View Full Version : Half a million African slaves are at the heart of Mauritania's presidential election

07-14-2009, 04:31 PM
A year after she ran away from her master, Barakatu Mint Sayed prays that the election on July 18 will mark the beginning of the end of slavery in Mauritania.
Her nation is one of the last places on Earth where large numbers of humans are still kept as property.

And like thousands of other slaves and freed slaves across the Saharan country, her hopes are fixed on an inspirational candidate, a man born to slave parents who has sworn to put an end to the practice of "owning" humans if he is elected president.
That candidate is Messaoud Ould Boulkheir, a 66-year-old former civil servant with a strong resemblance to the film actor Morgan Freeman. Mr Boulkheir has vowed that in power he would punish slave owners and do everything he can to free their human property.
His prospects of winning power are growing by the day - and he is being hailed as Mauritania's brightest star by his supporters.
"He is the Obama of Mauritania," said Boubacar Messaoud, an architect and veteran anti-slavery campaigner in the northwest African desert state. "He is going to bring change, and he represents social justice and equality."
Officially, slavery has long been abolished in Mauritania, but the law has never been enforced and there are an estimated 600,000 slaves, almost one in five of the country's 3.2 million people, almost 150 years since the American civil war.
Change will come too late to heal Mrs Sayed's ruined life. But she knows that victory for Mr Boulkheir could transform the future for the daughter and grandchildren whom she had to leave behind in captivity when she finally summoned the courage to escape.
A black African of Mauritania's Haratine caste, she was born into slavery about 40 years ago - she is illiterate and has only a hazy idea of time - and grew up as the property of an Arabic-speaking Berber family, in an oasis town deep in the desert.
While her master's children went to school, she was cooking, cleaning and washing from dawn to dusk. She slept on the floor, and suffered beatings.
"Sometimes I was too tired by the end of the day to eat my food," Mrs Sayed said at her new home in the capital, Nouakchott, where she now works as a paid housekeeper. ...

Amid the liberal posturing about apologies and reparations let's remember that there are still many people still enslaved across the world.

07-14-2009, 08:52 PM
Yikes! I did not know slavery was still going so strong there.:mad:

07-14-2009, 09:04 PM
I hope the right man gets it, and I hope he puts an end to slavery. :(