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Article

George Michael La Rue

sultan of the Sudanese kingdom of Darfur from 1785 to 1801, was born to Sultan Ahmad Bukr and an unknown woman. The youngest of four sons of Ahmad Bukr who ruled Darfur, many thought him a weak choice. He became a very successful monarch, after overcoming internal opposition. During his reign Darfur’s system of sultanic estates (hakuras) flourished, and the sultanate became Egypt’s main supplier of trans-Saharan goods, including ivory, ostrich feathers, and slaves.

After a series of wars and intrigues involving internal factions, the rival Musabbaʾat dynasty in Kordofan, and Wadai, sultan Muhammad Tayrab ibn Ahmad Bukr made peace with Wadai to the west and successfully invaded Kordofan. This war took the Fur armies far from home (reputedly to the Nile), and the sultan was forced to turn back in 1786 By the time the army reached Bara the sultan was dying and the succession ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

king of Dahomey, was born sometime in the middle of the eighteenth century. His father was Agonglo, king of Dahomey from 1789 to 1797. Adandozan was the eldest son of Agonglo. Oral narratives collected later in the nineteenth century presented him as incompetent and mentally deranged, but it should be kept in mind that rival royal family members eventually ousted Adandozan from power and would have had a vested interest in deriding his achievements. Adandozan ascended to the throne of Dahomey in 1797, in a time marked by difficulties for the kingdom. The royal slave-trading monopoly ran aground on international difficulties, particularly the decision of the French government to abandon the slave trade from 1794 to 1802 and the British and US governments’ decision to abandon the slave trade in 1807 and 1808 respectively The British government began to send warships to stop other countries from purchasing ...

Article

Adhuu  

Trevor Hall

who was one of the first West Africans enslaved by the Portuguese in 1441, and transported by ship to Europe. He lived in Rio de Oro (modern-day Western Sahara). Information about his parents and marital status is not known; however, Adhuu was captured with a youth who may have been his relative. His reason for renown is that after he was enslaved in Portugal, he negotiated his freedom with Prince Henry the Navigator (1394–1460). Adhuu probably spoke Berber or Arabic, and communicated with Portuguese translators.

The Portuguese royal chronicler Gomes Eannes da Azurara witnessed Adhuu’s arrival in Portugal in 1441 Azurara said that Prince Henry had ordered Captain Antam Goncalves to sail from Portugal to West Africa and capture the first persons he found and transport them back to him Captain Goncalves sailed to Rio de Oro where he spotted human and camel tracks along the ...

Article

Born Nzinga Mbemba, Afonso I ascended the throne in 1506 after the death of his father, Nzinga a Nkuwu. Unlike his father, who had rejected Catholicism and limited contact with the Portuguese explorers, Afonso had been baptized as a Christian when the Kongo court converted in 1491. During his time as governor of Kongo's Nsundi province, Afonso entertained Portuguese priests and gained a reputation for Christian piety. When his father died, around 1590, Afonso returned to Mbanza Kongo, the capital, to seek the throne. His half brother, Mpanzu Kitima, raised a provincial army to remove Afonso from the capital. Afonso characterized the struggle as being between Christian and anti-Christian forces and later maintained that the Christians had won through the intervention of Saint James.

From the beginning of his reign Afonso sought to Christianize Kongo creating a financial base a school system a parish organization and a naturalized ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

leader of the Kongo kingdom, was born in the mid-fourteenth century. His birth name was Mvemba a Nzinga and he was the child of King João I Nzinga Nkuwu of Kongo and Nzinga a Nlaza, one of the king’s wives. When the Portuguese ship captain Diogo Cão first arrived in 1483, Afonso was a high-ranking officer in the kingdom. He consented to be baptized by Catholic missionaries. When a royal court faction opposed to Christianity arose after João I’s baptism in 1491, Afonso developed his authority in his own province of Nsundi. He allowed two Portuguese priests, Goncalve Vas and Rodrigue Anes, to live in his court.

