From London's Telegraph:
If you are of the opinion that television has exhausted its power to shock, think again. Next Monday Channel 4 will show a drama set to truly stun audiences. Part of the channel’s Slavery season, I Am Slave is the story set in the present day of a young Sudanese woman, Malia, snatched from her village in the Nuba mountains and sold into domestic servitude, first in Khartoum, then in London. While the cruel treatment of 12-year-old Malia by her female master in Khartoum is deeply unsettling, what will make viewers’ jaws drop is seeing 18-year-old Malia’s enslavement against the backdrop of a gloomy British winter in a red brick London home, “so terribly familiar and rather boringly suburban,” says the film’s writer Jeremy Brock.
Some readers may remember that this also happened to Saint Josephine Bakhita, who was snatched as a child, ended up in Khartoum, and was eventually brought by her last master, the Italian ambassador, back to his home when his assignment ended. There she was freed and joined the Canossan Sisters.
This film has had an arduous seven-year path, since the television executives didn't think that it would hold an audience. Interestingly, once the slaves hit England, they virtually disappear into everyday life with few realising what's happening in their very midst. No shackles or bruises are visible -- this could happen next door without one knowing it. The hope is that this production will make westerners consider this their problem, too.
Mende Nazer's book is here, and we'll see if the movie becomes available in the United States. Prayers for these dear souls to find love and to discover the dignity that is theirs. I'll close with a couple paragraphs from my own book, which included a section on Sister Josephine's witness after her horrific ordeal:
It was her fifth owner, the Italian consul at Karthoum, who first showed her kindness and ultimately brought her to
Europe, where she discovered Christ. While taking care of the young daughter of a family there, she was introduced to the Canossan Sisters with whom she eventually found a home as a religious sister. Fifty years of quiet consecrated life allowed her to witness to others the deep abiding peace that faith and forgiveness can bring. Seeing God’s hand even in the difficult path of her life, she noted, “If I was to meet those slave raiders that abducted me and those who tortured me, I'd kneel down to them to kiss their hands, because, if it had not been for them, I would not have become a Christian and religious woman.” At her beatification, Pope John Paul II praised her as “Our Universal Sister,” pointing out that she offers us “a message of reconciliation and evangelic forgiveness in a world so much divided and hurt by hatred and violence.” Note that Bakhita didn’t say that what the slave traders and her owners did to her was right – it most certainly was not. But she recognized that through her wounds she found salvation, which she could not ignored.
There are many forms of slavery, including those that do not have visible chains or leave outward marks. We suffer from them as long as we cannot name them, claim our own dignity which comes from being created in the image and likeness of God, and renounce them from holding us captive. The liberation that forgiveness can offer is as stark as the sundering of iron fetters and the opening of a prison door—it is for the one who suffers to choose freedom and wholeness of heart, despite her surroundings. The graces of God are available to all even in the darkest hours and each cross bears within it the seeds of Easter for those who cling to Christ.
That all may find this peace despite what they've suffered.