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.
Aguil Mawien Tang was abducted from Marial Bai in South Sudan in 1996. On the way North Aguil recounts how people were beaten and killed on the journey and how slave raiders raped the women. Aguil was raped and beaten by two groups of men. Upon arrival in the North, Aguil was forced to work for one of the raiders that had raped her. Aguil was finally able to leave with the help of a slave retriever.
I am from Marial Bai in South Sudan. The Arabs abducted me there, many years ago. At the time, I was married with three young children: Garang, Abuk and Deng. My husband was a farmer, and I would cultivate as well. I don’t know where my family is now.
There was fighting, and many people were killed. They took so many people. I couldn’t count how many because they were beating us.
They tied all the adults to a rope, and made us walk North. They beat people who walked too slowly and sometimes left them for dead. They also killed the cows that moved too slowly. We didn’t go straight to the north; they traveled around the area capturing more people, cows and goats from the bush. At night, they made the captured men put up a fence, and kept us inside it. They shot anyone who left the fence.
The slave raiders raped the women. I was raped by two groups of men, first three, then two. They beat me terribly with sticks to get me to submit. I still have the scars on my chest. I felt very sick afterwards. But no one can ask them what they’re doing. They do whatever they please.
When we reached the north, one of the raiders took me to be his slave. His name was Amoth Akabar, and he lived in Tobung, in Kordofan. He made me work to collect water, even though I was still suffering from my chest wound. He had a big family, with many slaves. He sold slaves to other people, and gave me to other Arab men for sex – any passerby who had a gun. I complained to him about it, saying, “Why do you give me to these other men, when you are the one who took me here?”
I had two children because of this. As soon as they were old enough to start working, Amoth took them away from me. I don’t know where they are. I don’t even know their names. Amoth gave them Arab names but didn’t tell me, and wouldn’t let me give them Dinka names.
Amoth let me go after the slave retriever came and spoke with him. The retriever told me he was taking me to South Sudan. I was so happy, because life in the North was so bad, and I was beaten all the time for little mistakes, and often denied food. But in the South, people are free.
We are so happy you are here with us.
Narrative provided by Christian Solidarity International