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Article

Global Abolitionist Movements  

Benedetta Rossi

Abolitionism succeeded thanks to the struggles of many movements, some genuinely global, others national or local but interconnected at a global level. This article takes a pluralist approach to global abolitionism. Since the late 17th century, the membership, objectives, and strategies of different abolitionist movements have been varied, but they shared the same objective: to impose their understanding of slavery as an aberration that ought to be de-legalized and eventually prohibited worldwide. This article periodizes global abolitionism in three main stages characterized, successively, by the primacy of egalitarianism, imperialism, and internationalism. By the mid-20th century, pro-slavery ideologies were obsolete in Euro-America and had disappeared from official policy globally. They survived in circumscribed contexts in which anti-slavery activists are struggling against the lingering vitality of pro-slavery ideas in the 21st century.

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Women in West African History  

Barbara Cooper

Across West Africa up to the 19th century, titled positions for women ensured that women’s interests could be voiced and their disputes regulated. Women often had major roles as brokers and intermediaries in trade centers along the Saharan and Atlantic littorals, contributing to the emergence of powerful Euro-African families. Nevertheless, women were particularly vulnerable to the depredations of the trans-Saharan and Atlantic slave trades. Because female labor was so highly valued, female slaves were more expensive than male slaves. The history of women in West Africa has been characterized by marked differences by ecological zone. Those differences have been deepened by Islamic influences in the North and by different experiences under French, British, and Portuguese rule. With the decline in the Atlantic trade and the growing emphasis upon commodity production, the demand for female labor in agriculture and in processing rose. Under colonial rule, the loss of slave labor was partially offset by increasing demands upon the labor of wives. Women mediated demands upon their labor through colonial courts, with some success in the early decades of the 20th century. Later courts and administrators supported patriarchal controls upon women in the interests of order and a smoothly running economy. Women’s control over their traditional means of accumulating wealth through farming, cloth production, and specialized crafts was typically undermined as economies shifted to emphasize cash crop production and tree crops in particular. Women nevertheless could flourish in market trade and could sometimes gain control over new niches in the economy. The growth of colonial infrastructure had contradictory implications. Women’s traditionally important roles as queens, priestesses, and ritual specialists declined in importance. At the same time, schooling gave some women access to new means of gaining income and prestige as teachers and medical practitioners.

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.

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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

Christianity and Abolition in Africa  

Paul Kollman

Efforts to mitigate slavery in Africa were multidimensional. Many drew upon Christian discourses and institutions, yet fully assessing Christian antislavery in Africa raises complex moral and historical questions. Christian abolitionism inspired missionaries throughout Africa and the diaspora, helped generate support for Christian missions, advanced global treaties that made slavery illegal, and profoundly shaped 20th- and 21st-century African Christianity, including through the evangelization of slaves, some of whom became famous abolitionists themselves. Antislavery appealed to humanitarian instincts among Christian missionaries, their benefactors, and European populations, and it undoubtedly alleviated some suffering. Notwithstanding the benevolence in such motivations, racialized paternalism was also in operation. Moreover, like slavery for export, antislavery altered African political economies, sometimes abruptly, helping some Africans and disempowering others. It also legitimated eventual colonial rule in Africa, since depictions of a vulnerable, slave-ridden continent implicitly defended European intervention as an urgent humanitarian undertaking. Europeans also applied antislavery unevenly in Africa due to their own self-interests, often, for example, delaying emancipation (legally ending all slavery) because it threatened labor systems deemed vital for colonial order and economies. Christian antislavery impulses and actions, whether to stop the slave trade or in pursuit of legal abolition, thus resist generalization and do not allow easy self-congratulation for either defenders of European colonization or Christians, African or non-African.

