1-11 of 11 Results  for:

  • Slavery and Slave Trade x
  • East Africa and Indian Ocean x
Clear all

Article

Africans in the Indian Ocean World  

Richard B. Allen

The African diaspora in the Indian Ocean is inextricably intertwined with slavery and slave trading in an oceanic world that encompasses southern and eastern Africa, the Red Sea, the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf, South Asia, the Indonesian archipelago, and parts of East Asia. A combination of factors, including the cost of free labor, high morbidity and mortality rates from diseases such as malaria and smallpox, and the perceived attributes of different African peoples spurred the exportation by Arab, Muslim, and Swahili merchants of an estimated 2.9–3.65 million men, women, and children from diverse populations in southern and eastern Africa, Madagascar, and the Horn of Africa to Arabia, the Persian Gulf, South Asia, and Southeast Asia between 800 and c.1900. European involvement in this transoceanic slave trade began during the early 16th century and continued well into the 19th century. This diaspora’s legacy includes the presence of communities of African descent in modern Iran, India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.

Article

Archaeology and Heritage of Slavery in Eastern Africa  

Lydia Wilson Marshall

Despite its long history in the region, slavery in Eastern Africa has attracted little archaeological attention. This deficit is partly due to the reticence of many Eastern Africans to discuss slavery, a historically painful topic. In addition, some archaeologists have expressed skepticism about the material visibility of the practice. That is, they question whether slavery can be archaeologically identified. Given these concerns, those archaeologists who have pursued the study of slavery in Eastern Africa tend to focus on the 18th and 19th centuries, when historical documentation of the practice is well established. Archaeologists in the region have considered slavery in a variety of settings—including not only plantations but also contexts of slaving and emancipation. Research in Eastern Africa has helped to challenge and complicate definitions of slavery rooted in American historical experience. Yet, perspectives on slavery from outside of the region continue to shape public memory in Eastern Africa; increased outside interest and investment in the heritage of slavery has begun to influence both memorialization and the practice of memory itself. For example, heritage funding from UNESCO is tied to particular expectations for how slavery is defined and what counts as heritage. In this context, archaeologists studying slavery in Eastern Africa grapple with their responsibilities to many different stakeholders and audiences. In particular, they continue to work to make slavery research and memorialization more meaningful to Eastern Africans themselves. In addition, researchers have begun to develop methodological tools to push the study of slavery in Eastern Africa to deeper time periods less undergirded by historical documents.

Article

Archaeology of Caves along the East African Coast  

Ceri Shipton and Jim Crowther

Caves in uplifted limestone running from southern Kenya to Zanzibar were occupied by hunter-gatherers since the late Middle Stone Age approximately eighty thousand years ago. At that age they were a novel setting for human occupation away from the savannah landscapes of the East African interior. One of these caves, Panga ya Saidi, has yielded the earliest evidence for the Later Stone Age (LSA) anywhere in Africa, beginning sixty-seven thousand years ago. This cave is one of the only sites in Africa to have repeated human occupation throughout the major climatic fluctuations of the last eighty thousand years, a situation facilitated by its ecotonal and near-coastal setting. The rising sea levels after twenty thousand years ago saw more widespread coastal occupations including of Kuumbi Cave on Zanzibar, which was at that time joined to the mainland. A major transition in the occupation histories of the caves occurs in the late 1st millennium ce, with Iron Age ceramics appearing at many cave sites on the mainland coast and offshore islands, where they become increasingly prevalent into the 2nd millennium. The colonization of offshore islands occurs alongside the first definitive evidence for human occupation in Madagascar, including foragers living in cave sites. On both the mainland and offshore islands a continuing tradition of stone tool manufacture persists with the occasional use of domestic crops and livestock, demonstrating interactions between foraging and early farming communities. Glass beads show the cave occupants became part of Indian Ocean trade networks, likely exchanging forest products with Swahili merchants. Ancient DNA analysis indicates the survival of ancient hunter-gatherer ancestry well into the 2nd millennium ce. In the early 21st century, many of these caves are venerated as places of the ancestors and other spirit beings.

