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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

Allan D. Austin

a military leader in Africa, a slave in Mississippi, was born into the rising Bari family of the Fulbe people in the fabled but real African city of Timbuktu. His name is sometimes written as Abdul Rahahman and Abder Rahman. The Fulbe people were prominent leaders in West African jihads from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries and, though enslaved, the most persistent adherents to Islam in the Americas. Abd al-Rahman's father and family had moved south to territory soon to be called Futa Jallon in the highlands of present-day Guinea after he and non-Muslim allies wrested power from their animist opposition between 1776 and 1778. Well into the twentieth century the military Bari-Soriya and religious Karamoko Alfiya families, usually peacefully, traded rule over their people and lands.

For about a century Futa Jallon was the strongest nation in the area. In its capital Timbo, Abd al-Rahman ...

Article

John Gilmore

The term can be applied either to the ending of slavery, or to the ending of the slave trade, but in British historical writing the former is more usually referred to as emancipation.

While there are earlier examples of individuals who had doubts about the legality or morality of both the slave trade and slavery, serious public questioning of these institutions only began in Britain in the third quarter of the 18th century, with the attention focused on legal cases such as those of Jonathan Strong and James Somerset (see Somerset case). The first group of people who collectively questioned the legitimacy of the slave trade were the Quakers, who formed a Committee on the Slave Trade in 1783 and were also prominent in the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade also referred to as the Society for the Abolition of the ...

Primary Source

Although the colony of Maryland imported indentured servants to work in the burgeoning tobacco industry the law initially allowed for a process of manumission as well as some basic legal rights for workers Moreover blacks were among several ethnic groups who worked as indentured servants In September 1664 however a session of Maryland s General Assembly passed a new law focused specifically on African Americans declaring that all black servants were to now be labeled as slaves on a permanent basis In addition freeborn women who married slaves would also serve their husband s master and their children would also become the master s property for the term of their lives a provision designed to prevent shameful interracial relationships The act demonstrates that slavery was not a practice inherited by the colony but was instead imposed well over a generation after Maryland was founded It would take until 1864 for ...

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

Jeffrey A. Fortin

The idea of Africa changed dramatically from antiquity to the era of European exploration and colonization; European and African views of each other continually transformed as a result of the evolving nature of their interaction. The Atlantic slave trade, perhaps the most significant event in the history of Africa, forever changed the manner in which Africans and Europeans intermingled. Perceptions of Africa were fluid, shifting according to geographic, economic, political, racial, and religious factors stemming from within as well as outside the continent. By 1830 the most broadly held notion of Africa had transformed from one of reverence, by the peoples of antiquity, to one of contempt and apprehension, by early modern Europeans. For Africans in the diaspora, the land of their ancestors' birth remained a symbol of guidance, hope, and spirituality.

Article

Carlos Franco Liberato and Martha I. Pallante

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with the African diaspora, from the origins of slave trade through nineteenth-century America. The first article focuses on the evolution and criticism of the diaspora, while the second article focuses on the cultural effects of this forced transatlantic migration.]

Article

John Herschel Barnhill

The African diaspora is the movement of people of African descent to other parts of the world; participants in the diaspora are diasporans. Struggle and resistance and the impulse to freedom inform the African diasporan memory, religion, and culture. The transatlantic African diaspora began in the fifteenth century. Earlier, Africans had moved individually and voluntarily to the Middle East, Europe, and Asia; their descendants merged with the dominant population, and only their DNA showed their African ancestry. The 1 to 11 million northern and eastern Africans taken by the Arab slave trade to Islamic countries in Asia and the Middle East intermarried, blended, and left only their DNA as physical evidence. The transatlantic slave trade relocated 10 to 12 million Africans, too many for the white populations of the Americas to absorb, particularly given the nature of the slavery and the assumptions underlying it.

Article

Any discussion of African ethnic groups in the Americas must begin with certain caveats concerning the nature of African “ethnic groups” in the areas of west, west central, and southeastern Africa, from which African diasporic populations in the Americas and the Caribbean originated. First, scholars and other observers have rightly pointed out the cultural similarities and shared histories of large groups of people whom they have termed ethnic groups. However, among African people themselves, before the age of European colonialism in the nineteenth century, such labels affiliating large groups of people held little everyday meaning. That is to say, an Igbo woman in a village in West Africa did not necessarily attach great importance—or any importance at all—to belonging within a larger Igbo collective of tens of thousands of people.

Second within all such ethnic groups there exist literally countless local and regional subgroups with various cultural and historical distinctions ...

Article

When enslaved black Africans were brought to the Americas and the Caribbean, their languages came into contact with European languages. At the same time, plantations brought together Africans from different ethnic and linguistic origins who did not share a common language. As a result, the plantations became multilingual settings in which the slaves were compelled by circumstances to resort to using the owners' languages as lingua francas and later as vernaculars, that is, languages used for day-to-day communication. The vast majority of African slaves brought to the New World were adults, and thus already fluent speakers of their local languages, which inevitably influenced the way they spoke European colonial languages.

