Arab Involvement In The African Slave Trade — Another Under-addressed Facet Of Black History – By Yvonne Sam

Arab Involvement In The African Slave Trade — Another Under-addressed Facet Of Black History

19th-century engraving, depicting an Arab slave-trading caravan transporting Black African slaves across the Sahara. Credit: 19th-century engraving, uploaded by DavidYork71 at en.wikipedia; Public Domain.

Arab Involvement In The African Slave Trade — Another Under-addressed Facet Of Black History

Yvonne Sam -- newThat Arab slavers were the first, and last, in modern times, to ship millions of Africans out of the continent as slaves? Most people still have the so-called Transatlantic [slave] trade by Europeans in mind; but, in reality, Arab-Muslim slavery was much greater.

Even in the face of years of Black History Months, currently there still remain Earth-occupants, many of whom know little-to-nothing about the expansive role, played by Arab and Muslim slavers in the African slave trade.           

Yes, there is more to be told yet, so slowly catch your collective breath. The Arab slave trade is an act, and above all, a fact of history, and anti-Black racism is a shameful thing that must be confronted in Arab societies. electronicintifada.net/content/palestinian-struggle-black-struggle/12530.

We should not allow slavery to be relegated to only the European slave trade. The real truth about slavery includes the long, extensive and deadly role, played by Arab and Muslim slavers.

Slavery is defined thus, by the British writer, Duncan Clarke, in his1998 book, Slaves and Slavery, “the reduction of fellow human beings to the legal status of chattels, allowing them to be bought and sold as goods”. www.amazon.com/Slaves-Slavery-Duncan-Clarke/dp/1840131675

Background to the Arab slave trade
Commencing more than 700 years before the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the Sub-Saharan Slave Trade, also known as the Arab Slave Trade, began in the late 7th century, after the Arabs successfully defeated and took over Egypt, and soon controlled North Africa, East Africa and parts of West Africa, such as Northern Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.

With full control of a great part of Africa, the Arabs captured young boys and girls and took them to Egypt, where they were sold into slavery, within Africa, or taken across the Indian Ocean to Indonesia, China, South West Asia and India. face2faceafrica.com/article/the-chilling-details-of-the-arab-slave-trade-in-africa-and-the-barbaric-castration-of-black-boys

The castration of male slaves soon became a habit among slave traders, due to the fact that castrated boys were in higher demand. They were noted to work faster and more efficient and stronger, and were not a threat to slave masters and owners, who feared that their wives, concubines and female slaves would have affairs with them. The castration process usually had the testicles of the young boys removed, however, in some extreme cases, the penis was cut off, altogether.

David Livingstone, the British missionary, explorer and traveler, was so upset by the way the Arabs treated their African slaves that, in1870, he wrote back home: “in less than I take to talk about it, theses unfortunate creatures – 84 of them — wended their way into the village, where we were. Some of them, the eldest, were women, from 20-22 years of age, and there were youths, from 18-19, but the large majority was made up of boys and girls, from seven years to 14 or 15 years of age”.

In the Arabian trade, the trudge across the Sahara, in leg and neck chains, and as Livingstone describes, necks in larg, forked sticks and hands tied with bark thongs, was particularly harsh on the African slaves. newafricanmagazine.com/16616/

No-one knows the true numbers of how many African women were enslaved by Arabs. Only estimates, some of which vary widely, exist, as to how many Africans were sold, from East to North Africa. This is also due to the fact that many of the slaves perished. Scientific research concludes that about three out of four slaves died, before they reached the market, where they were to be sold.

Unlike the European slave trade, the Arab slave trade was not an important feature of Arab economies, and it predominantly targeted women, who became members of harems, and whose children were full heirs to their fathers’ names, legacies and fortunes, without regard to their physical features.

The enslaved were not bought and sold as chattel, the way we understand the slave trade here, but were captured in warfare, or kidnapped, outright, and hauled across the Sahara.

Race was not a defining line and the enslaved were not locked into a single fate, but had the opportunity for upward mobility, through various means, including, of all ironies, bearing children or conversion to Islam. There are those who still contend that the Arab slave traders were themselves indistinguishable from those whom they enslaved, because the word “Arab” had cultural reference, not racial.

Nevertheless, while African scholars at the Maafa (Swahili for Holocaust) make significant differentiations between the Arab and the European slave trades, the enslavement of human beings is an atrocity of unfathomable proportions, by any standard, and that is exactly what it was in the Arab world – or is anywhere for that matter. africanholocaust.net/africanholocaust/

No-one knows the true numbers of how many African women were enslaved by Arabs. Only estimates, some of which vary widely, exist, as to how many Africans were sold, from East to North Africa. This is also due to the fact that many of the slaves perished.

Scientific research concludes that about three out of four slaves died, before they reached the market, where they were to be sold. The attributable causes were hunger, illness or exhaustion after long journeys. The Arabian slave trade was maintained, till well after the colonization of Africa. It was outlawed in Ethiopia, only in 1935, in order to gain international support against the Italian invasion. newafricanmagazine.com/16616/

Zanzibar, considered today, as one of East Africa’s best travel destinations: white, sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and hotels offer tourists, from all over the world, an unforgettable holiday. The dark past that obfuscated this sunny paradise, 200 years ago, has been long forgotten.