Not surprisingly Portuguese missionaries and officials gave Afonso support especially after his father renounced Christianity In Nsundi Afonso used his privileged access to European trade goods to gain access to valuable high grade copper located north of the Congo River and ...

Article

Akitoye  

Jeremy Rich

ologun (king) of the city of Lagos (in present-day Nigeria), was born early in the nineteenth century in the city that he would later rule. His father, Ologun Kuture, reigned over the port from roughly 1780 to around 1803. Akitoye’s elder brothers Adele and Osinlokun battled for power in the first two decades of the nineteenth century. Eventually Osinlokun won this struggle. Akitoye only entered the competition for the throne in the 1830s, after the death of Osinlokun and his son and successor Idewu. The latter had no children. When Idewu’s ambitious brother Kosoko tried to seize the crown, his numerous opponents in Lagos sought to find other candidates to prevent Kosoko from taking power. The aging Adele was named ologun but only lived two years Then various family leaders and chiefs selected Adele s son Oluwole to block Kosoko from becoming the king but he only lived ...

Article

Alloron  

Stephanie Beswick

Sudanese leader, was the first prominent Bari private merchant, slave trader, and opportunist insurgent warlord. He rose to power during the 1860s by exploiting poisonous dynastic rivalries between Nyigilo and Subek, the royal sons of Lagunu, the unchallenged Bari leader in 1840, and their respective noble offspring. The faction of Nyigilo had enjoyed the support of Catholic missionaries up to their departure in 1860, but thereafter allied with the northern slave traders who at that time were establishing fortified trading operations throughout southern Sudan. It was to become an era, for the first time in Bari history, during which commoner traders such as Alloron found it possible to acquire economic and political power. However, the upstart was often reminded of his humble origins by the epithet “man without rain,” implying that he lacked the arcane fructifying powers of royalty.

The arrival of Turks northern Sudanese and Europeans ...

Article

Awutiek  

Stephanie Beswick

chief of the Palyoupiny Malwal, created an early aristocratic Dinka state in the southern Sudan during the 1880s. Awutiek’s uncle and predecessor Duang Marial had gained power by collaborating with slave traders such as Zubayr and with officials of the Egyptian colonial government. These lessons were not lost on the young chief Awutiek, who quickly realized the importance of firearms and purchased large quantities from Fertit middlemen, northern Sudanese traders, and Azande. He also acquired arms from Mahdists fallen in battle. Awutiek built a standing army. He set his warriors to regular military drills and maintained a strong, well-trained force. By 1892 having annihilating the last Mahdist force to venture into his territory Awutiek extended his influence down the Chell and Loll Rivers as far as the Rek country in the eastern Bahr el Ghazal By the height of his power Awutiek controlled most of the diverse peoples living ...

Article

Richard A. Bradshaw

a Bandia paramount chief (or “sultan”) of the Nzakara kingdom, a precolonial polity spanning the Mbali River in the southeastern region of what is now the Central African Republic. Named Kpangba at birth, he adopted the name Bangassou (“blazing sun”). According to Nzakara oral history, his father was Mbali/Bali (Mbari/Bari) “the gazelle,” son of Gwendi (or Boendi) “the taciturn,” son of Beringa “the drunkard,” son of Dunga “the quarrelsome,” son of Gobenge, son of Pobdi, son of Bwanda “the healer,” son of Agungu, son of Pongiet, son of Bongumu. These ancestors of Bangassou were members of the Bandia clan who left their Ngbandi homeland on the Ubangi River and conquered the Nzakara people.

The Bandia rulers participated in the growing slave trade of the nineteenth century and incorporated women and children into their polity thus prospering while nearby peoples in stateless societies were raided by slave traders The Nzakara often ...

Article

Aaron Myers

In the late seventeenth century, gold was discovered in the area that is now the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, triggering an inundation of gold prospectors from the surrounding provinces and Portugal. They brought large numbers of African slaves with them to extract the precious metal and began importing slaves from Africa’s Gold Coast (present-day Ghana and the surrounding countries), a region known for its advanced mining activities. By 1720 the city of Ouro Preto had become the center of gold mining in Minas Gerais. This was the destination of the African king Chico Rei and many members of his tribe.