Article

Islam and Emancipation  

Sean Hanretta

Emancipation is a broad concept that includes liberation from slavery as well as broader projects of self-fulfillment. Muslims in Africa have drawn on Islamic sources both to justify and to critique enslavement, slaveholding, and slavery as an institution. Commercial law in particular recognized slave owners’ rights and early debates focused on categories of enslaveability. Slaves themselves drew on Islamic resources to improve their personal situation, to press for reforms, and to critique or try to overthrow the institution as a whole. Political transformations often created openings for more radical attempts to remake social hierarchies in the name of Islam, while Islamic revolutions both disrupted and facilitated the slave trade, depending on time and place. More broadly, critiques of other forms of ascriptive inequality, such as those based on race, caste, former slave status or slave descent, gender, and sexuality, have had equally complex relationships with the ways people have drawn on Islam. Many, but not all, analysts have emphasized the greater effectiveness of emancipatory projects that mobilize Islamic repertoires rather than relying on “Western” ideas of liberalism. The colonial era provided a new set of intellectual and political resources for those seeking to support or critique inequalities in Islamic terms. Halfhearted efforts to abolish slavery created some openings, but colonial commitment to maintaining social order limited its impact. The discursive legacy of colonialism has been more pronounced, particularly by creating an alignment between cultural nationalism and some conservative readings of Islamic sources, while neocolonial discourses can marginalize or even hamper the emancipatory efforts of Muslim activists.

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Routes to Emancipation in Ethiopia  

Alexander Meckelburg and Giulia Bonacci

Slavery and the trade in slaves are deeply rooted in the economic and cultural history of the Ethiopian–Eritrean region. Various polities and societies across the Christian, Semitic languages-speaking highlands, the Rift Valley, and its surrounding lowland regions—bordered by the Nile Valley on the west and the Red Sea coast to the east—engaged in practices of human bondage and trade. These societies practiced manumission culturally, while the legal abolition of slavery and the slave trade were lengthy processes lasting many decades. Abolitionism, as a political process, was influenced by domestic and international political bargaining among regional polities and Western imperial interests. As the leading force of abolition in the 19th century, Britain took relatively late interest in Ethiopia. British abolitionism emerged in the region in order to support colonial and imperial aspirations, which were attached to commercial treaties. Abolition thus looked like a Western import and is still often discussed from a singular Western perspective. The uneven production of knowledge by travelers, diplomats, or the British Anti-Slavery Society amplified the Western abolitionist ideologies and overshadowed the contemporary Ethiopian discourse on abolition. The abolition of slavery became a major bone of contention in Ethiopia’s attempt to become a member of the League of Nations in the 1920s. Eventually, it became a matter of state survival in the standoff between Ethiopia and the threat of an invasion by Italy, which used slavery as a pretext to justify its violent occupation. Despite a long period of abolitionist efforts, slavery died a slow death in Ethiopia and has left a durable imprint on the local societies. Emancipation was never achieved throughout Ethiopia. In some areas, people of slave descent suffer from exclusion and marginalization until the early 21st century.

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Central Africa and the Atlantic World  

Roquinaldo Ferreira

Central Africa became deeply intertwined in the Atlantic world with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1482, which opened up a new world of connections between African societies and European and American partners. As a region, central Africa stretches from Gabon to Mossamedes, near the border of the present nation of Namibia. Two distinct patterns of interaction marked the region’s integration into the wider Atlantic world. On the Loango coast, Atlantic trade by Dutch, British, and French merchants favored African kings in the short term but eventually paved the way for the rise of coastal rulers who seized upon wealth amassed through the slave trade to challenge kingship. After first playing out in the kingdom of Kongo, this dynamic unfolded in several other polities, such as the kingdom of Ngoyo and Ndongo. South of the Congo River, Portugal’s ability to carve out coastal enclaves in Luanda and Benguela powerfully shaped the relationship with the Atlantic world. Both cities developed sprawling trading networks with their immediate hinterlands as well as several cities across the Atlantic, particularly in Brazil but later also in Cuba. Although the slave trade formed the cornerstone of trading networks, a continuum of social, cultural, and political ties bridged the ocean. Portuguese institutional and economic presence was deeply dependent on Angola’s ties with Brazil. The two Portuguese colonies interacted bilaterally, and Brazil was not only the source of commodities for the trade in human beings but also in crops, food supplies, and military hardware. Distinct patterns of Afro-European interaction in Loango and Portuguese Angola should not hide the intense trade between these two regions. Since the 17th century, Luanda had depended on the Loango coast for palm-cloth currencies (libongos) that circulated widely in the capital city of Portuguese Angola. Cabinda men sailed to Luanda to purchase tobacco and sell slaves and other goods. As the French and then the British abandoned the slave trade, the direct slave trade with Brazil intensified and altered the structure of shipments of captives. In addition to the tightening Brazilian grip over central Africa’s slave trade, this development further integrated coastal trade between Loango and Portuguese Angola and set the stage for the continuation of shipments of captives until the 1860s.

