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What were the experiences of those in Africa who suffered from the practice of slavery, those who found themselves captured and sold from person to person, those who died on the trails, those who were forced to live in fear? And what of those Africans who profited from the slave trade and slavery? What were their perspectives? How do we access any of these experiences and views? This volume explores diverse sources such as oral testimonies, possession rituals, Arabic language sources, European missionary, administrative and court records and African intellectual writings to discover what they can tell us about slavery and the slave trade in Africa. Also discussed are the methodologies that can be used to uncover the often hidden experiences of Africans embedded in these sources. This book will be invaluable for students and researchers interested in the history of slavery, the slave trade and post-slavery in Africa.
Literature on the history of Old Calabar describes the Blood Men as slaves who organized a revolt against their Efik masters that first occurred at the mid-nineteenth century. This chapter presents two passages from missionary texts, which offer intimate insights into the social life of Old Calabar. The first account is from the diary of Hugh Goldie. The second is from an entry in missionary Anderson's diary and a letter of missionary Goldie. A careful reading of their two accounts reveals that slaves operated in support of their deceased master's family when they felt it was necessary to find those responsible for his death, and that local politics played an important role as well. According to the missionaries, the Blood Men were not only fighting against being sacrificed but also to escape the oppression of the Ekpe association, which the Efik to this day consider their traditional form of government.
This chapter focuses on slave proverbs and has three goals. First, it seeks to validate proverbs as a source of data on slavery. Second, the chapter considers how slavery is memorialized across generations. Third, given that slave proverbs remain popular several decades after the legal abolition of slavery, it establishes the continued salience of slave origins and uses this to modify certain received ideas about the institution. The chapter provides an overview of slave-related conflicts in Yorubaland, and examines some slave proverbs and their (possible) origins, use, and meaning. Owe (proverb) is a Yoruba oral literal and figurative tradition whose full meaning is subject to translation and unpacking. Slavery in Yorubaland played an important role in Yoruba state formation and administration. Slaves functioned as administrators in the Oyo kingdom and were a powerful force in supervising provincial chiefs.
Bakoyo Suso belongs to one of three main social categories that Mandinka culture recognizes as part of its historical legacy: freeborn, professional endogamous groups and descendants of slaves. This chapter presents an extract from the narrative of Al Haji Bakoyo Suso. Bakoyo's family engaged in farming and trade while also offering their services as bards to the rural elite. Chiefs, traders, and cattle-owners retained the resources to promote the jali as artists and oral historians. Listening to a jaloo was a common and greatly appreciated form of entertainment. Bamba's historical repertory included the epic of Sunjata Keita and the oral traditions of the major pre-colonial polities along the River Gambia. Bakoyo explains where most of the River Gambia slaves hailed from, and describes both the ruthlessness of the rulers toward their subjects and the trading families' pride in having large slave entourages.