as soon as you begin you cannot let go. Please read this book at a cost even if you beleive slavery should exist.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I ran into this book at a local store this weekend. I saw the word slavery and looked at the person on the front cover and was surprised that the picture was not medieval but one of a modern looking young gentleman. I went on to buy the book which I read with heightened interest within five hors. I admire Francis¿ strong will and determination for a better life for his people and his pursuit for peace in his country. I am Kenyan. A luo to be precise. Our tribe migrated from the Sudan about 500 years ago in the wake of war and famine. As I read this book, I noticed that some of the Dinka names are ours which means that I may be a descendant of a Dinka. I am therefore shocked and appalled at what is going on at my old home. I don¿t know why my country never publicized this war while I was growing up. (I was twelve in 1986). Lorraine Kombudo