The insurgents who have fled from invading French troops in Mali have been taking with them some of their most important possessions — slaves.One of the artifacts of slavery is that its abolition has the effect of destroying a lot of wealth held by the elites, and the elites tend not to view this favorably.
The Tuareg tribes that overran Mali's military with the help of Arab extremist groups aligned with al-Qaeda have long held slaves and many of the captives are from families that have been enslaved for generations.
"It's no way to live, without your freedom," said Mohammed Yattara, a former slave who ran away from his Tuareg masters years ago.
"You depend on them for everything. If they tell you to do something, you have to do it, or they will beat you," he said as he sat with the chief of the village of Toya and among men and women who were descendants of slaves or former slaves.
For some historical perspective, note that the first war in North America over the issue of slavery was the War of Texas Independence, and the slave holders won. (Yes, this was the primary causus belli was slavery, so the Mexicans were the good guys, but they lost, so the Texans wrote the history.)