Article

Combat Games in the Black Atlantic, 17–19th Centuries  

Matthias Röhrig Assunção

Combat games are attested in Africa from the time of the transatlantic slave trade and throughout the 19th century. In the agricultural societies in the rainforest of West and West Central Africa, wrestling was the most common form, while pastoral societies in the savannahs of central and southern Africa excelled in stick fighting. Fist fighting, slap boxing, and kicking also constituted the base of combat games in some locations. The enslaved Africans and their descendants made use of these bodily techniques in the plantation societies of the Americas and the Indian Ocean. The new oppressive context of slavery led to adjustments of techniques and practice. Stick fighting was widespread in Brazil and the Caribbean, whereas wrestling only became important in the United States. The previously rather marginal techniques of kicking and head butting became central to capoeira, ladja, and moring, even though it is difficult to establish precise genealogies. Bodily techniques were onlys one aspect of the complex cultural reinvention of combat games in the Atlantic world. African religious practices such as protections from supernatural forces and broader cultural meanings were incorporated into African-derived and creole combat games. While keeping some of their former social function, combat games in the “New World” also acquired new, contradictory meanings as either tools of resistance, spectacle for monetary gains, or even instruments of oppression. They provided an early example of globalization of bodily techniques and cultural meanings, and the most successful ones, such as capoeira, continue to expand worldwide to this day.

Article

The History of the Makonde of Mozambique  

Paolo Israel

The Makonde people of northern Mozambique coalesced during the convulsions generated by the Indian Ocean slave trade. Originally an acephalous society composed of independent hamlets under the loose leadership of a lineage head, the Makonde engaged en masse in the armed struggle for the liberation of Mozambique, which was fought for ten years against Portuguese colonialism (1964–1974). The war and the socialist revolution that ensued thoroughly reshaped Makonde society. The Makonde relocated into communal villages; partook in collective production; scattered throughout the country; and embraced Mozambique’s single party, Frelimo, as a cornerstone of their identity. The liberation struggle also wrought important changes in gender relations, with the engagement of women in guerrilla and political activities. These transformations entailed the adoption of a hierarchical social structure, which superseded—and conflicted with—the horizontal organization of Makonde precolonial society. The Makonde are renowned for their vibrant artistic expression. Their mapiko masks are striking both as plastic objects and for the multifarious performances in which they take life. In the late colonial period, prompted by the patronage of missionaries and traders, a new sculptural tradition emerged, often referred to as “Makonde modern carving.” Executed on African blackwood, largely for an export market, these artworks are characterized by their intricate patterns. The two most recognizable genres are ujamaa, which represents the unity of socialist village life, and shetani, depicting creatures from the spirit world. The Makonde also possess rich song and musical traditions, which convey poignant narratives and criticisms of the dramatic transformations their society underwent. Since late 2017, the Makonde have been severely impacted by the Islamist insurgency that has exploded in the province of Cabo Delgado, resulting in massive displacement and remilitarization.

Article

Liberated Africans  

Richard Anderson

“Liberated Africans” refers to a group of African-born men, women, and children intercepted by naval forces from slave ships and slave trading factories in the Atlantic and Indian oceans as part of the 19th-century campaign to abolish the transoceanic slave trade from Africa. Following the passage of Britain’s 1807 Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, the British Royal Navy patrolled both the Atlantic and Indian oceans in order to suppress the external trade from Africa. Captured vessels were taken to a series of Vice-Admiralty courts, and later Mixed Commission courts, located in Freetown, Sierra Leone; Havana, Cuba; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tortola; Cape Town, South Africa; James Town, St. Helena; Luanda, Angola; and Port Luis, Mauritius. Naval interdiction by Brazil, Portugal, the United States, and other powers resulted in a smaller number of cases brought before unilateral anti-slave-trade tribunals. Between 1808 and 1896, this complex tribunal network “liberated” approximately 214,000 Africans who survived the Middle Passage. Perhaps 75,000 of these individuals were settled in Sierra Leone; the remainder were settled in the British Caribbean, Brazil, Cuba, Liberia, and British colonies and outposts from the Gambia, Cape Colony, and Mauritius, to Mombasa, Zanzibar, and Bombay. The arrival of an estimated 192,000 Liberated Africans into Atlantic ports continued through the demise of the transatlantic slave trade in the 1860s. In the Indian Ocean, approximately 22,000 Liberated Africans disembarked in East Africa, the Persian Gulf, and India as a result of a highly uneven British naval campaign from 1808 into the 1890s. Many Liberated Africans experienced very liminal freedom. Adults and children were apprenticed to colonial inhabitants for periods of up to fourteen years. Men were conscripted into the British West India Regiments and Royal African Corps. Many women were forcibly married to strangers soon after arrival. Approximately one out of every four Liberated Africans underwent a second oceanic passage, most of them forcibly relocated to the British West Indies. The settlement of Liberated Africans—referred to by British officials as their “disposal”—represented a sizable involuntary African migration into and across the British Empire in the decades after the abolition of the British slave trade. Their arrival brought with it a lasting linguistic and cultural impact in many colonial societies. The descendants of Liberated Africans remain identifiable communities in many postcolonial societies from Africa to the Caribbean.

