Undercover as a slave, part 7: Camel meat lands me into trouble

By Vision Reporter

My breakfast is coffee and a slice of bread, lunch varies between rice and chicken, fish, mutton and camel meat. My stomach rejected camel meat. Dinner is always the kubs, their version of chappati, but harder. I do not eat until they have finished eating.

Undercover slavery 350x210

 
Our undercover journalist was smuggled through Entebbe Airport to Dubai on a promise of a good job. Her agent held her for almost a week, before she sold the reporter in a slave market. 
 
We follow the journalist's experience on kyeyo  
 
You remember when Baba met me in the corridor and grabbed my buttocks. He did not know that Mama was watching us from the living room through the one-way glass window. Then she shouted out my title: Kadama! 
 
Baba immediately took off, leaving me to face Mama alone. Kadama is Arab for maid. 
 
I am scared because, instead of calling out her husband's name, she calls out mine! This means she has judged me as the guilty one, instead of her husband. 
 
She makes me sit down and rages on in Arabic for minutes with gestures of beheading. I find myself crying because, honestly, I am innocent. From then on, Mama becomes alert when the husband is near me.

I realise she is watching to see if I return her husband's glares. This makes me feel uncomfortable. I wish she knows that I am not interested. I only want my month's salary and I return home. 
 
It seems in Arab homes, a woman is a boss. Baba is always trying to please Mama and often shows he is scared of her. Mama seems to give orders around. She even scolds Baba, but I never see Baba shouting at Mama. 
 
Baba is also not making it easy for me. He intercepts me while I am working. Whenever Mama finds us talking, she loses her cool and gives me more work. She withdrew the uniform Baba bought for me and gave me an old pair of loose wear to hide my buttocks. 
 
But, sometimes, she is happy with me, especially when it comes to my relationship with her two-year-old son, Ahmed. He is a full-time job and loves attention. Looking after him is like grazing goats. The boy does not stay in one place. I graze the baby, until I sweat. I have to be wherever he is running to. If he is playing in the sand,  I also have to play in it. If he sleeps in the soil, I have to sleep in the soil, too. It doesn't matter how I feel, I have to laugh with him, play his games and follow him everywhere. 
 
Ahmed's toys are always scattered. So, I am supposed to gather them in one place. But after doing that, he throws them around. The mother never wants to see me bark at him or even collect his toys, while seated. 
 
Whenever I am ironing, Ahmed climbs on my back. And, when parents are around, I have to behave as though I enjoy it. If he cries anytime, even if I have nothing to do with it, his mother will scold me in Arabic.  The mother demands that I keep with him doing whatever he enjoys. So, when he is running everywhere, playing in sand and chasing insects, I am doing the same. And the parents stand by to watch us with bemused smiles. We play rotation games for hours, we build boxes, I laugh when he hits me with his toys and I take blame for whatever he is destroying. If I am in the kitchen and his sister, Mariam, is fed up with him, she calls me to come and attend to him. I wonder how I can do two jobs at a go. 
 
Sooner, we again clash with Mama concerning food. My breakfast is coffee and a slice of bread, lunch varies between rice and chicken, fish, mutton and camel meat. My stomach rejected the camel meat. Dinner is always the kubs, their version of chappati, but harder. I do not eat until they have finished eating. 
 
Mama always cooks. My role is to support with the inputs; prepare the spices, cut tomatoes and wash utensils. She teaches me how to cook rice and chicken the way she wants it. We then carry the food to the dining table. She leaves mine in a saucepan. I return to the kitchen to wait for a bell to alert me that either I am needed or I should pick the dishes. I eat my food after washing their utensils. Sometimes, she does not  leave any food in the saucepans and I have to eat their leftovers. 
 
What they think is not good for them, is good for me! My employers never throw away food, even if it has spent days or is obviously becoming stale. They will always look for a way to eat it. Pity me, who would know how terrible the meat was before it was redeemed. I find it difficult to eat such. 
 
One day, Mama cooks fish, but tells me to prepare myself the camel meat which was in the fridge. It has, however, spent several days in the refrigerator and is stale. She says I should eat the camel meat, while the fish will be theirs. I explain that I will not eat the camel meat because it is stale. I told them that my stomach is not a dustbin for their left-over foods. What they think is not good for them cannot be good for me! 
 
Oh! Mama flew in rage! She threw down her cooking utensils and started quarrelling in Arabic. I remain silent because I am not sure my speaking will not worsen the situation. 
 
She brings out camel meat and orders me to eat it. I refuse! She calls in her husband and orders him to scold me. Baba also runs berserk with abuses. I wonder if he knows what I have done. Soon, Mariam joins in. The whole family  surrounds me: Mariam shouting the loudest, Baba saying something like: "kalasi kalasi" which is Arabic for finished. 
 
When she calls Sara my agent, I think the job is over. I do not know what they talked. I think she cut Sara off to call her sister, the one she was with when they bought us from Sara. 
 
I give up my resistance and decide to eat the camel meat. But before I pick anything from the plate, she snatches the plate off! She opens the drawer and brings out tinned beans. She tosses them in a bowl and pushes it over to me to eat. 
 
I decide to be stubborn, too. I toss away the bowl of beans and reach out for the camel meat. Everyone is surprised that I can do that! They all go silent. I think they are wondering what she is going to do to me next. I look up into their faces and all of them are scared! They think Mama is going to behead me. I get scared too I was to regret what I had done! 
 
