Swampy lowlands, a fertile plateau with wooded hills, and a desert region – that’s Uganda. Stories have repopulated themselves with the onset of this sudden death. It’s all around us. It reminds me of when Arab traders, British explorers, Protestant and Catholic missionaries invaded our country. Some thirty-five years later, as several other territories integrated, Uganda crystallized. All kinds of people live in my country; none of whom make up the majority. .
The Language of the SlavesThere are so many languages spoken here. It seems to me that around forty or so dialects are spoken on a regular basis. English, of course, is the official language and then there is “the language of the slaves.” If one is not a slave, you will not understand our language. It is a language of a broken, tattered people; a language sometimes only conveyed through eye contact. Yet, one knows what the other is saying. It is a strong language; a language rarely deciphered by the wealthy, the rich or the sheltered. No, you learn this language – you master the phonetics – while the sun beats you down and drains the life out of you. One gains appreciation of those you encounter and speak to. Without words you understand and you are understood. It is the language of the
slaves – the language of those kidnapped from freedom to be brought to a strange land – brought here to spend the rest of their lives bound and in chains.
The language of the slaves is paramount and is often used by house slaves. House slaves generally live in better conditions than those slaves who work in the tea and sugar plantations here in Uganda. While my brothers and sisters toil in the field, working sometimes eighteen hours a day, those slaves who live in the master’s house have a better opportunity to master reading and writing. They can listen in on the master’s conversations and use thelanguage of the slaves to warn field slaves of the master’s plans. Some of those plans include selling slaves and other matters. Slaves that reside ‘inside’ live in attics, closets or corners even if their families have quarters elsewhere.
Women and Children Not Spared
A field slave has an exhausting life. They work, so many of them, from sunrise to sunset, but during the time of the harvest, there’s no telling when the day will start or when the day will end. Field workers live in tiny huts with dirt-like floors. These small living quarters provide no barrier against the cold winter months. Their blankets are rough to the skin.The women and children are not spared. Expectant mothers are charged with working until they deliver their child, and after the birth, the new mom will return to field work with the young one laced on her back. At the age of five or six, a child may be ‘hired out’ to various chores around the house or out in the field. Beginning at around age twelve, a child’s work becomes almost as equal to that of their parents.
A Lump of Sugar
I have been an eye witness to some horrible events in my lifetime. I have witnessed the senseless beatings of my people over something as small as a lump of sugar. Why, once I witnessed a young child around eight years old, she was assigned to the master’s house to watch on the baby as it slept; when it woke and cried, the child was whipped. In another instance, I saw one of my brothers really suffer, as he watched in horror, as one of his sons was threatened for stealing a lump of sugar. That boy ran off, all to the father’s amazement, to a neighbor’s pig sty for some five days, where the father told me he fought with the animals for scraps of food. Daily, the father was beaten until the child returned. The father warned the child of the great beating which was in store for him, recommending to his child that he wrap himself in layers of clothing but ‘cry out’ as if he was less protected. The child survived.
The smell of death circulates the air just as it did then when a mysterious sleeping sickness epidemic annihilated some 250,000 of my people. What could it be? Has the epidemic returned?
A Slave's Journey
Slaves. Slaves. Slaves. Some historians have concluded that a slave’s journey to his or her “new home,” most likely began somewhere immersed inside East Africa, with one being captured – stolen from his or her home, as a prize of war, as tribute given by a weak tribal state to a more powerful one or by outright kidnapping by local traders. It is sad but often those who began as “hired hands - kidnappers,” became slaves themselves; stolen, seized and pirated away to a life of servitude.
A New King Over Egypt
Exodus 1:8-12 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour. And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive (Exodus 1:13-17).
I Know Their Sorrows
And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come downto deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them (Exodus 3:7-9).
I Will Send Thee
Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain (Exodus 3:10-12).
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Emancipation for all souls.
Rescued from Death
Moses was the deliverer for his people. They cried out to God and He heard them and made provisions for their deliverance. The Hebrew children were in slavery some 400 years. It has been recorded that many gave their lives as the Egyptian Pharaoh’s machines crushed them beneath its power.Rescued from certain death, Moses grew up in the master’s house; the house of Pharaoh. He went from being abandoned on the Nile to deliverer. Moses knew what it was like to be free, rich, yet he gave it all up just to please God; to be a slave; to be a Hebrew deliverer.