Originally named Galanga, Chico Rei was the king of a small Congolese tribe of some 200 people in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Around 1740 he and his tribe were taken prisoner by Portuguese slave traders and sold into slavery in Minas ...

Article

Trevor Hall

and his elder son, Diego Columbus (1479?–1526), governor of Hispaniola during the first recorded revolt by enslaved Africans in the Americas, both had significant connections to Africa. The elder Columbus, known as Cristoforo Colombo in Italian and Cristóbal Colón in Spanish, remains a mysterious historic figure, even though, in the twentieth century alone, more than 250 scholarly articles and books were written on his origins (Sale, The Conquest of Paradise). Over a dozen birthdates have been claimed for him as well as at least twenty-five nationalities (Catz, p.83). Most biographers agree, though, that he was born in the Italian port of Genoa, the eldest son of Domenico Colombo, a wool worker and merchant, and Susanna Fontanarossa.

The sources also agree that, from about 1477 to 1485 Columbus and his brother Bartolemeu were mariners in Portugal involved in trade with West Africa Very little has been written ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

commercial and political leader, was born sometime in the late seventeenth century on the coast of southern Ghana. Little is known about Conny’s background. He became an extremely prosperous trader by acting as a middleman between European buyers with interior trade networks that provided slaves and gold. It is highly likely that Conny profited indirectly from the Asante kingdom’s bloody rise to power against its rivals, since these wars produced thousands of slaves sold to Europeans on the Ghanaian coast between roughly 1700 and 1750. Conny established his headquarters at Cape Three Points in the Ahanta region. One of his immediate neighbors was the Prussian fort of Gross Friedrichsburg, established by the kingdom of Prussia in 1682 as a trade center to purchase gold and slaves This small post faced both European rivals in the Dutch fort of Axim and the English post of Cape Coast According to a ...

Article

Cecily Jones

Queen of England and patron of slave‐trading ventures.

1.Genesis of the British slave trade

2.Africans in Elizabethan England

3.Scapegoating ‘Blackamoors’

4.Attempts to expel Blacks

Article

Glele  

Joseph C. E. Adande

king of Dahomey (r. 1858–1888), was born Badohou, the son of Gezo, the ninth king of Dahomey, and Zognindi, a free-born woman from Adakplamè. Some sources give the date of his death as 1888. Among the thirteen kings who ruled the kingdom of Danxome (Dahomey; present-day Benin) from 1625 to 1899, those of the nineteenth century, and Glele in particular, were the most famous.

The history of the kingdom of Dahomey is recorded in and by the Kpanlingan, which is both the official recorded poetic text and the person reciting it. Each king has his own kpanlingan Glele s is the longest In this text written down by Claude Savary for the first time only in the twentieth century we find numerous images emphasizing how powerful Glele was He is said to be Axosu kololo We dede kololo ma no mia the great king you cannot ...

Article

Bruce L. Mouser

trader, traditional medical practitioner, and political arbiter, was born on the coast of Guinea-Conakry. She is also known as Elizabeth, Beth, and Liza Heard. Her likely father was a British merchant attached to commercial firms maintaining factories at Bance Island in the Sierra Leone River or on the nearby Iles de Los. It was customary for African headmen to arrange a husband/wife relationship for resident foreign “strangers”—of which Heard’s father was likely one. Her mother’s name and relationship to local leaders are unknown. At a young age, Betsy was recognized as exceptionally intelligent, and she was sent to Liverpool, where she was boarded and educated, with the expectation that she would return to the Windward Coast as an agent for European commerce and Liverpool interests.

By the 1790s Heard had established a commercial footing at Bereira on the southern Guinea Conakry coast At that time Bereira was a border ...