The European languages used in the colonies were already different from their metropolitan ancestors as they were by products of communication among European colonists who spoke diverse dialects and languages They were further restructured when spoken by the Africans especially ...

Article

Filomena Sandalo and Luciana Storto

Although the issue remains inconclusive, Brazil's spoken Portuguese appears not to have evolved from or have been a full-fledged Africanized creole, such as those creoles spoken in many parts of the Caribbean. Nevertheless, Brazilian Portuguese was significantly influenced by the languages that the country's large slave population introduced.

Evaluating Brazil s three centuries of slavery might lead to the hypothesis that the varieties of Portuguese spoken in the country could have gone through a process of creolization in colonial times parallel to what has happened in many countries of the Caribbean The African presence in Brazil is the largest in the Americas 38 percent of all Africans who came in colonial times to the New World were brought to Brazil as opposed for example to the 4 5 percent who were brought to North America Slavery in Brazil also lasted longer than anywhere else in the New World the slave ...

Article

When Africa is regarded as part of the cultural and political history of the African diaspora, it is usually recognized only as an origin—as a past to the African American present, as a source of survival in the Americas, as the roots of African American branches and leaves, or, at the most dialectical, as a concept conjured up by New World blacks as a trope of racial unity.

Yet, in truth, the cultures of both Africa and the Americas have shaped each other through a live dialogue that continued beyond the end of the slave trade. In ways easily documented since the eighteenth century, travel by free Africans and African Americans (by which I mean people of African descent throughout the Americas) has continued to shape political identities and cultural practices in North and South America, the Caribbean, and Africa.

Since the eighteenth century enslaved or free black seamen have ...

Article

Afro-Colombians (Colombians of African descent) were invisible in the 1886 constitution that ruled Colombia for over 100 years. By 1990, after centuries of marginalization and discrimination, Afro-Colombian organizations emerged as a political force. They denounced implicit racial discrimination and demanded that the constitutional reform take ethnic identity into account without restricting their rights to equality. The black movement received support from representatives of indigenous groups and of the progressive left. Both groups had representatives in the Constitutional Assembly, formed in 1990 to rewrite the constitution.

Article

The African presence in the Caribbean was established during the first decade of the European explorations in the Americas. Nicholas Ovando, the Spanish governor, brought Negro slaves to Hispaniola in 1502, shipping them from Spain to this island where the first permanent Spanish settlement in the New World had been established. These Negro slaves who came to Hispaniola via Spain spoke Spanish and Arabic. That they were able to communicate in these two languages was more the rule than the exception, since the Moors had ruled Spain for six centuries, and Granada—the last of the Moorish strongholds—had fallen to the Spanish on January 2, 1492, a mere seven months before Columbus had set sail on his historic voyage In fact over those many centuries of enlightened Moorish rule the evolving Spanish and Portuguese cultures had constantly oscillated between Europe and Africa Therefore at the beginning of ...

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

Trevor Hall

Columbus’s voyage to the Americas and the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade from Spain to the Americas. Born near Valencia, Spain as Rodrigo de Borja, Alexander was a lawyer and administrator and a very wealthy man, who became a cardinal at the age of twenty-five. His father was Jofré Llançol and his mother Isabella de Borja, sister of Alfonso Borja, later Pope Callixtus III. Being born into the powerful Borja family gave Rodrigo Borja an uncle who was a pope and someone who guided his nephew to become Pope Alexander Vl. He acquired money and power as a result of his uncle being a pope. Alexander VI had a long relationship with Vannozza dei Cattanei, a Roman woman, who was the mother of his four children.

Alexander VI did not issue papal bulls that related directly to West Africans enslaved in Portugal Spain and Italy however his bulls influenced ...

Article

George Michael La Rue

preeminent trans-Saharan merchant and caravan leader (khabir) from the Sudanese kingdom of Darfur, was born in Kubayh, the son of Ibrahim ibn ʿAli, a Tirayfi merchant from Kordofan who immigrated to Darfur, and an unknown mother. He was commonly known as khabir ʿAli. In the nineteenth century Darfur was Egypt’s leading supplier of trans-Saharan goods including ivory, ostrich feathers, and slaves. In 1838, when Darfur’s sultan Muhammad Fadl died, young ʿAli ibn Ibrahim had already crossed the Sahara along the route from Kubayh (Darfur’s commercial capital) to Asyut in Upper Egypt, perhaps as part of a caravan led by his mentor, paternal uncle, and future father-in-law, Muhammad Kannun, or one of the lesser Tirayfi caravan leaders. ʿAli ibn Ibrahim allegedly heard the news of the sultan’s death from Muhammad ʿAli, the viceroy of Egypt.

ʿAli married six times and had numerous children His first marriage was probably ...