Slavery in Mauritania: When Freedom is 4,000 Miles Away
This is an amazing story or perseverance and courage in the face of a brutal system that has not only physically, but also psychologically enslaved countless people for hundreds of years. It also proves that words & ideas matter, and one that person can indeed make a difference. It’s part of a special report by CNN on Mauritania called Slavery’s Last Stronghold.
Slavery was abolished in Mauritania in 1981 (it was the last country to do so), and it was criminalized in 2007, however only one case has been successfully prosecuted. There is still an estimated 10% to 20% of the population living in slavery. And that’s just Mauritania—it’s not counting the other estimated 10-30 million souls who suffer some form of slavery worldwide.
I’ve worked my way through about half of the stories and all have been excellent, each an eye-opener in its own way. We are so very blessed to have had the good fortune to be born in a free country with access to education, health care, and a host of other things we consider everyday “necessities”—things which, to other people living different realities, are unimaginable luxuries.
It’s humbling to be reminded of how much we take for granted and how petty our personal grievances seem in the face of the waking nightmare so many of our fellow humans are living 24/7. I don’t care if I sound preachy, I think we owe it to ourselves and to the people who are living this horror to at least take the time to hear their stories…to be aware and remember them…and to help in any small way we can.
All Adam’s race are members of one frame;
Since all, at first, from the same essence came.
When by hard fortune one limb is oppressed,
The other members lose their wonted rest:
If thou feel’st not for others’ misery,
A son of Adam is no name for thee.
Oh, one last thing: If the final sentence in this story doesn’t choke you up, then you need to check your pulse because you might be dead.
Cincinnati (CNN) — On a cul-de-sac behind a strip mall in an anonymous neighborhood of this Midwestern city is an incredible story of escape from slavery.
Marieme’s neighbors don’t know her history. She mostly keeps to herself in her modest stucco house, 4,000 miles from her native Mauritania. Her six children know their mother’s story well. She rescued them from slavery, too.
They are living a life they never could have hoped for in Mauritania, where an estimated 10% to 20% of people are enslaved.
The horrors Marieme endured as a slave in West Africa still dominate her dreams and flood her eyes at unexpected moments. In her first attempt to escape, she ran for two days and two nights through the Sahara Desert, barefoot, only to arrive at the home of another slave owner, who returned her to her master.
“They did everything to keep me from running away. See, they branded me so I wouldn’t walk any more,” she says in French, lifting up her fuchsia dress to show large patches of scar tissue on her calves and knees, caused by a metal poker. “But it’s God that helped me.”
A CNN reporter and videographer visited Marieme, 55, shortly after traveling to Mauritania to document slavery in a place where it is arguably more prevalent and more ingrained than anywhere else in the world. After witnessing the bleak reality there, we wanted to hear from someone who had risen up against the odds — who had escaped not only her master but her country.
How had she done it? Who helped her along the way? And how did she end up in Ohio? We hoped to uncover a sort of formula for freedom. Perhaps parts of it could be replicated by hundreds of thousands of others.
We wanted to know: Could an escaped slave truly be free?