An Act of Bravery
I remember the exact moment the idea of escape penetrated my thoughts. It was one of those really, hot days; one of those days when the heat was beating down on me worse that any whip of the masta’. My master had brought me back to the big house almost at the close of day and I was really tired. I thought I would die if I didn’t lie down. Mr. Tilman, I was only allowed to call him masta, said I didn’t finish all my work but I knew what the accusation was all about. I believe my master just wanted to beat me. When he was feeling real good or feeling real bad, I knew a beating was in his thoughts.
My Name is Abbey
My name is Abbey, and I have been in master Tilman’s house most of my life. I was sold to him when I was eight years old; old enough to watch master’s children. I was separated from my parents at birth. My brothers were sold to another plantation; to another master and I was sold to Master Tilman. It seemed as if we were doomed from birth; no eye pitied us. No one had compassion on us. We were simply cast out from our mother’s womb into this dark, dark world. I have known no other life but slavery. You can get use to anything! I hear some of the other slaves talking about freedom, and to them it is just mere conversation. Just dreams and only dreams.
The Whipping Post
“Abbey,” he shouted. Seemed like masta’s voice in that tone – well I knew what was next. “Abbey.” I decided, after a long pause to answer, “Yes masta. I am sorry it took me so long to answer.” “So you’re sorry, ha, Abbey?” he shouted. I would apologize even before I knew what I had done. It was an automatic, instantaneous, fearful response. I felt that that would keep me from getting a real severe beating. Master Tilman’s voice was full of rage. “You know how I like things done and when you do good, you are rewarded BUT when you don’t complete your tasks, you must pay,” he smirked. “Well,” he continued, “how will we settle our little problem? Will it be lashings? The stocks? It doesn’t matter because you have no say it what I do to you. I own you and you will never be free. You understand me? You will always belong to me.”
Until I Passed Out
Master Tilman snatched that whip from its harness, a long black bullwhip, fastened with a huge top made of metal. I knew what was ahead. I thought after all these years, my back would have become immune to the beatings; somehow I would just “go into another world,” until I passed out. You never get use to it, you never do. I knew it meant my death if I even attempted to escape. Like an unloved dog, I was instructed to take my place on the pole. We often called it the “whipping post.” It seemed that was where all matters were settled.
Fifty lashes were ahead of me. I couldn’t, in the beginning, imagine being alive at the end of such an ordeal but I always survived…barely. It would take days to recover from the muscle spasms that would attack me, without warning. The torn ligaments in my back; the shredded skin, it was all too common. Master Tilman raised his hand and began. At first, the whip would come down slowly and then masta would beat me nonstop. I didn’t even realize when he was done. I would simply pass out. I heard, way back in my mind as I lay there, “I think that’s enough for today. Rest and we’ll try it again tomorrow.” I would be lowered down from the “whipping post,” as one dead, sacrificed, crucified. While sleeping the thought struck me again, “to be free.”
Back to the Plantation
Flinched by a sound, I was awakened as one of the other slaves rubbed medicine on my tattered, torn, and ravished back until it dissolved and then she would wrap my wounds. The medicine would make my flesh burn, and I would scream and yell in pain. The next morning it was back to the sugar plantation, in the hot sun. By day’s end, my hands would be all bloody from working and my back’s memory left me flinching.
I Had a Dream
I had a dream one night of a man coming to help us but I must have been delirious. This man came from a far country, or so it seemed. He was strong and unlike any other man I had ever known; yet, he was very much like us, it’s strange. The dream gave me hope; I felt some sense of reassurance – some belief in something - someone, although I didn’t know what or why. How would he rescue us? There are so many who need to be free. How will he get us all out alive? This plantation is its own asylum. Did he know Master Tilman? How would he be able to purchase each man’s freedom? How would it all be done? Sure was a good dream. I told my buddy Ben about the dream. He says I want to be free so bad that my mind gives me dreams of freedom. Ben says the dreams are a gift from God. In my dream, this man who came to rescue us had unusual power yet he looked like us, talked like us and walked like us. Somehow I felt he had once been a slave as well. He knew about our problems and sufferings; this man was so acquainted, so near to our afflictions and sorrows. He was strange but pleasant all at the same time. He appeared to understand sorrow, grief, rejection and misery. Oh well.
