There are an estimated 465,000 people living in modern slavery in Sudan (GSI 2018). Between 1983 and 2005, the central government of Sudan enslaved tens of thousands of black South Sudanese Christian and traditionalist people. It was part of a genocidal war against South Sudan, with a simple aim: to force South Sudan to become Arab and Muslim.
Abuk Garang Thiep was taken from South Sudan in 1997 and forced to work for her master, cooking and washing his clothes. Abuk was also subjected to forced female circumcision and forced her to marry an Arab man. Abuk was rescued by a slave retriever but forced to leave her children behind.
I am from Gok Machar in South Sudan. I was a very small girl when I was abducted. My stepbrother, Adim Garang Thiep, was killed in the Arab slave raiders’ attack. He was grown and married. I was shot in the back; the bullet exited through my chest. I lost consciousness. The Arabs tied up my wound, put me on a horse, and took me North. The rest of the captives had to walk. As we went north, they attacked other villages, looting and burning homes and killing people.
My master was named Adam, and lived in Karega, Darfur, in North Sudan. He made me cook for him and wash clothes. He beat me if I didn’t do what he told me. He had some male slaves too, but they worked on the farms and in the bush. He had a wife and children also. They were not good to me. They forced me to be circumcised, because they wanted me to be a Muslim woman. They would only stop calling me “jengai” [a racial epithet] and “abeed” [slave] after I was circumcised. They renamed me “Nunu Adam.”
I always dreamed about coming back to the South, but there was no way. I knew this because a slave of one of Adam Adam’s neighbors tried to escape once. She was killed.
I was forced to be a wife to an Arab man named Adam Abdallah, a friend of Adam Adam. We had two children: Adam, who’s five years old, and Adak, a girl, who’s three. I will not see them again. Their father took them away to the farm with their father, and I couldn’t wait for them to come back when the slave retriever came to get me. [The CSI team has passed along the details of Abuk’s children and their whereabouts to the slave retrievers.]
It was night when we crossed the river Kiir into South Sudan. We were afraid that if we did it during the day, we would be caught by the Arabs at the border. But the South Sudanese army welcomed us on the other side. They sang songs for us and asked us to sit with them.
I’m so happy and excited to be in the south. This is the land for black people.
Narrative provided by Christian Solidarity International