1-20 of 77 Results

  • Keywords: slaves x
Clear all

Article

Atlantic Slavery and the Slave Trade: History and Historiography  

Daniel B. Domingues da Silva and Philip Misevich

Over the past six decades, the historiography of Atlantic slavery and the slave trade has shown remarkable growth and sophistication. Historians have marshalled a vast array of sources and offered rich and compelling explanations for these two great tragedies in human history. The survey of this vibrant scholarly tradition throws light on major theoretical and interpretive shifts over time and indicates potential new pathways for future research. While early scholarly efforts have assessed plantation slavery in particular on the antebellum United States South, new voices—those of Western women inspired by the feminist movement and non-Western men and women who began entering academia in larger numbers over the second half of the 20th century—revolutionized views of slavery across time and space. The introduction of new methodological approaches to the field, particularly through dialogue between scholars who engage in quantitative analysis and those who privilege social history sources that are more revealing of lived experiences, has conditioned the types of questions and arguments about slavery and the slave trade that the field has generated. Finally, digital approaches had a significant impact on the field, opening new possibilities to assess and share data from around the world and helping foster an increasingly global conversation about the causes, consequences, and integration of slave systems. No synthesis will ever cover all the details of these thriving subjects of study and, judging from the passionate debates that continue to unfold, interest in the history of slavery and the slave trade is unlikely to fade.

Article

Slavery in Luanda and Benguela  

Mariana P. Candido and Vanessa Oliveira

The institution of slavery existed in West Central Africa before the arrival of Europeans as a form of labor exploitation. While in local states political elites targeted outsiders and criminals as potential captives, slavery in the colonial settlements of Luanda and Benguela was similar to bondage in other Atlantic ports such as Rio de Janeiro, Havana, or Cartagena, and even in other colonial towns on the African coast including Cape Town and Lagos. Captives of war or people born into bondage performed most of the domestic and public labor. Their productive and reproductive capacities were appropriated for the benefit of their owners. Slaves could be bought and sold, were considered property, and did not enjoy rights, including to their own sexuality. Despite owners’ control, enslaved men and women resisted oppression and sought to ameliorate their condition and status through different strategies such as flight or paying for their own manumission. Slavery remained an important element of colonial societies in Luanda and Benguela until it was officially abolished in 1869, and new forms of compulsory labor were introduced.

Article

Slavery in Egypt under the Mamluks  

Adam Ali

The Muslim polity commonly referred to as the Mamluk Sultanate ruled Egypt and Syria during the late medieval period (1250–1517). Slaves played a big role at every level of society in Mamluk Egypt. A slave’s race, origins, and network (if he had one) determined the prospects of his life and career. Most slaves formed the lowest stratum in society as domestic servants and laborers. Such slaves could be Africans, Caucasians, Turks, Europeans, Greeks, Armenians, or Mongols. However, some slaves occupied the highest positions. These military slaves, the mamluks, dominated the army and the government and formed a military-political elite caste in Egyptian society. In fact, so-called military slaves played an important role in the history of the Muslim world for a millennium, starting from the 9th century. Even after the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517, the mamluks continued to exist as an elite socio-military class in Egypt.

Article

Hausa Diasporas and Slavery in Africa, the Atlantic, and the Muslim World  

Camille Lefebvre

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Hausa diasporas related to slavery were scattered broadly across continents and oceans. Individuals and groups who spoke Hausa, and therefore could define themselves or be considered Hausa, migrated and settled in different areas of the world in relation to slavery and slave trafficking. Hausas participated in the Atlantic, Islamic, and Ottoman slave trades both as slavers and as enslaved cargoes,some Hausas contributed to the management and organization of slave-trafficking operations and others were forced to migrate as slaves. Over the course of the 18th to the 20th century, Hausa diasporas related to slavery altered their trajectories and strategies in response to regional and global transformations, first because of the inclusion of hausa phone areas in the Atlantic slave traffic, secondly because of West African jihads, thirdly because of the gradual end of trans-Atlantic and trans-Saharan slave trafficking in the age of abolition, and at last because of European imperialism.

Article

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.