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Women’s Emancipation from Slavery in Africa in the 19th and 20th Centuries  

Patricia van der Spuy

Women were the majority of enslaved people in Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries. Slavery was transformed and expanded in the context of so-called “legitimate commerce” that followed the abolition of oceanic slave trading. Abolition proclamations followed, in British colonies in the 1830s, and elsewhere from the 1870s through much of the 20th century, but abolition did not equate to freedom. Gender was at the heart of emancipation everywhere. Colonial merchants and officials colluded with local male elites to ensure the least disruption possible to the status quo. For these male allies, emancipation was a contradiction in terms for women, because masculine authority and control over women was assumed. In many regions, it was difficult for Europeans to distinguish between marriage, pawnship, and slavery. Women engaged strategically with colonial institutions like the courts over such distinctions to assert some form of control over their own lives, labor, and bodies. Where slavery and marriage were categorically distinct, again women might engage with Western gender stereotypes of marriage to extricate themselves from the authority of former slaveholders, or they might withdraw their labor by fleeing from the farms. Whereas for Europeans women were ideally defined as subservient wives within nuclear families, for many women themselves motherhood and access to their children were key to struggles toward emancipation. Women’s decisions about their emancipation were influenced by many factors, including whether or not they were mothers, if they were born into slavery or enslaved as children or adults, their experiences of coercion and cruelty including sexual violence, their status within the slaveholding, and their relationships of dependency and support. Topography and location mattered; urban contexts offered different kinds of post-slavery opportunity for many, and access to land and other economic opportunities and limitations were critical. The abolition of slavery by European colonial officials did not emancipate women, but it did provide the context in which some women might negotiate or claim their own rights to freedom as they defined it—which in some cases meant walking away from systems of involuntary servitude. Some women engaged colonial officers and institutions directly to demand a change in status, whereas others decided to stay in relationships that, in many cases, were subtly redefined.

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Slavery and Post-Slavery in the Indian Ocean World  

Alessandro Stanziani

Unlike the Atlantic, slavery and slave trade in the Indian Ocean persisted over centuries, from antiquity to the present: slavery involved many actors, not necessarily attributed to tensions between the “West and the rest.” Multiple forms of bondage, debt dependence, and slavery persisted and coexisted over centuries, since ancient times, then with the expansion of Islam in the 8th century, and reached a peak with the intrusion of European powers between the 16th and the 19th centuries. However, even after the official abolition of slavery in the western colonies, forms of bondage and illegal slavery have persisted and were openly practiced in the Gulf region through much of the 20th century.

