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Cover for Slave


My True Story

Mende Nazer, Damien Lewis


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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.

PublicAffairs, 9781586483180, 368pp.

Publication Date: April 27, 2005

About the Author

Mende Nazer is the author of the international bestselling autobiography Slave that has touched millions of lives and called many to action. Her story has gone on to inspire the motion picture I Am Slave and the stage adaptation of her life, Slave - A Question of Freedom.

Damien Lewis is a lifelong dog lover and award-winning writer who spent twenty years reporting from war, disaster, and conflict zones for the BBC and other global news organizations. He is the bestselling author of more than twenty books, many of which are being adapted into films or television series, including military history, thrillers, and several acclaimed memoirs about military working dogs. Lewis lives in Dorchester, England, with his family and retired assistance dog black Labrador Moxie.

Conversation Starters from

  1. Were you aware that there is a modern day slave trade? Why do you think it gets so little attention? Is there something that can be done to increase awareness?
  2. How does Mende's practice of Islam compare to your own prior knowledge or common stereotypes of the religion? How is her captors' faith different from Mende's?
  3. What role do family and tradition play in Nuba identity? Do you think Mende had a happy childhood and, if so, how does it sustain and nurture her during her traumatic years as a slave?
  4. Mende was circumcised when she was very young, which she describes as a traumatic and painful event. Is female circumcision, controversially termed female genital mutilation, a practice that requires outside intervention, or is it a custom that outsiders do not understand and should not interfere with?
  5. How do Mende's experiences as a slave affect her self-worth? Why did Mende lie about her situation to those who might have helped her?
  6. How is Mende seen as a commodity by Rahab's female friends and by her husband's male friends? Is their treatment of her different based on gender?
  7. What shocked you most about Mende's experience as a slave? Were the physical or psychological abuses that Mende suffered more difficult for you to read?
  8. Mende's account, while horrifying, does at times present a comical view of a tribal girl encountering the modern world for the first time. Did her reactions make you view your own culture and lifestyle differently?
  9. Mende's choice to write this book created significant consequences for her, her friends and her family. Would you have made a similar sacrifice in order to give a voice to the slaves who remain in captivity?