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Best of Slow Journalism: Freedom Fighter

Photo: AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

One of the things we enjoy most about making Delayed Gratification is unearthing those stories that fly under the radar and don’t get picked up by the mainstream news media. In our forthcoming issue, for example, we meet the female khat entrepreneurs of Somaliland, a fascinating part of East Africa we rarely get to read about.

Alexis Okeowo‘s story ‘Freedom Fighter: A slaving society and an abolitionist’s crusade‘, published in this week’s New Yorker, opens up another part of Africa the mainstream media rarely travels to – Mauritania. And it’s a Slow Journalism gem.

The 6,704-word article tells the story of Biram Dah Abeid, an activist seeking to put an end to slavery in his native Mauritania. Slavery wasn’t abolished in the country until 1981, but it’s an “economic and psychological institution” which has far from disappeared: estimates say 140,000 people are still enslaved in Mauritania. The country’s population is only 3.8 million.

A member of the Haratin caste, the Mauritania’s “permanent underclass”, himself, Abeid campaigns to free slaves and prosecute their former ‘owners’. Two years ago, he burned books which interpret Islamic law in front of a large crowd – an act which could have seen him convicted of apostasy, and punished by death.

You can read Okeowo’s article here.

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