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British Antislavery and West Africa  

Padraic Scanlan

Resistance to slavery within African societies was as complex and heterogeneous as slavery itself. For enslaved Africans and their descendants taken by force to Europe’s colonies in the Americas, antislavery was an existential struggle. Among European states, Britain was among the first imperial powers to pass laws abolishing its slave trade (in 1807) and slavery in its colonies (in 1833). Antislavery was a transnational phenomenon, but Britain made suppressing the Atlantic slave trade an element of its foreign policy, employing a Royal Navy squadron to search for slave ships, pressing African leaders to sign anti-slave-trade treaties as a condition of trade and coordinating an international network of anti-slave-trade courts. And yet, for many leading British abolitionists, “Africa” was an ideological sandbox—an imagined blank space for speculation and experiment on the development of human societies and the progress of “civilization.” In the 18th century, early British critics of the transatlantic slave trade argued that “Africa” presented an unparalleled commercial and imperial opportunity. Although the slave trade—and the plantations in the Americas that slave ships supplied with labor—were profitable, some argued that slave-trading regions could, with enough investment, produce goods and commodities that would be many times more lucrative. Moreover, if Britain were the first European power to abolish the slave trade, it might also be among the first to gain a territorial foothold on African soil. Over time, these arguments coalesced into the concept of “legitimate commerce.” A combination of Christian teaching, slave-trade suppression, and commercial incentives would persuade slave-trading polities to give up the practice and instead produce other goods. Legitimate commerce intertwined with a theory of civilization that held that any society that enslaved people was so degenerate in its social development that nearly any reform or intervention was justifiable. By the end of the 19th century, antislavery became a justification for European conquest. There were at least three broad reform projects launched by British officials and merchants in Africa in the name of antislavery. First, drawing on critiques of the slave trade from the 18th century that emphasized the commercial potential of legitimate commerce, antislavery activists and politicians argued for replacing the slave trade with new kinds of export-oriented commerce. Second, in two colonies, Sierra Leone and Liberia, Britain and the United States experimented with the possibility of using Black people from the African diaspora as settlers and missionaries. In Sierra Leone, more than seventy thousand people, usually known as “Liberated Africans,” were repatriated from slave ships into the small colony. Third, in the mid-19th century, as the transatlantic slave trade declined, Britain and other European powers invested heavily in African plantation agriculture, particularly in cotton and palm oil monocrops.

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Ritual Enslavement in West Africa  

Michael Odijie

Ritual slavery occurs when humans become properties of deities. Ritual slaves fulfill religious purposes for their deity owners, although they may also serve as slaves to a deity’s representative, such as a shrine priest. The transatlantic slave trade altered the ritual slavery practices of communities that were influenced by the slave trade. The abolition of the slave trade also affected the trajectory of ritual slavery. Ritual slavery generally escaped colonial emancipation and the abolition of domestic slavery. As a result, ritual enslavement presents an opportunity to study African indigenous movements for abolition and emancipation, as the colonial administration was typically unconcerned with it and local abolition groups emerged to combat it. The study of ritual enslavement in West Africa mostly focuses on two cases where a domestic campaign evolved. The first is trokosi, which is practiced by the Ga-Adangbe, Fon, and Ewe ethnic groups on Africa’s west coast. Trokosi is the practice of sacrificing young girls to local deities as a means of atonement for misdeeds done by family members. Once dedicated, the girls become slaves of the deity and are typically placed in the custody of the shrine priest, who represents the deity on earth. The second instance is Osu, which is practiced by the Igbo ethnic group in contemporary Nigeria. Osu are people dedicated to becoming properties of the deities. While the majority of the literature has concentrated on trokosi and Osu, owing to the campaign against them, there are other cases for scholars to examine.

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African Slaves and the Persian Gulf  

