Francis Bok, a former child slave from Sudan, discussed his story of forced servitude and hope for the people of South Sudan, who recently voted for separation and independence from the rest of the country. The presentation, organized by the UCF Global Perspectives Office, was a feature of the 2010-2011 programming theme of “Global Peace and Security.”
Bok opened on a positive note, expressing his gratitude for the assistance the United States has provided in helping the peace process in South Sudan.
“We will be the world’s newest nation,” he said, noting that in July of this year, South Sudan would become the 193rd internationally recognized country. “Without the international community, we would not have made it this far.”
Bok then turned to his own tale of slavery, an issue that remains a problem not only in Sudan but globally. He was taken from his family at the age of seven, along with countless other children from his village.
“I left my village, waving to my family,” Bok recounted, but he never made it home. The violence and brutality was something he said he could not comprehend.
“I watched men and women brutally murdered,” he continued, and there was “blood running like water in a river.” Bok, now 32, explained that he never got to enjoy his childhood.
His nightmarish experience, he contends, made him stronger, and he is now using that strength to help fight slavery. He used to lie awake at night and wonder, “Who will come and save me?’ Now, he said, it is his life’s purpose to fight for the millions who are in the position he was in as a child.
“What good is my freedom if millions are still in slavery?” he asked.
Bok ended his presentation by discussing the hope and challenges that still face his home country. He created The Francis Bok Foundation to help raise money to build high schools in Sudan. Development, Bok said, is most important in Sudan, which lacks infrastructure. He added that the United States plays an essential role in his country’s development. The United States can make things better with its strong voice and strong arm, he said.
In addition to the Global Perspectives Office, sponsors and supporters of the event included the UCF Global Peace and Security Studies Program, The Sibille H. Pritchard Global Peace Fellowship program, Lawrence J. Chastang and the Chastang Foundation, LarsonAllen LLP, the UCF Political Science Department, the UCF Office of Diversity Initiatives, the UCF International Services Center, UCF LIFE and the Global Connections Foundation.