Francis Bok (easy version)

Francis Bok grew up in Gourion in the southern Sudan. His father was a rich farmer who grew corn and peanuts. He also had hundreds of chickens, cows, goats, and sheep. Francis’ father had two wives and eight children. Of all his children, he liked Francis best because he was such a hard worker. Francis loved his father and he wanted to be just like him when he grew up.

There was a market in another town, close to Gourion. Francis’ father sold corn and peanuts and animals there and he often took Francis with him. But Francis was not allowed to go there alone until he was seven. Then one day in 1986 his mother asked him to take some eggs and peanuts to the market for her. He went with several other children who were used to working in the market. His mother knew they would look after Francis.

Francis and the other children worked in the market for three or four hours. Everything was going well. Then they suddenly heard the noise of guns. People were shouting and picking up their things and running away. Before Francis and his friends had time to run away, more than a hundred men came into the market. Some of them were riding horses. They were carrying guns and swords. They quickly killed all the men who were still in the market.

When Francis tried to run away he was stopped by a man on a big horse. He made Francis stand in a group with all the other children. The women were put into a separate group.

Then the children were taken away. The bigger ones had to carry the food they had been selling. The smaller ones like Francis were put into big baskets that were carried by donkeys.

The children travelled a long way. Finally, in the middle of the night, they stopped and slept. In the morning, the men divided the children between them. The man who got Francis was called Giemma. He put Francis behind him on his horse and rode with him to his farm. Francis had become his slave. Giemma could do whatever he wanted with him.

When they got to Giemma’s farm, his wife and two children were waiting for him. Francis was happy to see the children. He thought he would be able to play with them, but, to his surprise, as soon as he got off the horse, Giemma’s son and daughter began hitting him with sticks. They were laughing and singing as they did it. Giemma and his wife watched and they laughed too.

Like Francis’ father, Giemma had hundreds of animals—goats, sheep, cows, and camels. Giemma showed Francis where he was going to sleep. It was a very small, uncomfortable place like a house for an animal. For two weeks Francis just stayed in his little house. Giemma gave him little bits of food to eat—whatever was left over after his family had eaten.

slave:
person who is owned by another person

sword:
long knife-shaped piece of metal used for fighting

capital:
city where government is

peanut:
large seed that grows underground; eaten by humans in many places; also called a ‘groundnut’

stick:
long narrow piece of wood