Hideaki Suzuki

African slaves played significant roles in the history of the Persian Gulf from at least the 9th century onward, during which period the social, political, and economic significance of African slaves saw a number of changes. For example, the 9th-century Abbasid Caliphate was greatly disturbed by the Zanj Revolt (869–883) in which African slaves took a major part; European travelers in the 17th and 18th centuries frequently noted African eunuchs at royal courts and saw African slave soldiers there, while in the 19th and the early 20th centuries, the production of global commodities linking the Persian Gulf with the rest of the world, such as dates and pearls, relied heavily on the labor of enslaved Africans. The historical records are enough to show that most such slaves were shipped to the Persian Gulf from either the East Coast or the Horn of Africa, while genetic studies reveal the significance of West African haplotypes in the population of certain regions of the Persian Gulf. While the flow of African slaves continued until the beginning of the 20th century, there were two peaks, one in the 9th century and the other a thousand years later in the 19th century. The earlier peak was triggered by the demand for labor in lower Iraq during the Abbasid era but had ended by the time of the Zanj Revolt. The second peak was prompted by global demand for dates and pearls and continued until international solidarity developed against the slave trade, which by the beginning of the 20th century had succeeded in blocking the flow of slaves from Africa into the Persian Gulf. Naturally enough, however, even after imports of slaves from Africa had been stopped, slave demand did not cease and slave trade within the Persian Gulf continued. A number of those traded were descendants of Africans notably of individuals traded from Baluchistan to the Arabian side of the Gulf. Eventually, slavery in the Persian Gulf more or less collapsed during the first half of the 20th century, not as a result of international pressure but because of declines in the date and pearl industries.

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Routes to Emancipation in Egypt and the Sudan  

Ahmad Alawad Sikainga

In addition to the fact that the Sudan was a major source of slaves for Egypt for several centuries, Ottoman Egypt conquered and ruled the Sudan from 1820 until 1884 when Egypt was expelled from the country by the Mahdist revolution, which established an independent state in Sudan. However, the Mahdist state was overthrown in 1898 by Britain and Egypt, who established a joint administration that ruled the Sudan until 1956. Although slavery and the slave trade existed in the Sudan for many centuries, they reached a peak during the 19th century due to the policies of the Ottoman-Egyptian government. Slavery continued to persist under the Mahdist state and for several decades after the establishment of the Anglo-Egyptian administration. British antislavery policies focused mainly on combating the slave trade but adopted a gradual approach to the abolition of slavery. However, the expansion of the colonial economy and the wage labor market, the actions of the slaves themselves, and international pressure prompted the colonial government to take active measures to emancipate the slaves during the interwar period. Slavery was also an ancient institution in Egypt, dating back to the pre-Islamic era. Slaves obtained from various locations, including Eastern Europe and Africa, played major roles under the successive Muslim dynasties that ruled Egypt. However, the growth of slave trade and the widespread use of slaves in the 19th century was a direct result of the Ottoman-Egyptian conquest of the Sudan. Slavery thrived in Egypt but changes in the Egyptian economy and the labor system, public opinion, and growing internal pressure led to its demise toward the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Post-Slavery  

Baz Lecocq and Lotte Pelckmans

Post-slavery is an academic analytical concept that signifies the fragmented legacies and continuities of past slavery and slave trade in contemporary societies after its formal legal abolition, and beyond emancipation processes. Legacies can take the form of discourses based in collective memories and ideologies of past slavery, while continuities can take the shape of continued relations of social hierarchy and dependency between people of slave descent and the descendants of slaveholders and other people of free descent, to the disadvantage of the formerly enslaved and their descendants. The social mechanisms of exclusion that uphold post-slavery situations include the invisibility of such situations to outsiders; structural racism and other forms of stigmatization; struggles surrounding gender relations; the social importance of genealogy, marriage, and family formation across the historical free-unfree divide; uneven access to physical and social capital, such as land and positions of authority; and the politics of history and memory. Post-slavery legacies and continuities form points on a continuum, ranging from explicit forms of exploitation that could qualify as slavery outside the law (de facto, but not de jure slavery), via structural racism and other forms of structural exclusion in society (post-slavery continuities), to the residual histories and memories that can continue to mark differences between the descendants of slave and free today (post-slavery legacies).

