Kevin Bales who is Professor of Contemporary Slavery at Nottingham University gave a talk to Quakers in Yorkshire the Saturday before half term where some of our students had the opportunity to hear him. Read below for student Misan Kakayor’s thoughts on the fascinating talk.

Last Saturday, a talk was given by Kevin Bales, Professor of Contemporary Slavery at
Nottingham University. The audience consisted mostly of senior Quakers, parents,
teachers and a handful of students.
He was a brilliant speaker, and quickly I was wrenched from my blissfully ignorant state
as a bucket of ice-cold reality was poured down my back. I was more than shocked to
hear that slavery still exists in the world today in the cruel, abusive and lethal way that
it did before (slave-masters with whips and all)- perhaps even worse as people are
cheaper now (imagine your whole family being bought for 10 packets of 180g Doritos).
And cheap equals disposable. A human life, which is usually considered invaluable, was
suddenly disposable.
Kevin also showed us the devastating effects these actions have on our environment,
touching on government-protected reserves that are illegally dug out into quarries and
deforestation in the Amazon to make charcoal, destroying some of the world’s largest
carbon sinks; and the panning for gold using mercury in Ghana, polluting the water
source used by villages downstream.
But the mood was lifted when we heard the efforts to conquer both of these major
issues taking place in the Amazon, where ex-slaves and ex-slave-owners are replanting
the Amazon, aiming to restore it to its former glory which their grandparents told them
of.
I was given much to think about…how could I not be disturbed by these events? The
everyday choices I make and the things I do affect these people. How could I help? What
can we do? These were questions that I’m sure plagued the minds of everyone in that
room when, as is the custom of Quakers, the meeting ended in silence.

Misan Kakayor, College One
October 2017