Article

Kathleen Sheldon

ruler of the Itsekiri kingdom of Warri in the western Niger delta, an area in the center of trade in slaves, palm oil, rubber, and other items. Also called “Queen Dola,” she was the daughter of King Erejuwa and his wife Emaye. Emaye had two daughters with Erejuwa, Uwala and Idolorusan, who was known as “Iye.” After Erejuwa’s death, Emaye remarried his son (from a prior marriage) and successor, Akengbuwa, and had three more children, including her sons Omateye and Ejo. Omateye was the recognized heir, though he was in a rivalry with an older half-brother, Agbagba. Fearing that her brother might need a refuge, Iye and her sister Uwala founded the town of Batere. Difficulties arose following the death of Akengbuwa in 1848 as it was closely followed by the deaths of Omateye and Ejo in what some considered suspicious circumstances For three years there is no record ...

Article

Kapuufi  

Kathleen Smythe

was king of Nkansi (mwene in Kifipa) in the late nineteenth century (c. 1860 to c.1890), one of two Fipa kingdoms between Lakes Rukwa and Tanganyika ruled by the Twa dynasty. There are conflicting accounts of the Twa genealogy, but Kapuufi was probably the son of a previous Nkansi king. He had two children, Ndalu, a daughter, and Kilatu, a son, who eventually became mwene himself. Very little is known about Kapuufi’s personal life. Much of what we know is about his kingdom and comes from travelers like Edward Hore, Paul Reichard, and Joseph Thomson, all of whom noted that Nkansi was well governed, peaceful, and prosperous and that the people respected Kapuufi.

Nkansi was a centralized kingdom that was connected to villages under its jurisdiction by politico-religious ceremonies and exchanges of labor and goods. Below the king and queen mother were the leaders of districts or provinces, mwenekandawa ...

Article

Ryan Ronnenberg

king of the Shambaa kingdom in the Usambara Mountains of what is now northeastern Tanzania, succeeded his father, Kinyashi Muanga Ike, in approximately 1815 and ruled until his death in 1862. While Shambaa historical tradition credits his ancestor Mbegha as the founder of the Shambaa kingdom, and his grandfather Bughe and father for conquering and unifying much of the land in the Usambara Mountains he would come to govern, it was Kimweri who presided over the region’s “golden age,” when it was at the pinnacle of its power.

Kimweri inherited a kingdom that had been thwarted during his father s reign both in dispatching its rival Mshihwi to the far north and in expanding to the south Kimweri s success followed a peace agreement with Mshihwi which permitted him to concentrate his efforts to create a more firmly integrated Shambaa kingdom centered about its capital of Vugha and later ...

Article

James Giblin

also known as Muhina Kisabengo Kingo was prominent in the political and commercial life of eastern Tanzania during the middle decades of the nineteenth century The settlement that he established became an important market center of political power and home to several thousand residents In the twentieth century it grew into the major city of Morogoro Situated on the primary trade route between the Indian Ocean and eastern Africa s Great Lakes it was visited by numerous European travelers who wrote admiringly about its stone fortifications finely wrought wooden gates spaciousness and good order In this way Kisabengo came to the attention of a worldwide reading audience Kisabengo s successor was Kingo a son by his wife Kitukira Because Kingo was very young when his father died Morogoro was ruled in the 1870s by Simbamwene a formidable leader and daughter by another wife Makombera Kingo died shortly after assuming office ...

Article

Kpengla  

Jeremy Rich

king of Dahomey, was born sometime in the middle of the eighteenth century. European diplomatic and travel accounts contend Kpengla was a son of his predecessor as king of Tegbesu, while some oral traditions from Benin declare that he was a younger brother of Tegbesu. He engaged in a short battle for the throne after the elderly Tegbesu died in 1774.

Kpengla was popular with European slave traders stationed in the southern Beninese port city of Ouidah a vassal of Dahomey because the new king promised to restore the kingdom s economic and political might that had suffered some setbacks in the last years of Tegbesu s reign In particular he wished to ensure that only prisoners of war were sold for export and that Dahomey finally would break free of its subordination to its rival kingdom of Oyo to the east Kpengla made overtures to Dahomey s western ...