Article

Digital Approaches to the History of the Atlantic Slave Trade  

Daryle Williams

The robust, sustained interest in the history of the transatlantic slave trade has been a defining feature of the intersection of African studies and digital scholarship since the advent of humanities computing in the 1960s. The pioneering work of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, first made widely available in CD-ROM in 1999, is one of several major projects to use digital tools in the research and analysis of the Atlantic trade from the sixteenth through the mid-nineteenth century. Over the past two decades, computing technologies have also been applied to the exploration of African bondage outside the maritime Atlantic frame. In the 2010s, Slave Voyages (the online successor to the original Slave Trade Database compact disc) joined many other projects in and outside the academy that deploy digital tools in the reconstruction of the large-scale structural history of the trade as well as the microhistorical understandings of individual lives, the biography of notables, and family ancestry.

Article

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.

Article

Middle Passage  

Anita Rupprecht

The term “Middle Passage” invokes the unparalleled experience of dispossession, suffering, community, and resistance associated with the global and globalizing history of forced African transportation and racial enslavement between the 16th and 19th centuries. Over nearly four centuries, an estimated 12.5 million Africans endured this sea passage, and nearly two million Africans died. “Middle Passage” is freighted with multiple allusions, however, having been first popularized in the late 18th century by European abolitionists campaigning against the horrors of the slave trade and latterly appropriated as a powerful political and cultural symbol for the historical travails of African diasporic peoples. It still carries older Eurocentric meanings, even as Black Atlantic cultural memory and Africanist scholars have shifted its historical and cultural references.

Article

Muhammad ‘Ali of Egypt and Sudan  

George Michael La Rue

Muhammad ‘Ali ruled Egypt from 1805 to 1848. Long perceived as a reforming modernizer and founder of modern Egypt, historians have more recently reconsidered the impact of his economic and social policies on Egypt’s ordinary people. To determine his place in African history (and in the history of slavery and abolition) requires a broad reexamination of his policies and Egypt’s actions, and their consequences in Egypt, Sudan, within the Ottoman Empire, and in the 19th-century balance of power. After arriving in Egypt in 1801, Muhammad ‘Ali emerged from a complex political field as the Ottoman Pasha of Egypt by 1805. He overpowered the remnants of the old Mamluk regime, pushed them to Egypt’s southern boundaries, allied with key Egyptian elites, helped to suppress the Wahhabi revolt in the Hijaz for his Ottoman overlord, and strove to reduce the power of his Albanian troops. He reestablished trade (including the slave trade) with Sudan, and planned a new army of enslaved Sudanese. Between 1820 and 1835, Muhammad ‘Ali made a series of bold moves. The invasion of Sudan (1820–1821) and its occupation caused great political, social, and economic devastation there. Egypt toppled or threatened many Sudanese rulers, redirected Sudanese-Egyptian trade, and reshaped Sudan’s urban centers. The invaders attacked Sudanese and other African populations, conducted ongoing slave raids, enslaved thousands, and destroyed their homes. Egyptians and Sudanese found challenges and opportunities within these broader patterns. Enslaved Sudanese became soldiers in the nizam al-jadid, laborers in Muhammad ‘Ali’s new industries, diplomatic gifts, and taxable trade commodities. Newly formed elites bought African slaves for domestic tasks in Sudan and Egypt. Egypt’s new medical establishment treated Sudanese slave soldiers for guinea-worm, vaccinated incoming slaves for smallpox, and purchased Sudanese and Ethiopian women to train as hakimas—fully trained nurse-midwives. Initially, Muhammad ‘Ali sent his new army to fight in Greece on behalf of the Ottoman Empire. Later, his challenges to Ottoman supremacy drew the attention of European powers, who feared any disruption to the delicate balance of power. The demographic impact of the bubonic plague epidemic of 1834–1835 on Egypt’s black slave population was notable, and led to increased demand for replacement slaves. This drew attention from European observers and added an abolitionist dimension to diplomatic pressure on Muhammad ‘Ali. By 1841, he gained Ottoman recognition as hereditary ruler of Egypt and parts of Sudan, his army’s size was capped, and he made trade concessions to Europe. With his imperial ambitions now limited to Africa, Muhammad ‘Ali renewed his interest in controlling more of Sudan and adjacent regions, and deflected abolitionist criticism by blaming supplying regions for continuing to raid and trade in slaves.

