As I enter his house the sun has already set. The only light in the room come from his cellphone camera and I sit down on a thin mattress on the floor, thanking the siblings who showed me the way.
I have just sent a reportage about the slavery and human rights in Mauritania to Etc when I’m invited for tea by an acquaintance in Atar. I was already late for another invitation and so the tea was pushed forward to the evening.
“Monica! I thought you had forgotten. Great you’re here, I’ll get the things for tea.” Abo says and call a little boy, not more than six or seven years old. “Mini, get the teastuff.” The little boy come with a tray with glasses, teapots and shortly after he come dragging a gas cooker.
A moment later, when we’re having the second glass of tea, the little boy comes in and lay down on one of the mattresses. “He’s tired,” Abo says.
“Me too hey,” I say. “Who is he by the way? Is he your brother?”
“He? My brother?” Abo asked me appalled and opened his eyes wide in the dusk. “Nonononono, he’s not my brother.”
“Then who is he?”
He changed the music and dragged with the answer.
“He is… he… s…. he is for my older brother. It’s his son.”
A moment later he calls on the little boy to fetch a pen. “Does he do everything here?” I ask.
“How do you mean?”
“Get stuff, cleans… don’t you to anything yourself?”
“Ehh… it’s like… it’s what he does.” he says and shrug his shoulders.
“But it’s late. He’s tired, he wants to sleep.”
“Yes yes he will sleep. Later. Afterwards.”
“But it’s late, he should already be asleep” I say and Abo is suddenly very engaged with his telephone.
The little boy, Mini, is a typical example of a slave. His skin is black and he serves light skinned people. He is being payed nothing and is not allowed to go to school. Not even Koranic school which is compulsory for every Muslim child in Mauritania. He only talks hassaniya and no one ever tells him that he has the right to demand another life. That he has the right to demand to go to school.
Not even me. Because I don’t speak hassaniya.
I told my friend Christoph about it later in the evening.
“What did you do?” he asked.
“What could you have done? Nothing. Sometimes it is like that Monica, but you are here. You are talking about it. That is something.”
But is it enough?
In the near future you will be able to read my reportage (in Swedish) about the human rights in Mauritania in the magazine Etc.