"I was a child slave"
By Angela Saini
Debra Chidakwa was a slave in Zimbabwe from the age of nine. Her harrowing story illustrates that slavery is still a fact of life in some parts of the world, including London
Debra Chidakwa suffered a horrifying childhood as a slave in Zimbabwe during the 1970s.
"I was already a woman before I was a child," says Debra.
Similar to many young children who are forced to work as childminders and servants in parts of the developing world, Debra was forced to work long hours, taking care of a young baby as well cleaning and fetching water for the family she lived with.
Two decades later, Debra’s experience is still echoed by millions of children worldwide.
A lifetime of abuse
In her teens, after a childhood of slavery, Debra joined black nationalists in the Zimbabwean war against the white minority government.
"The world is not as rosy as people believe. For poor people slavery has not ended, and young people are being exploited across Africa and the rest of the world," says Debra.
Debra says that many young people are routinely trafficked into the UK, where they are forced to work as house servants.
Debra's latest book
"Even in London there are people who are forced to work in terrible conditions because they have no other choice," she adds.
Victory over adversity
Debra has managed to overcome the battles she faced growing up. In her early twenties she managed to escape a cycle of abuse in Zimbabwe and built a new life for herself and her children in London.
Her most recent book, “This is my story and this is my song” is available through Arima Publishing. "The book is full of passion, anger, bitterness, fear, horror and it is full of love," she writes.
To watch Angela’s interview with Debra Chidakwa click on the link at the top right of this page.
last updated: 01/01/2008 at 17:33