Article

Nampula  

Daria Trentini

The city of Nampula is the capital of Nampula Province, an agricultural region situated in the Nacala Development Corridor connecting Malawi and Zambia to the coastal port of Nacala. Founded at the beginning of the 20th century by the Portuguese army, Nampula was located at the crossroads of trading and migration routes that had connected the interior of Southern Africa to the Indian Ocean for centuries. Under colonial occupation, Nampula served as a military garrison for launching military operations to subdue and occupy the interior of northern Mozambique, the last undefeated region of the Portuguese empire. The subsequent construction of infrastructure and the advent of commercial agriculture transformed Nampula into the main economic and administrative hub of the northern region of Mozambique. Following independence in 1975, the demographic and territorial expansion of Nampula was informed by socialist governance as well as by a prolonged civil war that brought thousands of refugees from the surrounding rural areas. The economic liberalizations in the 1990s and the mineral discoveries in the northern region of Cabo Delgado in the 2010s consolidated the role of Nampula as a commercial and trade center for national and international capital. The economic boom—alongside increasing rural poverty and ongoing internal and external conflicts—has continued to attract migrants from the rural regions, as well as from across the country and continent, making Nampula the third-largest city in Mozambique, with a population of 743,125 and an area of 404 square kilometers.

Article

Routes to Emancipation in East Africa  

Felicitas Becker and Michelle Liebst

Slaves, ex-slaves, and their descendants have taken multiple and complex routes toward emancipation in East Africa. Their experiences varied regionally, with status contests most clearly traceable in those areas where slavery had been most concentrated, especially on the coast. As scholars have established, the legal abolition of slavery did not lead directly to emancipation in East Africa, but it contributed to the quick erosion of slavery-based labor regimes around 1900. Ex-slaves pursued economic security and livelihoods through access to land and wage labor and sought to shed the stigma of slave origins by seeking religious affiliations, education, ethnic identities, and kinship ties. Routes to emancipation were highly gendered as female slaves within owners’ households lacked both political support and legal rights to their children. Moreover, male ex-slaves’ ambitions to assert their own patriarchal status by controlling women could be a major obstacle for ex-slave women’s search for emancipation. Although political independence in the 1960s encouraged the condemnation of slavery as an aberration from a different era, slavery-derived social differences linger, and people with a genealogy of slavery may face status implications in certain situations. Though East African societies, rural ones especially, are readily characterized as timelessly egalitarian, they struggle to this day with the legacy of slavery and incomplete emancipation.

Article

Slavery and Forced Labor in Madagascar  

Gwyn R. Campbell

Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, was first permanently settled in about the mid-9th century. Slavery was present on the island from the first, but a slave export trade became significant only from the mid-18th century because of demand from the French islands of Réunion and Mauritius. Most of the literature has focused on slavery in, and the slave trades involving, Imerina, until 1817 a landlocked kingdom in the central highlands of Madagascar. In 1820, Radama I of Imerina signed a treaty with the British in which he banned the slave export trade. However, the measure was effective only in Merina-controlled regions of the island, and the traffic in slaves, predominantly to the French islands of the western Indian Ocean, continued, albeit in clandestine form. Moreover, the 1820 ban applied only to exports, and there arose a lively trade in imported East African slaves. At the same time, Merina military expansion resulted in the enslavement of thousands of non-Merina Malagasy women and children. Of greater significance than slavery was forced labor. In pre-colonial times, fanompoana, or unremunerated forced labor for the Merina crown, was originally an honorary service of limited duration. However, from 1820, it was applied on such a scale that it resulted in the impoverishment of the vast bulk of ordinary people subjected to Merina authority. In 1896, following the French takeover of the island, the colonial regime decreed the abolition of slavery but maintained a system of corvée labor as exploitative as pre-colonial fanompoana. Many former slaves chose to remain in servitude to their former masters rather than become subject to corvées, which also underlay a massive revolt that erupted in 1947 in the coffee-growing regions of the eastern littoral, foreshadowing the demise of French colonial rule. In the post-independence era, a forced labor regime for youths was reinstituted from 1978 to 1990, while descendants of ex-slaves have largely retained their servile status, and many have remained socially and economically marginalized.

