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4.8 out of 5 stars48
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 9 December 2007
This book explores a very uncomfortable truth: this is the 21st century and slavery still exists. Following a murderous raid in her native Nuba village in Sudan, Mende Nazer was kidnapped in 1994 with other native children from that area. Her simple tribal life surrounded by a loving, united family came to an end that night. Sold to an Arab family in Khartoum, she learned to survive by "simply" enduring her fate. She was stripped of dignity and humanity, her desperation worsened by the lack of information about the rest of her family, not knowing whether they had survived the raid. It all made her plunge into a deep depression. She was humiliated, beaten and psychologically abused to a devastating extent and for several years. She was later "passed on" to another family, related to the one in Khartoum. This second family lived in London and it was there, in the year 2000, that Mende's fate changed.

This story is a condensation of facts reported simply and clearly by Mende in first person, beginning with her childhood (a very happy one despite her painful female circumcision at a very young age), all the way through her life and up until the events leading to freedom in London. She was helped in this process by journalist Damien Lewis and the result is a compelling read, where all is pieced together in a very accessible way. Mende's young and sober voice emerges with a powerful resonance in its quiet simplicity, a sad reminder of contemporary slavery. It's like a blow knocking the air out of you.

I am omitting further details as the reading would be spoiled. I abstain from commenting as the book comments itself and also because, no matter how "used" we are to hear about atrocities nowadays, it is difficult to convey in written words the outrage in the knowledge that such horrors still exist. Just one thing: this should be a compulsory read. It is not only informative and an eye-opener, it also goes to show that, thankfully, goodness still exists too, despite everything, and it unites everybody, irrespective of race, religion, social background.
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on 21 January 2004
Slave is an excellent book that I struggled put down in the one day it took me to read it. Mende's incredible memory allows us to have a glimpse into her happy childhood and experience the differences in her culture from our own. But at age 12 her childhood was cut short and she was captured in a terrifying raid on her village. What follows is a shocking account of her life as a slave 'abid' first in Khartoum and then in London. Her bravery, strength and cleverness throughout this time, her escape and even now is amazing and encouraging. But what really struck me is how recent this situation was. While many of us were ringing in the millennium, Mende was still in slavery. While we would wish it was a work of fiction or even history, Slave allows us to see the situation as it really is in Sudan and reminds us that the situation is still present. Mende Nazer is truly an inspiration and her book left me wanting to find out how to do more.
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on 29 April 2012
A harrowing and extremely eye-opening true life story of a childhood stolen by modern slavery which is still pervasive in North Africa and the Middle East. Mende Nazer lived a rural, happy childhood in a village Nuba Mountains in Sudan. At the age of twelve she was kidnapped by marauding Arab raiders, who put the men of her village to death, raped the woman and captured the children into slavery. She was raped by the Arab slavers and then sold in Khartoum to a cruel Arab family. There she was beaten, tortured and emotionally tormented, especially by the madam of the house, the indolent, spoiled and evil 'Master' Rahab. Nazer here tells of her unjust and cruel treatment here, and it is all the more disturbing for knowing that this is prevalent in Sudan, and with African slaves, across the Arab world.Millions like Mende are treated by Arabs as cruelly as slaves were by white masters over a century ago in America's South