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ʿAlī Eisami Gazirmabe  

Richard Anderson

ʿAlī Eisami Gazirmabe, later known as William Harding, was one of an estimated 99,752 “Liberated Africans” intercepted by the British Royal Navy from slave ships at sea and taken to the colony of Sierra Leone as part of Britain’s 19th-century campaign against the transatlantic slave trade. Eisami was born in the metropolitan district of Borno. He was enslaved c. 1812–1813 during the jihād waged by Hausa-Fulani jihadists against Borno. He was taken westward through the nascent Sokoto Caliphate and eventually to Oyo Ile, the capital of the Oyo Empire. For four or five years he was enslaved to a member of the Oyo aristocracy. In 1817, a Muslim uprising at Ilorin prompted his enslaver to sell Eisami to European slave traders on the coast. British naval forces captured Eisami’s slave vessel at sea, transporting him to the abolitionist colony of Sierra Leone. In Freetown, ʿAlī Eisami took up the name William Harding. In extensive interviews with the missionary linguist Sigismund Wilhelm Koelle from 1848 to 1852, he provided detailed accounts of his native Borno. This included stories, historical accounts, and poetry in his native Kanuri, as well as a substantial narrative of his enslavement. Harding’s linguistic work with Koelle represented an important step in the study of the Kanuri language, while his “Biographical Sketch,” as published by Koelle in 1854, has become a canonical account of enslavement in Africa. Eisami’s eyewitness accounts are important sources on the 19th-century jihād movement, experiences of enslavement in Africa and the transatlantic slave trade in its final half-century of existence, and the experience of being a Liberated African in Sierra Leone.

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Southern Sudanese Systems of Slavery  

Scopas Poggo

Prior to arrival of the Turco-Egyptian officials, Europeans, Egyptians, Syrians, Sudanese, and ivory and slave traders to the Southern Sudan, the Indigenous people of this region engaged in slave trade and had their own systems of slavery. The abundance of ivory in Southern Sudan, attracted a large number of Khartoum-based merchants into the South. As ivory depleted, these merchants shifted to trading African slaves throughout Southern Sudan and beyond. In 1805, Muhammad Ali became the ruler of Egypt, and in 1821, he sent military expeditions to the Sudan to colonize it. Because Ali came to power without any funds, ivory and slaves became the main source of revenue for his government, which led to the huge expansion of the slave trade throughout the Turkiyya. Due to the corruption, violence, and injustice that existed throughout the Turkiyya, the Mahdist Movement emerged in 1881 to destroy this alien government. In 1898, an Anglo-Egyptian military force invaded the Sudan with the primary aim of destroying the Mahdist State and abolishing the slave trade and slavery. However, in the mid-1980s, during the Second Civil War in the Sudan between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and Sudan Armed Forces (1983–2005), the slave trade in South Sudan resurged under the direction of the government of the national Islamic front and Northern Sudanese ethnic groups such as the Baqqara and Rizeiqat.