Article

Aidoo, Ama Ata  

Anne Hugon

Ama Ata Aidoo is one of the most prominent African writers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Her works comprise plays, novels, short stories, poetry, and essays. She is recognized worldwide and has received many prizes and honorary distinctions. In Ghana, her country of origin, her books are part of the syllabus for secondary schools, and they are studied in many universities around the world. A number of late 20th and early 21st century women writers from the African continent acknowledge their debts toward her work and speak of her as their literary big sister, as did Nigerian author Buchi Emecheta, or mother, as does Ghanaian author Amma Darko. Like many other African authors, she is both a major writer and more than “just” a writer: she is also an activist, notably an acknowledged feminist, a dramatist, a teacher, and a craftswoman—this list is not exhaustive.

Article

Tippu Tip in the Late 19th-Century East and Central Africa  

Stuart Laing

Hamad bin Muhammad al-Murjabi, usually known by his nickname Tippu Tip, was an ivory and slave trader based in Zanzibar, who in the second half of the 19th century, built up wide influence and a strong trading empire in the “Arab Zone” west of Lake Tanganyika. He accompanied and assisted a number of European explorers in the region and was recruited by Leopold II, king of the Belgians, to be governor of Stanley Falls, supervising the area that became the eastern province of the Congo Free State. He was contracted by Stanley to supply men and guns for the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition but had a falling out with him when the expedition ran into difficulties. In his closing years, having accumulated wealth from his ivory trading, he lived in comfort in Zanzibar but had to watch from the sidelines in retirement, as the sultan was deprived of his mainland possessions by the British and the Germans, Zanzibar itself became a British protectorate, and the Arabs were ejected from their Zone by the acquisitive (Belgian) Congo Free State. Tippu Tip’s life covered a period witnessing huge changes in East and Central Africa, as well as touching on aspects of East African and Indian ocean trading (notably, the ivory, slave, and cloves trades), and of exploration and discovery.

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

Ransoming of Captives and Redemption of Slaves in sub-Saharan Africa  

Jennifer Lofkrantz

The ransoming of captives and the redemption of slaves in precolonial and early colonial sub-Saharan Africa refer to two distinct practices. The ransoming of captives refers to the practice of paying for the release of a captive at the time of capture or soon afterwards and where the freed captive usually returns to their own society with their social status intact. In contrast, the redemption of slaves refers to the practice of the purchasing of the freedom of an enslaved person who then usually remains in a subservient status in their owner’s society. The redemption of slaves has been a well-studied subject throughout sub-Saharan Africa as both a form of indigenous African and colonial manumission policies as well as part of the growing field of social abolition of slavery. The ransoming of captives in precolonial sub-Saharan Africa, unlike in North Africa, is a more recent area of research, with most research concentrated on West Africa. The existence of both ransoming and redemption practices demonstrate that people and their family and friends valued freedom and used a myriad of strategies to achieve and maintain it.

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

Sugar Plantation Slavery  

Klas Rönnbäck

Sugar and slavery became intimately connected in the Americas during the early modern era. Once the cultivation of sugar cane had been transplanted to the Americas in the early 16th century, Spanish and Portuguese planters turned to exploiting slaves as laborers on the plantations. The first slaves were taken from among Indigenous populations in the Americas. In the 17th century, English and French planters tried to recruit indentured servants from Europe. Both these sources of labor would, for several reasons, turn out to be insufficient to meet the great demand for laborers on the American sugar plantations. Planters throughout the Americas therefore came to import slaves from Africa, particularly following the so-called “sugar revolution” during the late 17th century. As sugar henceforth became the preferred crop of cultivation throughout most of the Caribbean and Brazil, it also became the main driver of the transatlantic slave trade. The particular demography of sugar planting—with a natural population decline as a consequence of hard labor, a brutal labor regime, and insufficient diet—did furthermore exacerbate the demand for slave imports even further. The cultivation of sugar, and all economic activities associated with the slave plantation complex, would be of great economic importance for investors, merchants and producers in Europe. The political decision to abolish the slave trade would therefore have large economic consequences both in the Americas, Africa, and Europe.