Mende was a possession, given no wages, and no time off. she was given to Rahab's sister in London, where eventually with the help of some fellow Nubas which she was blessed enough to miraculously come across, managed to escape her inhumane captors, and eventually receive asylum in Britain, where today she campaign for the end to the diabolical slave trade-she is a TRUE human rights activist, who appreciates the freedom and humanity given her and all other migrants by her adopted country. What is is disturbing is so little attention is given to the horrors of the slave trade, and the genocide of Blacks by Arabs in the Sudan, by the media, universities and 'human rights' NGO who continue to focus exclusively on anti-Western and anti-Israel agitation. It is simply not politically correct to point to abuses by radical Arab regimes against non-Arabs. So called 'human rights' icons like Desmond Tutu, almost the entire left, and the Black power movements , have been very vocal in support of fashionable causes like the Palestinians, but have remained stony silence about the Arab slave trade.
I would urge anyone reading this review to make themselves aware and educated about the slave trade by Arabs of Blacks in Africa.
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on 9 May 2007
Slave is the first hand account of the life of a young Sudanese girl who was kidnapped by the Mujahidin when they raided her village hacking down the men, raping the women and abducting the children before raping them and selling them on into slavery in Khartoum. She was used as a domestic slave without pay, days off or even food as she had to live off what the family she was working for left uneaten on their plates. After seven years of hell for a young girl when she was frequently beaten and forced to sleep on the floor of the garden shed she was "passed on" by her master and brought to London. I could not believe that girls were kept in these harsh conditions in UK in the 21st century. This is a different insight into modern day slavery than the human trafficking that is so prevalent at this time. You cannot fail but be moved by this moving testimony to a young girl's indomitable spirit.
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on 17 March 2004
Mende...I read your book prior to publication....I cried, I prayed, and i read on...all i can think was how i just desperatly wanted to have the power to reach into the story and pull you to safety. As an arab (not from the region you speak of, but from Jordan) I can honestly say that your book made me ashamed of the fact that i even speek the same language. I know such things are not condoned by any religion...but culture and tradition over-ride even religion it seems, in your life and mine. You deserve much more than just an award for all you have endured. You will forever have my prayers and support.I only pray that the international community that reads your words does not make the mistake of thinking that such practices have stopped...many more still suffer in similar and even worse circumstances...i pray for all of them!! it must be stopped...
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on 15 March 2004
I found the book very fascinating. I have heard only rumours of the existence of slavery in Sudan, but have never expected such proximity to my home-town of Khartoum. I was expecting the book to be rather biased towards Mende's side, supporting the present pressure on the government to promote peace. However, I have found so many surprises and shocking facts in the book, that even IF it is biased and contains some fictitious elements, what is left is still more than sufficient to open anyone's eyes.
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on 4 November 2004
I'm not usually compelled to write reviews but i had to for this book. It is one of the best books i have ever read! It is compelling, moving, heart warming and much more. It follows the real life journey and struggle of Mende, and often whilst reading it, it gives you the feeling that we have so much to be thankful for in life and that there are others much worse off! It gives a powerful insight into a life which is so different and distant to ours.
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on 24 March 2006
Emotive and powerfully written. This book takes you on a journey through Mende's life, through her own eyes. From humble, but happy beginnings through to her capture by slave traders, entrapment in Khartoum for 7 years and finally escape from her existence as a slave in London. It is gripping and difficult to put down. The more people that read this the better - the issues it raises are real and increasing their profile can only be a good thing.
It is astonishing but fathomable that slaves exist in any country - Sudan is far from politically stable and the incumbant Government is unlikely to recognise or further act to quash the slave trade. What amazed me more than this was that a girl was sold into slavery in London and worked and lived as a slave here.
Mende's struggle for freedom and unbelievable difficulty in securing asylum in our 'free' and 'democratic' society is almost absurd. If nothing else, this book should highlight the issue and raise awareness of not only the fact that the slave trade persists in the 21st century, but also that there are hundreds of genuine asylum seekers. If Mende's case wasn't so well publicised, she would probably be dead in Sudan by now.
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on 27 September 2013
It's rare that I give a book 5* and I would really like to give this one 4.5*.
The first section of the book I found rather slow moving. I appreciate that it's to give us an understanding of her way of life and much of it I enjoyed. However this part seemed too long winded for me and it took me a while to get into the book. Despite that this book is one you don't want to put down. It's quite horrifying in parts and to be honest, one part of Mendes cultural rituals knocked me sick. All I wanted was to get to the end of the book and find out is she happy? Did she see her family again? Were those who took her ever punished? It turns out there's a second book (Freedom-the sequel to slave), but I can't find it anywhere in the UK to buy??? Help me please someone! On an end note my prayers and thoughts are with Mende, her family and all the other people who are still slaves. Perhaps I am naive but I had no idea slavery still existed! Shocking
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on 20 January 2013
An achingly heart wrenching account from such a strong, Nobel young woman. Sympathetically written by Damien Lewis. Mende your are such an inspiration to all of us!
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