Oprah: Walk away from it.
Uwem: Walk away from it. And then you'd see something in the world, in the real world, like you'd see Mexicans doing everything to come into the U.S. They come in these lorries all locked up. Someone could die in that, you know, closed space. And you see the, you know, the struggle, you know, to get to a place where things are working. You also notice it in Eastern Europe. Child trafficking. You even notice it among adults who have been deceived that they're going to Western countries to get better jobs and then they arrive there and they're stock in brothels. And then I, I saw that France, some people from France came to Africa. You know, this Darfur crisis, they went to Chad, they deceived some children and their parents and were about to herd them onto the plane to Europe when they were caught. Now I would...
Oprah: Herd them onto the plane for sexual trafficking?
Uwem: I don't know what they wanted to use them for. They were being taken to France. And they were caught at the airport. BBC reported that story. For a moment there France was like, okay, this is a terrible thing, a terrible thing, and yet France, you know, negotiated with the Chadian government and those people were released. I don't know what they did with them in France.
Oprah: So let's go to Jennifer from Concord, North Carolina, with a question about the ending, go ahead. The ending of Fattening for Gabon. Go ahead, Jennifer.
Jennifer: Thank you so much, Oprah. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. I want to say when I read that last sentence of that story, I just felt like my brain was numb and my heart was aching. And I had to close the book and put it down and just had so many thoughts running through my head about what happened to Yewa. Was her life destined to be a horrible, traumatic existence? Or in my mind I wanted to believe is it possible that she could have gone to a family that would love her? Was that even an option for her?
Oprah: I didn't think that at all.I thought horror.I mean, I've done on this show with many different people, I mean, Ricky Martin was on here a while back and I remember Ricky doing some stories and working towards getting money, earning money for, against child trafficking. And I remember at the time thinking, gee, that's a good cause but not really feeling what the children felt. It wasn't until I read this story that I was able to feel what the children feel. And so, no, I didn't, at the end of the story, think that she was going to go to a good family or have a decent life at all. I just thought it was going to be horrible. What did you think? You wrote it.
Jennifer: Except in my heart I wanted to believe that she would because it was so hard to deal with that ending for myself personally.
Oprah: Well, that's the reality of child sexual slavery, child, you know, prostitution, child trafficking. That's the reality of it. That's really why you wrote it, isn't it?
Uwem: Yeah. I wanted, you know, I... Many times we hear these reports and stories from the adult perspective.
Uwem: You know.What about the child? How is this child processing this?
Uwem: You know, these things. Daily. And what level of manipulation, you know, makes it possible for these children, you know, how are they being prepared?
Oprah: See, now what I think you said earlier, Father, is so valuable in so many areas. Because when you were saying you look through the eyes of an 8-year-old because when something is happening to an 8-year-old, they don't have the words to explain it. Particularly when it comes to sexual behavior, sexual violence. That's why children don't tell.
Oprah: You know, in any situation.
Oprah: Because they don't have the words or the, the language to even express what it is that is happening to them.
Uwem: That's true.
Oprah: They just feel instinctively that maybe this is wrong, or this is our secret, or all of that confusion that the perpetrators want you to feel, actually.
Oprah: That's a part of the act of violence against the children.
Uwem: It is. It is.
Oprah: Thank you so much for your call, North Carolina. So the reality for these children, had you seen other stories or experienced other children who had been trafficked?
Uwem: No. No, no, I did not. I write the stories first and then I go to research and research, by research, sometimes I mean going to get the language, the pattern, right, you know. So for me, imagination is very important in the writing of stories.
Oprah: This was so powerful because, as is true for even slavery, if, you know, when the slave trade first started and the slaves were first stolen from Africa, there were other people who participated in Africa in the slave trade, in the selling of their brothers and sisters. And the fact that the uncle was getting the children ready, fattening them up for Gabon, I thought was particularly compelling. And horror, horror filled but...
Uwem: Yeah. It took me a while.I tried to work it out in my head. How do you prepare children, you know, how do you get them to accept this dream and agenda and go along with, you know, with it. You know, those guys, that family that tried to, you know, the balloon thing in Denver?
Uwem: You know, they did not prepare their children well. So the child came on TV and said this was supposed to be a show, you know?
Uwem: So it takes real manipulation. And sometimes it's not only children that are manipulated. We were manipulated to accept the Iraq War, and we are adults. We are an educated country. Germany was manipulated to kill the Jews. And Germany has very wonderful literature. So you can imagine this then with children.
Oprah: How easy it is to manipulate children.