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

African Diasporas: History and Historiography  

Mohammed Bashir Salau

People of African descent who migrated from their “homelands” constituted, and still constitute, important forces in many African cultures outside of their “homelands” as well as in many other cultures outside of the African continent. Historically, the migration of people of African descent from their “homelands” is mainly linked to the pre-20th century Muslim or Asian trade and the Atlantic trade as well as to the post 1980 globalization of the capitalist system. Even before the post 1980 globalization of the capitalist system deepened the crises in African states and resulted in the migration of skilled and unskilled Africans to places like the United States, Canada, Britain and the Middle East, some scholars had written on people of African descent in several parts of the world. Although the earliest among those who wrote on the subject before the 1980s did not employ the term “African diaspora” in their analysis, an increasing number of scholars who wrote after 1950 have used the term in question in their study of people of African descent in various parts of the world. The relevant literature written after 1950 features disagreement over the meaning of the concept “African diaspora” and point to diverse methodologies that are useful in working on the subject. This particular literature can be divided into three broad categories: works that deal with the Old African diaspora, works that deal with the New African diaspora and works that deal with both the Old and New African diasporas. The historiography shows that works situated in all of these three categories mainly offer competing view over three fundamental questions: why did Africans leave their “homelands” and settle elsewhere? What was the impact of this process on the societies they left? How did Africans who left their “homelands” integrate into their host societies or preserve their unique identities; or, more broadly, what was the impact of their arrival on the host society they entered? Despite the rapid strides that have been made since the 1960s in regard to addressing these questions or in regards to the scholarly study of the African diasporas in general, there is still no firm definition of the term “African diaspora.” Moreover, there are still other gaps in the scholarly knowledge of the subject.

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.

Article

The Swahili in the African and Indian Ocean Worlds to c. 1500  

Abdul Sheriff

The East African coast is an interface between the continental world of Africa and the maritime world of the Indian Ocean, and the monsoons provided a convenient wind system to link them. It was inhabited by a littoral society that was best placed to play a leading role in economic, social, and cultural interaction, including intermarriage, between the two worlds. Its written history goes back at least to the beginning of the Contemporary Era, and it can be termed Swahili from the beginning of the second millennium when this branch of the Bantu languages spread down the coast to give it linguistic unity. Its speakers were organized in towns and villages from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique, which developed into city-states when there were major upturns in international trade and were integrated in the wider Indian Ocean world. The citizens spoke an “elegant” language that was further embellished through its interactions with Arabic and other Indian Ocean languages and literature. Islam spread with that trade, and mosques became a prominent part of the archaeological remains along the Swahili coast. In the process, the Swahili became thoroughly cosmopolitan. Any attempt to disentangle the different strands, “oriental” or “African”—which are two sides of the dense cultural fabric of the littoral people—is bound to be futile. They are two sides of the Swahili coin. This civilization was partially disrupted by the entry of the Portuguese in the 16th century when they tried to divert the spice trade to their channel around the Cape of Good Hope, but it revived during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Article

History of the Seychelles  

Richard B. Allen

The history of the Seychelles since the islands’ colonization in 1770 has been shaped by their physical geography, location in the western Indian Ocean, and peripheral status in the French and British colonial empires. The archipelago’s social, economic, and political history reflects its role in facilitating the slave trade that funneled hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans and Malagasies toward the Mascarene Islands of Mauritius and Réunion between 1770 and the early 1830s, the development of cotton and then coconut plantation agriculture, and its status as a Mauritian dependency until it became a separate British Crown Colony in 1903. Economic and political life after independence in 1976 included a coup d’état in 1977 that led to the establishment of a one-party socialist state in 1979, a return to multiparty democracy in 1993, and the country’s increasing economic dependence on tourism during the late 20th and early 21rst centuries.