In the Nick of Time
It has been a few weeks now since Master Tilman called me to the “whipping post.” I must act now if I am ever to do it. I have some money saved up and it’s my time to be free even if I die trying. It makes me so sad when I think about that dead slave; the slave that came to tend to my wounds was found dead the very next day. He died on the “whipping post.” Was I the cause? That old slave’s death – I wouldn’t have survived without him. It seemed he came to me right in the nick of time. Surely, I would have perished. It was such a long, long night. How many have died on that post? How many more are yet to die?
I Will Still be a Slave
I would look up to the ceiling as I rested on my bed made of a simple cloth. I would study and review the maps and plans that I created in my mind. I know this plantation backwards and forward. There’s one problem though, even if I escape, I will still be a slave. Master’s brand was etched so definitely in my skin. It was “his” mark.
And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come downto deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them ( Exodus 3:7-9).
The Master's Dogs
In the midst of dreaming, I was awakened by an awful sound. It was the sound of master’s dogs. They were on the hunt, on the hunt for another missing slave. Soon all the slaves would be awakened to be counted like cattle, interrogated and whipped.
After several hours, the missing slaves were caught, shot and buried but not before the captured slaves were paraded around like trophies as a warning to the rest of us. It was Willie, his wife and his children. They were tied together like waiting chickens with blood gushing forth from their heads. The “slave catcher,” Lafayette was meticulous in catching slaves. Some say he was born of the devil; the devil’s man. If Master Tilman sent Laffy after you, you were caught!
There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest (Joshua 1:5-9).
John 15:13-15 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain (Galatians 3:1-4).
Boaz Witnesses Recapture
While I was born free, I will never forget when one of the slaves was recaptured after a short-lived freedom. He name was Edward but everyone called him Ed. He was a favorite of one of the plantation owners. Ed had many privileges. He was given permission to hire himself out. Ed’s master trusted him so much that he often supervised the hiring out of other slaves. He was afforded the ‘freedom’ to take on more jobs, just as long as he paid the master a fee; was even going to the church, started by some of the slaves.
Many told me that singing those spirituals and being together, no matter how brief, was the only thing that they had to look forward to in the entire week. Those old spirituals gave the slaves great inner strength. In his spare time, Ed learned to read and write but he was never really content. He yearned for true freedom – emancipation. One day while out working, he boarded a ship by way of Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga. Lake Victoria has birthed many islands and Ed was yearning to go anywhere but where he was.His escape however was short-lived. After making it safely to Kenya, Ed sent a letter by way of Rwanda to his family but it ended up in the hands of his master. Ed’s master traveled to Kenya to claim his “property,” and Ed was arrested, convicted of being a fugitive slave and brought back to the plantation. Needless to say, the master never left him alone again. Ed lost all of the freedom he once enjoyed.
Witchcraft in Uganda
My country is polluted with witchcraft. There are witch doctors and sorcerers. Recently I heard tell of a mob in western Kenya burning to death 11 accused witches, 8 women and 3 men, after torching some 30 huts. Kenya has a long outstanding history of utilizing witch doctors and faith healers.Witchcraft is widespread here in my country. Often witches, especially fortunetellers, are consulted for marriages, trade, or good luck. Many here visit or pay homage to shrines in their day-to-day lives. If my people truly understood how important freedom was, there would be no need for all of this but ignorance has consumed so many here; it is as bad as or worse than the witches themselves.
Witches capitalize on the ignorance of people; they depend on the ignorance of others. Just think before a person does anything concerning their health; they will consult a witch doctor, which could result in their death if the improper measure is taken. Medical care is so bad here, and one can’t run the risk of making the wrong decision.
The Secret Things
The secret things belong unto the Lord our God. (Deuteronomy 29:29). Leviticus 19:4, 26 Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God…neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.
Observing times…astrology. Millions have turned back to reach for those very things that caused destruction to so many. Exodus 22:18, Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Leviticus 19:28, Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord. Think of the cuttings and marks made upon the body today in honor of Satan! Verse 31, Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God. Witchcraft, the occult defile.
