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Wednesday, March 28, 2007


"How the great abolitionist heroine of the 19th century would weep to learn that at the threshold of the 21st century, black chattel slavery still exists in this world. More than weep: Harriet Tubman's very heart would crack if she knew that almost no one, not even the descendants of the American slaves for whose emancipation she fought so desperately, seems to care. Chattel slavery - the buying and selling of human beings - ended in the West in the 19th century. In the East, especially in the Arab-dominated nations of Sudan and Mauritania, slavery abounds. Tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of black Africans have been captured by government troops and free-lance slavers and carried off into bondage. Often they are sold openly in "cattle markets," sometimes to domestic owners, sometimes to buyers from Chad, Libya, and the Persian Gulf states.

"These people are slaves in every grim sense of the word. They are owned outright by their Arab Muslim masters. Many are branded like cattle, forcibly converted to Islam, lashed if they resist, tortured if they attempt escape. They are put to work as household servants or at hard labor in the fields. Girls and women are routinely raped. Kidnapped boys as young as 15 have been impressed into the Sudanese army, to be used as cannon fodder in Khartoum's "holy war" against the black Africans of southern Sudan - and as blood banks for older soldiers.

"Chattel slavery in Sudan and Mauritania has been conclusively and repeatedly documented by eyewitnesses, human rights investigators, the United Nations, Sudanese and Mauritanian defectors, and a handful of dogged journalists. Yet most Americans know nothing about it. Why? To end apartheid in South Africa, activists the world over kept up an unremitting campaign of pressure against the former government in Pretoria - condemnation, vigils, sanctions, divestment, boycotts, marches, protests. Where is the campaign to free Africa's slaves?"

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Booker T. Washington said:

"There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs -- partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs....There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who do not want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public."

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