Proving existence of slavery in Sudan was a public...


June 29, 1996

Proving existence of slavery in Sudan was a public service

''Witness to Slavery,'' the series of article by Gilbert A. Lewthwaite and Gregory Kane (June 16-18), compellingly describes the tragedy of human bondage in the Sudan.

Mr. Kane and Mr. Lewthwaite provide a great service to Sun readers by exposing one of the enduring hardships of warfare in the Sudan.

Sudan, the poorest country in Africa, has become a chronic disaster. Thousands of people displaced by the war depend on humanitarian assistance for survival. And international donors, public and private, furnish nearly all of the food they eat.

But with no end to the conflict in sight, Catholic Relief Services and other private relief and development agencies have recognized the importance of working toward rehabilitation along with providing disaster relief.

Such programs -- funded by the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and generous private donations -- include small-scale agriculture initiatives, income generating activities and much-needed services through primary health care projects.

The Sudanese face multiple difficulties, one of the most serious of which is the near complete lack of social services or infrastructure. There is no primary health care, no hospitals, no formal education, no markets and few roads.

The challenges faced by the impoverished people of southern Sudan -- famine, drought, lack of basic social services and poverty -- are exacerbated by war's atrocities.

As Mr. Lewthwaite and Mr. Kane describe, slavery is sadly but one of many legacies of that war.

Bishop John H. Ricard


The writer, a bishop in the Baltimore archdiocese, is president and board chairman of Catholic Relief Services.

Thank you for publishing the most insightful articles by Gilbert A. Lewthwaite and Gregory Kane on slavery in the Sudan. I am absolutely horrified that this is going on in 1996, our wonderful United Nations notwithstanding.

These revelations should also, finally, put an end to Minister Louis Farrakhan's contention that there is no slavery in Africa.

The sad truth, whether he likes it or not, is that this is exactly how slaves came to be sold here -- warring tribes would sell their enemies to Arab slave-traders acting as middlemen.

They sold them to ship companies to transport here, where they were sold once more. No Jewish people were involved, not then, not now.

Exactly whom would Minister Farrakhan sue for compensation -- those tribesmen who caught his ancestors and sold them? The Arab slave-traders? The ship companies? The slave traders here? The slave owners?

Slavery in whatever form -- there are men who make their wives and children slaves; those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol; those who spread vicious lies about others to enslave the minds of followers -- is a dreadful evil that poisons all our lives, regardless who we are and what our history may be.

That you had this horror researched and published its monstrous truth earns you high praise and deep respect.

Emmy Mogilensky


Your current expose of slavery in the Sudan reminds me of an article published in the Providence Journal on April 7 by Sheik Rashid, head of the Islam Anti-Defamation League of New England, who spoke of black slavery but ignored that Arabs to this day are in the business of selling blacks into slavery.

I find it ironic that Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam remain silent. I find it further ironic that the Nation of Islam thinks it is necessary to have an anti-defamation league when it is they who spread hatred about others.

Bernard Gastel

Rochester, N.Y.

I found the series about slavery in Sudan fascinating and enlightening reading. Gilbert Lewthwaite and Gregory Kane should be congratulated on brilliant, sensitive writing. Also, the photographs were stark and illuminating.

Molly Bruce Jacobs


The recent three-part series on the pervasive presence of slavery in Sudan is worthy of a Pulitzer Prize. Despite the protestations of Louis Farrakhan to the contrary, the enslavement of blacks continues in many areas of Africa with the obvious cooperation of the governments of those countries.

However, I have been disturbed by the absence of any other national newspapers printing the findings of your reporters. Certainly, with the absolute proof and the importance of the story, this should have been front-page news throughout the country.

Your newspaper should be congratulated for this expose. The two reporters involved have done an immeasurable public service for the cause of freedom throughout the globe. It is hoped that with public attention the offending governments will change their practices of not condoning but participating in this unspeakable atrocity.

Nelson Marans

Silver Spring

Thank you for your important and well-written investigative reports on slavery in Sudan.

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