Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Anti-Slavery Award 2004

Today I wanted to highlight and comment on some positive news coming out of Africa as there is plenty of Good News from Africa. There were also some interesting developments in regards to blogs and their affects on society I wanted to write about, but that will have to wait. While checking on some of my fellow blog authors today to see what they are up to I ran across this bit of news at Owukori’s Black Looks about a human rights organization working in the African country of Niger named Timidria.

Now, last week “Mama Miti” (a.k.a. Professor Dr. Wangari Maathai) down in Kenya was awarded one of the most prestigious honors the world has to offer, The Nobel Peace Prize. Today I have learned that another great honor albeit not as well known as the Nobel has been bestowed upon the not-for-profit foundation Timidria and their president Mr. Llguilas Weila by the world’s oldest human rights organization, Anti-Slavery International in the U.K. I want to extend my personal congratulations to Timidria for receiving the 2004 Anti-Slavery Award for their pioneering work to help eradicate the practice of slavery in Niger.

The ceremony will take place in London, U.K. on November 03, 2004 at St. James Square and the award will be handed out by one of my documentary film director heroes
Sorious Samura of Cry Freetown and Living with Hunger. Unfortunately, this excellent African organization which has worked so hard to help end one of the worst scourges of ancient and modern times, SLAVERY, will not be receiving any financial award for their efforts in Niger. The Anti-Slavery International foundation has been around since 1839 and has been doing very notable work long before U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued on September 22, 1862 one of the most treasured documents in U.S. American History, The Emancipation Proclamation, ordering the freedom of slaves (all nationalities and colors) held in the U.S. at the height of the American Civil War.

I would love to address the issues of Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking on this blog today, but to be honest, this subject gets me so upset that if I get started on it your computer might catch on fire just from the heat coming off of the words I would use. So instead, I will just provide you with some excerpts of words written by others and some useful links to resources for my readers to learn more.

An excerpt from the Anti-Slavery International Award 2004 Press Release

“Slavery is an integral part of Niger society. Thousands of people are born into a slave class and are forced to work without freedom or pay throughout their lives.The true scale of slavery across the country only became clear last year, following Timidria's research -- the first national study of slavery to be carried out. The organisation interviewed over 11,000 people, most of whom were identified as slaves, establishing that at least 43,000 people are in slavery across the country. Many of those interviewed were subjected to torture and other forms of humiliating and degrading treatment, including rape, physical abuse and threats.

Following the release of the report, the Government introduced a law that defines, prohibits and punishes slavery. And as a direct result of Timidria's action, over 200 people were freed by the end of 2003. Despite this progress there is still much to do to ensure the regulations are enforced and support is available for those freed.

Slavery has been a taboo subject in Niger with supporters both within the state apparatus and among traditional chiefs. Even other human rights organisations in the country have been silent on it. Ilguilas Weila and other Timidria staff have faced a continual struggle in their work against slavery, including being threatened, intimidated and attacked…”

An excerpt from the background and testimony of a former woman slave freed in June 2004 named Assabit:

"Assibit's experience is typical of many former slaves in Niger. She was a slave for 50 years. She was born a slave, her mother, husband and children were all slaves. She had to work all day from early in the morning, preparing food for the master and his family, milking camels, collecting water and firewood, and doing all the household chores. She had to move her master's heavy tent four times a day so he and the mistress remained sitting in the shade.
Assibit escaped on 28 June 2004, walking 30 kilometres to freedom. She says of her experience:

"We were never paid, I was only given one tenth of the camel milk and leftovers. I have never known happiness until this month of freedom. Now I can go to bed when I want, no one insults me. Now that I am free, I can live as I please."

Timidria is now helping Assibit adjust to freedom and has also secured the release of her mother and daughter…”

More Useful Links and Resources on Slavery and Human Trafficking Worldwide:

Anti-Slavery International homepage
Anti-Slavery International web pages on Niger

U.S. Department of State
2003 Trafficking in Persons Report

National Geographic
Special Report 21st Century Slavery

Black Looks weblog
Chronological Postings on Slavery

Experts and international organizations dealing with Human Trafficking and Slavery estimate there are about 27 million modern-day slaves in existence today around the world. I beg to differ, as I think there are probably more than 3-5 times that many people living in some form of slavery around the world (based upon the experts very definitions).

Economies and social structures of too many nations depend upon the cheap and/or free labor and suffering of slaves___ for centuries and to this very day. We can stop it worldwide in our lifetimes, and we must work together to put a stop to it.

Actually, this is how I really want to say it to the nations and peoples who condone slavery:



Anonymous said...

Great BloG! I will keep visiting.

All the best

Bill Ainashe


Washington, DC
United States

Black River Eagle said...

Thanks Mr. Ainashe. Ditto on the fine work at your blog about Somalia. I'll be doing the same, checking you out from time to time in order to better understand the issues confronting people in your homeland and in the Somali diaspora. I found you via my friend Yvette Lopez's blog Inside Somaliland.

Note to my readers: You want to really learn about the people of Somalia and neighboring countries at the Horn of Africa? Read these blogs.