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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

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

Bahia  

Aaron Myers

Of all the states in Brazil, Bahia has maintained the strongest ties with Africa and African culture. During the first two centuries of the colonial era, Bahia absorbed most of the slaves imported to Brazil. At this time, the slaves came to constitute a majority of Bahia's population and exerted a proportional effect on the developing character of the state. Today, Bahia's traditions and customs are living testimony to the enormous influence of Africans and their descendants.

Article

The Dutch Reformed Church was the official church of the Netherlands and thus of its colonies, from Indonesia to South Africa to New Netherland in North America. A Calvinist Protestant faith, it shared much in common with Huguenots and Presbyterians in terms of ideas about, and policies toward, African Americans in America. A number of its members provided racist claims to justify the enslavement of Africans, but several ministers made notable efforts to convert Africans and spoke out boldly against slavery.

Dutch merchants began trading with Africa in the late sixteenth century. In 1596 one merchant was so bold as to bring a cargo of 130 Africans to the port city of Middelburg, Netherlands, in the hope of selling them off as slaves. The mayor objected, and the provincial assembly freed the Africans. In 1713 sixty years before the English did the Dutch government declared slavery in the Netherlands ...

Article

In 1685 it became illegal for Huguenots to practice their Protestant religion in France. Many left France to escape persecution. Thousands immigrated to Protestant countries elsewhere in Europe, especially England, and others went on to settle in America, where they gravitated toward South Carolina, New York, and Massachusetts. Once settled in America, Huguenots soon conformed to the prevailing economic and cultural norms. They maintained separate French Protestant churches for a time in certain places but, by the mid-eighteenth century, most Huguenots had become English speakers and joined English churches.

Since many Huguenots had lived in the port cities of western France that traded with the Americas they had wrestled with the question of slavery long before they settled in America Huguenot cities in France such as Nantes and La Rochelle had become centers of the French slave trade in which a number of Huguenot merchants participated Many Huguenots spoke out ...

Primary Source

Penned by Jonathan Edwards Jr. (1745–1801), Injustices and Impolicy of the Slave Trade and of the Slavery of Africans underscored the growing antislavery movement in the early days of the Republic. Like his famous father before him, Edwards was a Congregationalist minister in New Haven, Connecticut, and had no qualms with utilizing his pulpit to expose what he saw as the evil and corrupt aspects of society. This sermon, written as a response to the most common proslavery arguments, illuminates the failed promises of an American Revolution that sought freedom and justice for all men but found, however, an inconsistency that would plague the newly formed nation for years to come.

Even as the founding fathers called for throwing off the shackles of tyranny and oppression they were placing the chains of slavery on countless numbers of Africans The process by which slaves were trafficked throughout the world and to ...

Article

Jonathon L. Earle

prince of Buganda, and titular head of the Muslim community in Uganda, was born around 1835, a son of Kabaka Ssuuna Kalema Kansinge II (r. c. 1830–1857). Born Omulangira (prince) Ssimbwa Ssempebwa, Mbogo’s mother was Kubina, a member of the Fumbe (Civet Cat) clan. However, at an early age, Mbogo was entrusted to the care of Muganzirwazza, mother of Kabaka Walugembe Mukaabya Muteesa I (1838–1884, invested 1857). Muteesa and Mbogo were raised together under her care. Following Ssuuna’s death, Muganzirwazza had the overwhelming majority of the princes executed, a practice not unheard of by queen mothers in earlier Ganda history. Upon learning of the planned execution of Mbogo, the new king petitioned his mother, resulting in Mbogo’s release.

According to Emin Pasha s diary Islam first reached the courts of Buganda in the person of Sheikh Ahmed bin Ibrahim a Zanzibari trader whose family migrated from Oman during ...

Article

John Gilmore

Clergyman of the Church of England who led what he later considered to be a reprobate youth and worked in the slave trade. It was while on a slaving voyage (1748–9) that he experienced a religious conversion. Nevertheless, he continued to work in the slave trade, and made three more voyages before retiring from the sea in 1754. He became widely known as an evangelical Christian, and was eventually ordained as a clergyman of the Church of England in 1764, serving first in the parish of Olney in Buckinghamshire, and later, from 1780 until his death, at St Mary Woolnoth in London.

At Olney, Newton became a close friend of the poet William Cowper, and together they wrote the collection known as the Olney Hymns. Newton's own contributions include the words to some of the best known hymns in the English language ...

Article

Jon F. Sensbach

Protestant missionary of mixed African and European parentage, was born in or near the Danish slave-trading fort of Christiansborg (present-day Accra, Ghana) on the Gold Coast. Little is known about his father, a Danish soldier stationed at the fort. His Ga mother was the daughter of Ofori, the king of Anecho, or Little Popo, a Ga kingdom some one hundred miles east on the Bight of Benin. Protten’s early upbringing reflected his bicultural heritage. Even as he grew up speaking Ga and Fante, two important languages widely used in commercial transactions along the coast, he attended a school for mixed-race children at Christiansborg taught by Danish Lutheran minister Elias Svane, learning Danish and receiving instruction in Christianity. Such multilingualism was not uncommon for Gold Coast residents, both African and European. In 1727 Svane left Christiansborg for Denmark taking eleven year old Protten and another mixed race student Frederick Pedersen ...

