Escape from slavery: The true story of Francis Bok’s ten years in slavery and his journey to freedom in America

Author, Francis Piol Bol Bok was captured as a slave in 1986, at the age of seven. He was consequently enslaved for ten years before escaping and traveling to the U.S., where he now lives and works as an abolitionist, advocate and author.

Bok was born in South Sudan in February 1979, he is from the Dinka tribe.

Arab guerrillas raided a South Sudanese village named Nyamlel on May 15, 1986. Bok, who was within the village to sell eggs and peanuts within the market on behalf of his mother, overheard others saying that they saw smoke and heard gunfire from surrounding villages. Afterwards, militiamen on horses, armed with machine guns invaded Nyamlel and shot the lads living within the village. Bok was subsequently taken by Giemma, an Arab man.

Giemma was a member of an Islamic militia within the northern a part of Sudan that conducted attacks on villages with inhabitants who practised Animalism or Christianity.

Bok was given an area to remain near Giemma’s livestock and was forced to tend to the herds of his captors, taking the animals to graze and drink water. While tending to the herds, Bok would see other Dinka slaves, but he couldn’t communicate with them because they spoke Arabic – a language he couldn’t speak and since they were apprehensive about communicating with him.

Eventually, Bok was forced to convert to Islam. As his experience as a herd’s boy grew, he was ready to complete his job unsupervised from Giemma and his son, Hamid.
At the age of 14, Bok tried to flee slavery twice, unsuccessfully. His first attempt earned him a whipping with a bullwhip. His second attempt almost cost him his life. Nevertheless, Giemma spared his life because he was reliant on Bok’s work.

It would take three years for Bok to undertake to recapture his freedom. this point he escaped to Mutari, a neighboring town. When he visited the local department for help, he was jailed for 2 months. He was ready to escape again by taking the police department’s donkeys to the well then abandoning the donkeys and blending in with the people at the marketplace.

Bok met a person named Abdah, smuggled him to Ed-Da’Ein during a truck crammed with onions and grains. Bok stayed with Abdah and his family for 2 months before Abdah purchased a ticket for Bok to visit Khartoum.

When he arrived in Khartoum, Bok was ready to enlist the assistance of a stranger who helped him get to the Jabarona settlement.

Bok settled with the people from the Aweil area of North Bahr al Ghazal, but soon found himself in trouble when he began to recall his experience as a slave. Slavery in Sudan although rampant, is swept under the rug and anyone found to be talking about it might be imprisoned. Bok was jailed for seven months.

Upon his release, he decided to go away Sudan. He arrived in Cairo, Egypt in April 1999 and was directed to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church , where he was ready to secure connections and learn some English at the church.

On September 15, 1999, Bok applied for United Nations refugee status. Several months later, he was granted permission by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to maneuver to the U.S.

On August 13, 1999, Bok flew to New York City then Fargo, North Dakota. Bok held several jobs before moving to Ames, Iowa – where there was an outsized concentration of Dinka natives. While living in Ames, Bok was contacted by the founding father of the American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG) in Boston, Massachusetts.

Bok was heavily persuaded to maneuver to Boston and arrived there on May 14, 2000. The AASG sponsored Bok and provided him with an apartment to measure in.

Afterwards, Bok was awarded opportunities to talk at a church in Roxbury, Massachusetts, be interviewed by The Boston Globe, and provides a first-hand account of being a slave ahead of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. In 2002, he witnessed the signing of the Sudan Peace Act.

Bok is now an abolitionist and author; his autobiography, shake Slavery: truth Story of My Ten Years in Captivity and My Journey to Freedom in America was published in 2003.

Bok has spoken at various churches and universities within the U.S. and Canada. On April 28, 2001, he assisted within the formulation of Bok also works within the first AASG office in Kansas while working with Sudan Sunrise, a corporation based in Kansas that aims to revive peace in Sudan.
Bok and his wife Atak have two children, Buk and Dhai. They reside in Kansas.

Source: Face2Face Africa