By: Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis

Presentation by: Ki-Ki Klaumann and John Keel

Author's Purpose

Mende Nazer wrote this novel to tell of the modern day horrors that are still happening in the world and to tell her story of how she was put into slavery at the age of twelve. While many think slavery is good and gone, many areas are still affected and influenced by it.

Slavery isn't as big and as well known around the world like it used to be. It is now just in certain areas in the world where it is still happening, and she is trying to get the world to recognize how slavery changes the life of the enslaved until the day they die.

Aspects of Culture

Mende's culture is very different compared to ours. The middle eastern cultures practice different religions, such as Islam. They also behave different socially. In the kehko tribe some customs are:
  • five daily prayers to Allah
  • live in mud huts with thatch roofs
  • own herds of cattle, with fifty or so being a normal amount
  • taking an hour to walk to school
  • not wearing clothes in their village
  • female circumcision
  • arranged marriages, with girls typically marrying around age 13
  • crop harvest being a major source of income
  • traditional wrestling ceremonies, once a year
  • more wholesome family values, they stick together and are constantly helping each other due to lack of modern technology (tv, radio, phones, cars) and cosmopolitan areas

The culture of the people Mende was enslaved to was more westernized, with then-modern appliances and cultural practices. They wore clothes, had sinks, televisions, and showers, and access to modern medicine.

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Elements of Voice

In the beginning of the book "Slave", Nazer uses the power of diction, detail, imagery, and figurative language to give off a very peaceful and easy living life. Nazer talks about her early life and what happened before the terrible day that she was captured. The specific details of her childhood and scenarios that happened set up an image that you can see of her young years. The way she uses elements of voice to create her life story is awesome, it really puts you in the part of life she is talking about. The elements of voice change from very happy and naïve at the beginning, to a very horrific and gruesome tone while she is describing what it was like being enslaved. Her narration turns into a miserable tale of what happened once she was captured.

Nazer's voice changes throughout the story, and you can see the transition from naive child to beaten-down adolescent to almost hopeful adult. In the story her changing voice shows how her world is changing and reflects what she is feeling and experiencing at each period of her life.

Effect of the Structure of the Novel

Since publication, the book has been turned into a play that many people will be able to see. This will spread the story of what happened to Nazer, and what is still happening to people across the globe. The story and play show the world the horrors of slavery and how it is still a prominent issue in the world today.

The true story acts as an expose on slavery. It was written to get people to realize slavery still exists and to ask for help in the effort to stop it, and hold people responsible for it.

Vocabulary Acquisition

Many new words and aspects of culture were shown in the story.

These are in the Nuba language, with a Kehko-tribe dialect

  • Kujur- village shaman, medicine man
  • Kuul- wrestling champion
  • Heya- lets fight
  • Bire- one
  • Ore- two
  • Hawajas- white men

Once Mende had been kidnapped she was sold to an Arabic family. Some of the words they used were:

  • Abeed- slaves, abda is singular form of slave
  • Yebit- girl worthy of no name
  • Mailesh- im sorry
  • Saieda- master
  • Allahu Akhbar- God is great


Interview with Mende Nazer for Feelgood Theatre Productions' play 'Slave - A Question of Freedom'