There is No Light in Them
Isaiah 8:19, 20 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Under the Influence of the Spirits
I’ve heard so many stories. Here's one profound story I will never forget. “Boaz, listen to my story,” the father said:* The father had been a witch doctor.“That is one of the reasons my child was under the influence of the spirits, the father said; the devils mastered my life, and they mastered my son's life. They took possession over the life of my child.” The father had once known the Lord, but he backslid, went away from God. The devil told him that he could not live unless he accepted the devils of witchcraft – and he believed it. The devils have power to kill those not protected by the blood of Jesus, and they do kill.
Seven Witch Doctors
The father went on to tell how he received this power from the devil: “When I turned myself over to the devil” he said, “I was taken into a round grass hut. Seven witch doctors were around me. They started charming.” The witch doctors were dancing, rattling gourds. They actually call up devils that way. This is not make-believe. The witch doctors charm the spirits – the devils – when they want them to come upon themselves in a great way and take them over, or when they want someone killed or manipulated in some manner. “The spirits came mightily upon me,” he said, “upon my head.”
This demonic power, these devils had taken him over, possessed him completely.
“I became transformed that night. After that, I was taken out to the open air, and the witch doctors sacrificed some goats. I returned to the hut. Later I was taken out again in the cold hours of the morning to a pool or stream of water to bathe. After sacrificing more goats, I had to carry parts of their organs on my head back to the pool. This was to signify that the spirits agreed that I should be working along with the witch doctors.”Remember, this man had backslidden from God. That's the reason the devils were able to take possession of him. Jesus warned people of the danger of devil possession, of the state a person is in who goes away from God. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. (Matthew 12:43-45).
The Devils Will Return
The devils can be cast out of a person, but if the person does not take Jesus into his heart and soul, the devils will return. Without Jesus, the soul is empty no matter what man puts in it. As far as the devils are concerned, the house is not furnished. The devils had gone out of the father years ago when he found Jesus, but when he went away from God he was taken over by the devils in a greater way. His story fits right into this scripture in Matthew. The devil took full possession of him.
Now is the Time of Salvation!
Moses was the deliverer for his people. They cried out to God and He heard them and made provisions for their deliverance. Will you let Him make provision for your deliverance, healing?
Many have viewed Him as only a man or a prophet. He was more than just a man. He is the Christ. Many have decided that they don't want what Jesus is offering life eternal. So many have rejected His call down through the ages. But the time will come when some will decide that they want God and Jesus Christ, the meek and lowly lamb who has tried numerous times to work with them, manifesting himself to them; He will no longer look and them. Jesus will no longer want you those who, maybe for the last time, reject His call of mercy.
Now is the time of salvation . Now is the time to make your crooked paths strait. Now is the time to give all. Now is the time to leave that life of sin and look at Jesus and gain and live. Now is the time to Live. Now is the time of God’s great love. It’s time to live.
Genesis 6:3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh. Jesus, our serpent on the cross is calling you today. Don't turn away. He is calling you with a blood-forgiving voice. He is calling you with a voice full of compassion and forgiveness. Jesus is calling to each and every one in this last and final hour. Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Why not live today.Why not give God an opportunity in your life. You have tried everything else. You have sought love from all the wrong places. Now come to the one true SOURCE. God is waiting to use you if you would only give Him a chance.
Please repeat this simple prayer with me, asking Jesus to cleanse you of all unrighteousness. He is able to restore, create, deliver, and most importantly, save you. He is willing. He is ready. He wants you, dear one. No one has ever loved you like Jesus. He does love you.
Oh, God! I have sinned against you. I am so sorry! I have come home, and I'm going to serve you, Lord, the rest of my life. I do believe. I do believe that you are able to deliver me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that the blood of your Son, Jesus Christ can make me clean and whole. Come on into my heart and help me. Help me, Lord. I trust and believe that through the blood, I can make it. I do believe that I can make it with your help. Oh, Lord, I want your help. I no longer want to be bondage to sin and sickness. Save my soul. Love me, Jesus. I must have your love. Love me, Jesus. Come on into my heart, Jesus! Come in!
Join me in the next issue and see what becomes of Boaz and Abbey! God Bless You.
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