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.
Yar Dut Yai was taken from their home in Sudan and enslaved by a family. They were beaten, verbally abused, and forced to become Muslim.
I do not remember how I was captured. I only remember living with Ibrahim Mohammed as a slave. Ibrahim has a wife called Zaynab and two children, one boy and one girl. I knew from the way I was treated that I was not from them. They called me “dirty Dinka,” “slave,” “ugly Dinka.”
I used to sleep on the ground with the goats. I cleaned the house, collected water and looked after the goats. I had to eat left over food most of the time. I was forced to be Muslim, and circumcised.
I got sick one day, but Ibrahim insisted that I must go and collect water. I came home late from the water, so Ibrahim beat me and hit my eye with a piece of wood. He continued beating me for very long time. I saw blood coming out from my eye and I could not see with it. I have been in pain for many days.
The Arab master said, “Look, you slave Dinka girl, I will kill you the same way my father killed your mother in South Sudan.” This was the first time I learned that my mother was killed by Arab master’s father. I was very upset. I went to the forest with goats and escaped to another village. I met the slave retriever, who took me to his camp and then put me on a truck to the Kiir River with other freed Dinka slaves. We walked from there to South Sudan. The slave retriever gave us food to eat.
I am very happy to be in South Sudan. No one calls me names or beats me here.
Narrative provided by Christian Solidarity International