This story was done with the support of the Democratic Governance Facility
:  Camel meat lands me into trouble  
 
Our undercover journalist was smuggled through Entebbe Airport to Dubai on a promise of a good job. Her agent held her for almost a week, before she sold the reporter in a slave market. 
 
We follow the journalist's experience on kyeyo  
 
You remember when Baba met me in the corridor and grabbed my buttocks. He did not know that Mama was watching us from the living room through the one-way glass window. Then she shouted out my title: Kadama! 
 
Baba immediately took off, leaving me to face Mama alone. Kadama is Arab for maid. 
 
I am scared because, instead of calling out her husband's name, she calls out mine! This means she has judged me as the guilty one, instead of her husband. 
 
She makes me sit down and rages on in Arabic for minutes with gestures of beheading. I find myself crying because, honestly, I am innocent. From then on, Mama becomes alert when the husband is near me. I realise she is watching to see if I return to her husband's glares. This makes me feel uncomfortable. I wish she knows that I am not interested. I only want my month's salary and I return home. 
 
It seems in Arab homes, a woman is a boss. Baba is always trying to please Mama and often shows he is scared of her. Mama seems to give orders around. She even scolds Baba, but I never see Baba shouting at Mama. 
 
Baba is also not making it easy for me. He intercepts me while I am working. Whenever Mama finds us talking, she loses her cool and gives me more work. She withdrew the uniform Baba bought for me and gave me an old pair of loose wear to hide my buttocks. 
 
But, sometimes, she is happy with me, especially when it comes to my relationship with her two-year-old son, Ahmed. He is a full-time job and loves attention. Looking after him is like grazing goats. The boy does not stay in one place. I graze the baby, until I sweat. I have to be wherever he is running to. If he is playing in the sand,  I also have to play in it. If he sleeps in the soil, I have to sleep in the soil, too. It doesn't matter how I feel, I have to laugh with him, play his games and follow him everywhere. 
 
Ahmed's toys are always scattered. So, I am supposed to gather them in one place. But after doing that, he throws them around. The mother never wants to see me bark at him or even collect his toys, while seated. 
 
Whenever I am ironing, Ahmed climbs on my back. And, when parents are around, I have to behave as though I enjoy it. If he cries anytime, even if I have nothing to do with it, his mother will scold me in Arabic.  The mother demands that I keep with him doing whatever he enjoys. So, when he is running everywhere, playing in the sand and chasing insects, I am doing the same. And the parents stand by to watch us with bemused smiles. We play rotation games for hours, we build boxes, I laugh when he hits me with his toys and I take blame for whatever he is destroying. If I am in the kitchen and his sister, Mariam, is fed up with him, she calls me to come and attend to him. I wonder how I can do two jobs at a go. 
 
Sooner, we again clash with Mama concerning food. My breakfast is coffee and a slice of bread, lunch varies between rice and chicken, fish, mutton, and camel meat. My stomach rejected camel meat. Dinner is always the kubs, their version of chappati, but harder. I do not eat until they have finished eating. 
 
Mama always cooks. My role is to support the inputs; prepare the spices, cut tomatoes, and wash utensils. She teaches me how to cook rice and chicken the way she wants it. We then carry the food to the dining table. She leaves mine in a saucepan. I return to the kitchen to wait for a bell to alert me that either I am needed or I should pick the dishes. I eat my food after washing their utensils. Sometimes, she does not leave any food in the saucepans and I have to eat their leftovers. 
 
What they think is not good for them, is good for me! My employers never throw away food, even if it has spent days or is obviously becoming stale. They will always look for a way to eat it. Pity me, who would know how terrible the meat was before it was redeemed. I find it difficult to eat such. 
 
One day, Mama cooks fish, but tells me to prepare myself the camel meat which was in the fridge. It has, however, spent several days in the refrigerator and is stale. She says I should eat the camel meat, while the fish will be theirs. I explain that I will not eat the camel meat because it is stale. I told them that my stomach is not a dustbin for their left-over foods. What they think is not good for them cannot be good for me! 
 
Oh! Mama flew in rage! She threw down her cooking utensils and started quarrelling in Arabic. I remain silent because I am not sure my speaking will not worsen the situation. 
 
She brings out camel meat and orders me to eat it. I refuse! She calls in her husband and orders him to scold me. Baba also runs berserk with abuses. I wonder if he knows what I have done. Soon, Mariam joins in. The whole family  surrounds me: Mariam shouting the loudest, Baba saying something like: "kalasi kalasi" which is Arabic for finished. 
 
When she calls Sara my agent, I think the job is over. I do not know what they talked. I think she cut Sara off to call her sister, the one she was with when they bought us from Sara. 
 
I give up my resistance and decide to eat the camel meat. But before I pick anything from the plate, she snatches the plate off! She opens the drawer and brings out tinned beans. She tosses them in a bowl and pushes it over to me to eat. 
 
I decide to be stubborn, too. I toss away the bowl of beans and reach out for the camel meat. Everyone is surprised that I can do that! They all go silent. I think they are wondering what she is going to do to me next. I look up into their faces and all of them are scared! They think Mama is going to behead me. I get scared too I was to regret what I had done! 
 
This story was done with the support of the Democratic Governance Facility