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The Portuguese Slave Trade  

Arlindo Caldeira

Between 1441 and 1444, Portuguese navigators exploring the west coast of Africa captured the first contingents of Africans on the Mauritanian coast and subsequently shipped them to Portugal. Most of them were Muslim Berbers, but there were also individuals among them from sub-Saharan Africa who had been brought to the Barbary Coast by way of the caravan routes. These first slave-raiding expeditions fueled a plan to divert one of the trans-Saharan routes to the coast, which the Portuguese successfully accomplished when trade relations with the Berbers became regular. They built a fortified outpost in the Bay of Arguin, in Mauritania, from where several thousand slaves were sent to Europe between 1448 and the early 16th century. In the meantime, the Portuguese had continued to advance down the coast of Africa and had established commercial relations with the local authorities and merchants in sub-Saharan Africa who were inclined to sell captives, as was the case of the Wolof people in the Senegambia region. The Portuguese monarchy secured monopoly over the slave trade along the African coast with the promulgation of the Papal Bulls (1452–1456). They gave the Portuguese crown authorization to raid and trade exclusively, unlike other European powers that did not enjoy the same privilege. One of King João II of Portugal’s (1481–1495) projects was to establish several trading posts along the African coast, following the example of the fort of Arguin, intended for the trade of slaves. However, this project proved unsuccessful, whereupon the archipelagos of Cabo Verde and São Tomé and Principe assumed a prominent role as entrepot in the trade between Africa and Europe. When the Spanish king authorized a direct connection between the markets of Africa and Central America from 1518 onward, the Cabo Verde and São Tomé islands became the main suppliers of captive labor for the New World throughout most of the 16th century. In the early 17th century, the already very vulnerable Portuguese monopoly collapsed, and the other European monarchies began to compete directly with the Portuguese in the transatlantic trade of human beings. Portuguese slave traders, who had previously preferred the ports between the Senegal River and the Bight of Biafra for captive acquisition during the 17th and 18th centuries, turned their attention to West Central Africa, mainly to what became known as Angola. A bilateral and direct route was established between the port of Luanda (and later, Benguela) and Brazil, to where approximately 10,000 enslaved people were sent every year. After the second half of the 18th century, East African markets also began to supply enslaved Africans to the transatlantic trade. Whereas in Northern Europe, abolitionist movements had been gaining momentum by the turn of the 19th century, both Portugal and Brazil (which became independent in 1822) resisted ending their involvement on the slave trade. Several laws were promulgated during the early 19th century; however, a total ban on the slave trade was only achieved after a series of laws enacted in Portugal between 1836 and 1842 and in Brazil in 1850. Until then, partial restrictions had little effect, resulting only in an intensification of the very lucrative clandestine slave trade.

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Red Sea Slave Trade  

Jonathan Miran

Together with the Trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean slave trades, the Red Sea slave trade is one of the arenas that comprise what is still referred to as the “Islamic,” “Oriental,” or “Arab” slave trades that involved the transfer of enslaved people from sub-Saharan Africa to different parts of the Muslim world. It arguably represents one of the oldest, most enduring, and complex multidirectional patterns of human flow. It animated a series of routes and networks that moved African enslaved people mainly to Arabia, the eastern Mediterranean, the Gulf, Iran, and India. The Red Sea and Gulf of Aden slave trade also constituted part of a broader commercial system that comprised, in varying degrees, the greater Nile Valley trade system through which enslaved people from the northeast African interior were moved via overland routes to Egypt and beyond. Unlike the Atlantic slave trade system, where slave cargoes were commonplace, enslaved people were most often shipped across the Red Sea on regular sailing boats carrying a variety of other commodities. At the peak of the trade during the nineteenth century, a large majority of enslaved people exported through the Red Sea were in their teens. The sex ratio heavily favored females. Enslaved individuals from northeast Africa were exploited in a host of occupations that varied from “luxury” slaves (eunuchs and concubines) to domestic servants to labor-intensive enterprises such as pearl divers, masons, laborers in ports, and workers on agricultural plantations. Others were employed in urban economies in transportation, artisanship, and trade. Estimates based on a notoriously weak evidentiary base (for most periods) put Red Sea slave exports for the entire period between 800 ce and around 1900 ce at a total of just under 2,500,000, though this figure may be higher or lower. The heyday of the Red Sea trade was in the 19th century with estimates of around 500,000 enslaved people exported during the period. The abolition and suppression of the slave trade proper in the Red Sea region took a century to accomplish. It is infamously known as one of the most enduring slave trades in the world and it was only in the mid-20th century, when slavery was legally abolished in Yemen and in Saudi Arabia (both in 1962), that illicit slave smuggling across the sea was choked off. But legal abolition has not ended various forms and practices of human trafficking, smuggling, forced labor, debt bondage, commercial sex trafficking, and in some cases enslavement. These persist in the third decade of the 21st century in most of the modern countries bordering the Red Sea and, as in the past, with a reach that extends far and wide, beyond the region proper.

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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.