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Retelling: Modern-Day Slavery


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Modern-Day Slavery (length: 1 min 40 sec)
At a market in Mopti, international merchant Oumar Cisse explains modern-day "slavery" between the Tuareg and Bella peoples in Mali. Read Transcript

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Video Transcript

MEN WITH SLABS OF SALT.

GATES (V.O.): These great slabs of salt are mined deep in the Sahara Desert, far to the north of Timbuktu. The salt is dug by the dark skinned Bella, but the trade is controlled by their traditional masters, the nomadic Tuareg.

GATES: So he's from near Timbuktu?

OUMAR: (MALIAN)

MAN: Timbuktu.

OUMAR: Timbuktu.

GATES: But how come, Oumar, how come he looks different from him? They're both Tuareg?

OUMAR: No, this is like things like that.

GATES: Is he a slave?

OUMAR: Yeah.

GATES: A slave? Ah, I see. So this man owns him?

OUMAR: Yeah. Like that.

GATES: So he's born into slavery?

OUMAR: Exactly. He's two or three father to son, to big father.

GATES: It's not illegal?

OUMAR: It's traditional.

GATES: Traditional?

OUMAR: Yeah, it's traditional.

GATES: Mm. Well, my great great grandfather was a slave.

OUMAR: Yeah, man, now you are an American, now is finished for that. Now for these people it's traditional. Everything he have to do, he have to going to ask a friend, you have to ask

GATES: You have to ask

OUMAR: he have to say do that and don't do that, and things like that.

GATES: So does he pay him or

OUMAR: Yeah, he's paying him too.

GATES: He pays him too. But this man, if he wanted to quit and work on the river he couldn't do that, unless he said yes?

OUMAR: Sometime he can say yes, sometime he can say no.

GATES: Hm-mm. And the Bella people, no rebellion, they never wanna fight the Tuareg?

OUMAR: No, no.

GATES: No.

OUMAR: He like that.

GATES: They like it?

OUMAR: Yeah, for

GATES: Yeah, they used to say that about Black American slaves. (LAUGHS)

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