Mende Nazer (born c. 1982) is a UK-resident, Sudanese author and human rights activist. Nazer was a slave in Sudan and in London for eight years. She later co-wrote the 2002 book Slave: My True Story.
Nazer is a Nuba from a village in the Nuba mountains of Sudan. According to her own account, at the age of twelve or thirteen (as is customary among her people, her birthdate is unknown), she was abducted and sold into slavery in Sudan following a slaving raid on her village. Although her family fled the raiders into the mountains, she became separated from her family and was caught by one of the raiders. For six years, Nazer served an Arab family in Khartoum, where she was forced into hard labour and was subjected to physical abuse.
Escape and asylum claim
Six years into her captivity, Nazer was sent to London to be a household servant to a Sudanese diplomat, Abdel al-Koronky, Sudan's acting chargé d'affaires, who resided in Willesden Green. After three months, with the help of a fellow Sudanese, she managed to escape. She claimed asylum. At first, the Home Office denied her claim, two years after it was submitted. This provoked the rise of a movement in support of her, consisting of individuals and human rights groups, including Anti-Slavery International. By the time of the denial, she had already had her autobiography published in Germany, coauthored by a British professional journalist. The Home Office reversed its denial in November 2002, and granted her political asylum. The decision stated: "In view of the widespread publication of her book and the high profile given to her claims both in Sudan and elsewhere, I am satisfied that Ms. Nazer would face difficulties which would bring her within the scope of the 1951 convention were she to be returned to Sudan. For these reasons it has been decided to recognise her as a refugee and grant her Indefinite Leave to Remain in the United Kingdom". The government thus granted her claim because of the fact of her having publicised her story widely, rather than because of believing the story.
In 2005, the English language edition of her autobiography was published. In 2010, her life story was dramatised in the Channel Four film I Am Slave, starring Wunmi Mosaku, as well as in the stage play, 'Slave - A Question of Freedom' by Feelgood Theatre Productions.
Daily Telegraph libel lawsuit
After the Sunday Telegraph printed a second-hand account of her version of her experience as a slave in September 2000, al-Koronky sued the paper for libel. In July 2002, before the case went to trial, the paper retracted its story and agreed to pay damages. Nazer and the coauthor of her autobiography, which was published in 2003, have blamed this outcome on the Telegraph reporter's professional incompetence. In particular, the reporter never met with or even spoke to Mende prior to publication of the article. As part of the case settlement, the Telegraph retracted the entire story. Nazer later wrote that she should have been given the opportunity to clarify the story's inaccuracies and point out the truths it contained.
- World Press Review, January 2003
- Guardian, 2003-01-08
- Nazer & Lewis 2005.
- "Mende Nazer - From Slavery to Freedom". Archived from the original on 2004-02-21. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
- BBC Woman's Hour (2004-01-21). "Mende Nazer". BBC online. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
- Guardian. "Foreign Office Investigates Claim That Woman Was Kept As Slave By Diplomat". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2005-02-07. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
- Guardian (2003-01-08). "Home Office grants asylum to Sudanese "slave"". The Guardian online. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
- Nazer, Mende; Lewis, Damien (2005). Slave: My True Story. PublicAffairs. ISBN 1-58648-318-8.
- "Statement on the case of Mende Nazer". 2002-10-25. Archived from the original on 2002-12-20. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
- "Mende Nazer Wins Fight for Asylum". National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns online. Archived from the original on April 26, 2010. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- Szymanski, Tekla (January 2003). "Mende Nazer: Fighting for Asylum". 50 (01). World Press online. Retrieved 2011-07-08.