Article

Edward Andrews

Anglican missionary and educator stationed at Cape Coast (in present-day Ghana) during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, is also referred to as Kweku or Quarco. He was the first African minister ordained in the Church of England. Born into a Fetu family in 1741, Quaque lived near Cape Coast Castle, at the very heart of British slave trade operations in West Africa. His letters to other missionaries throughout the Atlantic world, as well as his numerous reports about missionary activity around the Cape Coast, detail his extraordinary efforts to convert and educate Africans, as well as the many challenges he faced as a black preacher operating at the center of the transatlantic slave trade.

In some ways Quaque s missionary history began in New Jersey Thomas Thompson an Anglican missionary who abandoned his unsuccessful mission in New Jersey in order to try to attempt to spread the ...

Article

Jalane Schmidt

Along with the Yoruba-derived religion of Regla de Ocha or Lucumí (more commonly known as Santería), Palo is the second most popular African-derived religious system in Cuba. Unlike Santería, which has been studied much more extensively, Palo does not feature orisha worship, an alter, or characteristic colors, clothing, or stylized dances dedicated to particular spirits. Both religions feature drumming, music, possession trance, and animal sacrifice as well as systems of divination. Palo divination is ordinarily conducted with an npaca menzo, an ox horn mounted with a mirror on its blunt end, used in conjunction with white plates and candle wax, or with chamalongos, seven pieces of dried coconut shell that are thrown on the ground. (Multiples of seven hold an important place in Palo numerology.)

The word palo means “sticks,” or “branches of trees,” which adherents (known as paleros believe to hold magical powers ...

Article

Ana Paula Nadalini Mendes

Yoruba Muslim who purchased his freedom, also known by the name Abuncaré, was born in the state of Oyo in West Africa’s Bight of Benin Hinterland. His life and travels demonstrate the active exchange of culture, cuisine, and religion between Africa and Brazil during the suppression of the transatlantic slave trade and a cycle of revolts closely associated with African Muslims.

Rufino’s life story is strongly affected by the politics and religion surrounding Islamic rebellions both in Africa and in Brazil at the time. In 1822 Rufino was captured as a young man in West Africa and transported as a slave to Brazil as a result of the war between different groups of Muslims and the Yoruba people in Oyo. He landed in Bahia, where he served the apothecary João Gomes da Silva, helping him to prepare food and medicines. In 1830 da Silva and some of his slaves ...

Article

David Perfect

religious and political leader in the Gambia, was born in Gunjur in the kingdom of the Kombo. Sillah was a Fula who was originally known as Ibrahim Touray (or Ture); his family originated from the Futa Toro in what is now Northern Senegal; his father, Maley Burama Touray (who died when Sillah was about age twelve) was a Muslim cleric, while his mother, Mbesine Njai, was from Sine in Senegal. Sillah is sometimes called Fode Ibrahim Touray or Kombo Sillah (or slightly different versions of these).

Sillah’s early years were spent studying the Qurʾan in Gunjur and at Pakao in the Casamance in Senegal. He returned to Gunjur around 1850 to work as a Muslim teacher and proselyte, rising to become “amir” (caliph) of Kombo in 1864 which made him the commander of the Marabout forces fighting the traditional ruling class the Soninke When the fighting between the Marabouts ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Englishevangelist, co‐founder of Methodism, and celebrated preacher against slavery and the slave trade. Wesley was born in Epworth, Lincolnshire, and was an enduring challenger of slavery. He was inspired by the Philadelphia Quaker Anthony Benezet'sSome Historical Account of Guinea (1771), which also influenced abolitionists such as Thomas Clarkson and Granville Sharp. In consequence, Wesley produced a pamphlet entitled Thoughts Upon Slavery (1774 which dealt with the dynamics of the slave trade and the viciousness of slavery especially in terms of life on the plantations But even before Benezet and the publication of Wesley s pamphlet Wesley had opposed the slave system on moral human and religious grounds His sermons often evoked questions directed towards the slave traders The main issues raised involved matters of compassion sympathy and empathy for fellow human beings He was also an avid reader of slave accounts and ...

Article

Douglas H. Johnson

Sudanese slave who reversed the missionary process by becoming an African evangelist in England. Born Atobhil Macar Kathiec among the Gok Dinka of Sudan, he was captured by slavers, freed by the Egyptian army, and subsequently employed by the missionary Charles Wilson. Educated, baptized, and confirmed in England, Wilson joined abortive missions to the Congo and Tripoli in 1887–8 and 1893, but most of his missionary efforts were undertaken with the Methodists in England, where he become known as ‘the Black Evangelist of the North’. Settling in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, he married his landlady in 1913, an event filmed by the local cinema. He was a popular figure in the town, where he lived until his death.

Wilson produced three books about his life and the Dinka He wrote positively about Dinka religiosity and traced his own awareness of God to the beliefs and prayers of his people ...