Article

Slave Trade and Urban Slavery on the Swahili Coast from Medieval Times to Abolition  

Thomas Vernet-Habasque

Swahili culture is an African, Islamic, coastal, and urban-oriented culture that developed on the eastern coast of Africa. The Swahili coast extends from southern Somalia to Mozambique and to the offshore islands. Urban settlements of various sizes, including prosperous stone towns, were numerous on the coast. The Swahili were engaged in maritime trade and acted as middlemen between the Indian Ocean networks and the mainland networks held by neighboring non-Islamic communities. As evidenced by the earliest historical sources, slave trading and slavery were common practices along the coast, as in other African or Islamic societies. Slavery was regulated by Koranic principles and legitimized by Islamic discourses. Domination and hierarchization were also based on paternalism and the opposition between “civilization” and “barbarity,” the coast and the mainland. Yet, dependence was complex: chattel slavery was just one form of dependence, and like clients, slaves were valued as much as followers as they were producers. As such, slavery was also characterized by patron–client relationships. The boom of the plantation economy during the 19th century has overshadowed the study of slavery and the slave trade on the coast through the longue durée, and this latter perspective also helps with stepping back from an external (i.e., Arabo-centric) angle, focusing on the Busaidi state of Zanzibar and the experience of slavery in the Middle East. During the Middle Ages, the slave trade from the coast was steady but not massive, mostly furnishing demand in the Gulf and southern Arabia. Networks are better known during the early modern era thanks to a much larger body of evidence. The Swahili never produced slaves but obtained them through contact with their trading partners. Mainland slave trade networks were not widespread, and major exporting areas were always specific: mostly Madagascar until the mid-18th century, northern Mozambique and the Lake Nyasa regionand, later in the 19th century, the hinterland of the Tanganyika coast and the region of Lake Tanganyika. The spread of global capitalism, the boom of the plantation economy, and the economic prosperity from the 1840s led to a dramatic rise of slavery on the coast, where approximately 40 to 65 percent of the population was servile around the 1880s. Slaves were ubiquitous in the urban context and did all sorts of work, from domestic female slaves to skilled workers and hired slaves with a large autonomy. The urban environment offered more opportunities for slaves to gain autonomy, respectability, and the possibility of manumission. This was based not only on access to the commercial economy but also on better access to urban and Islamic life and manners, which were structural features of coastal culture. Within the frame of clientship relations and respectability, enslaved people could thus hope for a better life and emancipation. However, this flexibility was a way to preserve the slaving system, and the experience of slaves was always scarred by violence, oppression, and vexation.

Article

The Indian Ocean and Africa  

Edward A. Alpers

The Indian Ocean has occupied an important place in the history of Africa for millennia, linking the continental land mass to the peoples, products, and ideas of the wider Indian Ocean world (IOW). Central to this relationship are environmental factors, including the biannual operation of monsoon winds, which determined the maritime movement of people, things, and ideas. The earliest of these connections involve the movement of food crops, domestic animals, and commensals both from and into Africa and its offshore islands. From the beginnings of the Current Era, Africa was an important Indian Ocean source of valuable commodities, such as ivory and gold; in more recent times, hardwood products like mangrove poles, and agricultural products like cloves, coconuts, and copra gained economic prominence. Enslaved African labor also had a long history in the IOW, the sources and destinations for the export trade varying over time. In addition, for centuries many different Indian Ocean immigrant communities played important roles as settlers, merchants, sailors, and soldiers. In the realm of culture and ideas, African music, dance, and spiritual concepts accompanied those Africans who were forcibly removed from the continent to the different Indian Ocean lands where they were enslaved. A further indicator of Indian Ocean connectivity is Islam, the introduction of which marks an important watershed in African history. The human settlement of Madagascar marks another significant Indian Ocean connection for Africa. At different times and in different ways, colonial rule—Portuguese, Dutch, Omani, French, and British—tied eastern African territories to India, Arabia, and Southeast Asia. Since regaining independence, African nation-states have established a variety of new linkages to other Indian Ocean states.