Islam, Arabs and Slavery part 2

Vollbild anzeigen


So as we already mentioned before it only makes perfectly sense  to cast light anywhere were there was Islamic Involvement. West Africa was a region that had a lot of Islamic influence.  The local slave  trade in west Africa was active. Especially in areas populated by particular nations such as Ashanti, Yoruba  imbanagala and Nyamwezi. All these nations engaged in a specific form of slavery. Most of slaves were captured during war and were sometimes sold to Slave dealers. John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University estimate that 90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders.

Henry Louis Gates, the Harvard Chair of African and African-American Studies, has stated that “without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred.

We don’t fully agree with this assertion, as we know about the resistance movements of The Muslim Kingdoms and empires opposing and combating Trans-Atlantic model. Suleyman Bal  and Abdel Kader Kane were among the Muslims that were fighting against slavery in 18th century. Nasir Dir al Din  Raheem ullah the Berber marabout leader was an inspiration for the two who studied in dahira (Quranic Schools) of Koki and Pir in Kayor.

In 1776 they established the independent theocracy of Futa Toro. Kane was elected as almami, and in July the vibrant movement in the islamic states of Bundu and Futa Toro were determine to put an end to the selling of their coreligionists  and subjugated the French slave convoys.  in 1788, Abdel Kader Kane in particular was determined to make sure he was determined to force the law. A French slave convoy was stopped by his men and ultimately freed 90 men. Furthermore  the persistence of the French in the region he wrote a letter that would strike terror in the hearts of the people. The letter was directed to the governor in Saint-Louis, dated March 1789.

“We are warning you that all those who will come to our land to trade in slaves will be killed or massacred if you do not send our children back. Would not somebody who was very hungry abstain from eating if he had to eat something cooked with his blood?  We absolutely do not want you to buy Muslims under any circumstances. I repeat that if your intention is to always buy Muslims you should stay home and not come to our country anymore. Because all those who will come can be assured that they will lose their life”

Another group of people were the Mossi who opposed the slave trade in the Sahel region. This however had a slight change when in the 1800s with the Atlantic slave trade and the Mossi Kingdom entered the slave market. Walter Rodney says in his Journal ” African Slavery and other Forms of Social Oppression on the Upper Guinea region.

I.A Akinjogbin narrates that before the European arrived the coast of west Africa that there was no major activity in slave trade industry. He notes that the demand for slavery increased dramatically with the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade. The few groups that controlled the coast were  Yoruba people and Aja people.

In East Africa or Horn Africa engaged in slavery. The Dynasties which included the region were the Islamic influenced Adan Sultanate and Christian Solomonic dynasty. As a slave you were more prescribed to domestic services in east Africa. Slaves had  the right to roam around freely and engage in business under the condition the requirements of the owner were met. The Freedom was so great that slaves even had the freedom of religion. The Dynasties of the Ethiopian Highlands dealt with Nilotic slaves that they captured through conquering and reconquering the lowland territories.

There was high concentration of Bantu and Oromo slaves In Somalia. The treatment  slaves in Somalia and the view on slaves was externally influenced.

Bantu slaves were regarded as inferior and were bought for undesirable work on plantation grounds. In any other society where slavery existed the relation between master and slave had sexual aspect. Whereas in the Somali society having sexual relation with their slave was frown upon and strongly discouraged. The Italian colonial presence worsened the situation.

The Italian regarded the Somali people racially superior. And that does make sense if we look at the scientific world in the 19th century. These were the odd few occasion where slavery was based upon the race or ethnicity  regarded as the decision factors to enslave people. Oromo in comparison were almost seen as equal when they intermarried or the slave master. Manumission was granted If Oromo female became pregnant.

Central Africa also had its own experience with slavery. However the slavery there was predominately based on the status of an individual. War captives as Early Portuguese explorer narrate during the reign Lukeni Lua reign over Mwene Kabunga.

Then of course we have the slavery society around the African Great lakes in South east africa. The African Great Lakes experienced the greatest influx of ethnic Arab slave traders. Slavery in this region was regarded as secondary commodity, merchant like Tippu Tip interest for ivory were far greater.  Tippu Tip was considered ethically Arabs but there was no much differences in their physical appearance to he slaves. Surprisingly before the 1800s we see the same trend again.

Slavery was taking place on a small scale, concentrated in one specific area.There were was no specific distinction between slave and master in the society. Post the Transatlantic slave trade the islands of Kilwa Kisiwani, Madagascar and Pemba involvement in the Slave trade exponentially grew. The peak of the slavery reached between the 18th and 19th century with efflux of 30,000 thousands slaves per year. The exporting records for the 19th century are 718,000 captives from the Swahili coast. Two major changes, transformed the slave trade in the region.Merchant from Oman and India start taking interest in the shores of southeast Africa. The plantation industry required labor, thus slave raiding increased the area.

The treaty of 1776 that stated that 1,000 slaves would be delivered to the french. The treaty was signed by king of Kilwa island. So again we can see the same trend. Everything becomes more intense towards 18th century more focus is on the slave trade. Tippu Tip (Raheem Ullah) is the best example of that change being active in Great lake before Henry Morton Stanley gives us a good understanding on how the Arab presence was in Africa at that time.

{Sign up for free Newsletters to receive emails for updates and publications}

Join Us on our Facebook Page for instant updates: Under this URL

For more Internchange Article:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s