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Toko  

Jeremy Rich

Very little is available about his early life Some traditions collected by researchers in the twentieth century suggest Toko was a slave or of partial slave descent Whether he was born on the coast of the Gabon Estuary or came from another part of the country Toko managed to become a prominent trader by the early 1840s He belonged to the Agakaza clan of the Mpongwe community that dominated trade on the northern bank of the Gabon Estuary Within Mpongwe society many people of partial or full slave descent could own slaves themselves and act relatively independently of their masters Toko s success in business made him one of the wealthiest Mpongwe men in the entire community Mpongwe merchants held a monopoly on direct access to visiting European Brazilian Cuban and São Tomean ships seeking slaves exotic woods ivory and other natural resources Toko lived near the village of Glass ...