Shared History
Humanity has never known a holocaust of greater magnitude, savagery, or longevity, than that perpetrated against the peoples of Africa — one which has never been fully acknowledged, and certainly never atoned for.

In a world order that propagate notions of entire continents or regions as exclusive monoliths, it can be seen that a large proportion of Arabs share a part of African history, ranging from extensive trade and commerce, to the horrors of the Arab slave trade, to the current state of ignorance that does not know history and fail to connect the dots.

It is clear to see, from the shared history, that a large proportion of Arabs, including those who harbour anti-Black racism, are the descendants of African women, who were kidnapped from Eastern African nations as sex slaves, gave birth to them and lost their African identities. electronicintifada.net/people/susan-abulhawa

Notable Apology
On October 10, 2010, while addressing the 2nd Arab-African Summit in Sirte, the late Libyan leader, Muammar Gadaffi, apologized to Africans, on behalf of Arabs, for their enslavement and gruesome treatment, during the Arab slave trade. He was the first Arab leader to apologize.

His iron fist blighted his tenure, but when it came to revolution, to pan-Africanism, he was very resolute and unwavering. www.africanexponent.com/post/6905-gaddadi-apologized-for-the-arab-slave-trade.

He always stressed the need for Africa to be united and stave off Western imperialism at all costs.

The End of Slavery
Africa remains the most exploited continent in the history of humanity; more human victims have been acquired from Africa, than from all the other continents in the world, combined. The aftermath of this drain in human and mineral resources is one of the factors in the global condition of African people. Regardless of which way we look at it, slavery was a one way street — with Africans always the enslaved victims.

History tells of no African tribe that kidnapped Europeans and put them in bondage for generations; and, conversely, I know not of any African tribe that captured Arab women for centuries and made them sex slaves. The wounds or enduring legacies of transforming human beings into chattel, for centuries, is incomprehensible, and is a topic that should be told — it may be back history but, primarily, Black history.

Seemingly, it is preferable to blame the West, and concentrate on the European slave trade, rather than talk about the past crimes of Arab Muslims.

The lingering question still remains: why are students not taught or, at best, told about the long, extensive and deadly roles played by Arab and Muslim slave traders?

Aleuta, the struggle continues.

Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, Pride Magazine,  XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.

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Comments

  • kamtanblog  On February 29, 2020 at 3:25 am

    A very interesting take of mans behaviour towards mankind of past …best forgiven not forgotten….which sadly continues today with
    sweat shops and slave labour/wages worldwide. In developed societies today we have the other “extremes” where animals (domestic and wild) receive better “care” than
    humans. If I re-incarnate it will either be as a dog or cat …the Egyptians pharaohs treated their animals pets better than their slaves.
    In my hood here in UK see many folks taking
    Their dogs for walk…it is illegal for them to not
    collect dogs poo in public areas. However cats
    regularly poo in my garden legally !
    Sorry for straying from subject to make my point.
    Yes and thanks for your enlightening article.

    Kamtan
    Ps in Saudi Arabia slavery continues endorsed/practiced today by the wealthy oil barons.

  • brandli62  On February 29, 2020 at 10:42 am

    Ms. Sam highlights here a little-known aspect of slavery, the control of Trans-Saharan and East African slave trade by Arabs. Importantly, the Arab slave trade did not only involve the capture of blacks but also involved white slaves, frequently sailors captured by pirates off the Moroccan and Algerian coast.

    Regarding the following paragraph:

    Notable Apology
    On October 10, 2010, while addressing the 2nd Arab-African Summit in Sirte, the late Libyan leader, Muammar Gadaffi, apologized to Africans, on behalf of Arabs, for their enslavement and gruesome treatment, during the Arab slave trade. He was the first Arab leader to apologize.

    His iron fist blighted his tenure, but when it came to revolution, to pan-Africanism, he was very resolute and unwavering. http://www.africanexponent.com/post/6905-gaddadi-apologized-for-the-arab-slave-trade.

    He always stressed the need for Africa to be united and stave off Western imperialism at all costs.

    Despite Muammar Gaddafi’s idealistic and lofty statements, racism against black migrants in Libya has been a well-documented fact before and after his fall from power. There is rampant abuse psychological and physical abuse, including rape, of domestic workers and of arrested migrants in detention camps. The mistreatment of domestic workers with out any or little legal repercussions is seen throughout the Arab world. The local population sees domestic workers as second-class people with no rights, particularly if they happen to be non-muslim. By contrast. there is the rule of law in Western countries.

  • Pam Vernon  On February 29, 2020 at 8:21 pm

    Reblogged this on Earth's Bloodstains.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On February 29, 2020 at 11:55 pm

    Ms Sam’s article neglects the role Africans themselves played in enslaving other Africans. Here is African-American, Prof Henry Louis Gates, exposing this other hidden fact about African slavery.

    “While we are all familiar with the role played by the United States and the European colonial powers like Britain, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain, THERE IS VERY LITTLE DISCUSSION OF THE ROLE AFRICANS THEMSELVES PLAYED. AND THAT ROLE, IT TURNS OUT, WAS A CONSIDERABLE ONE, ESPECIALLY FOR THE SLAVE-TRADING KINGDOMS OF WESTERN AND CENTRAL AFRICA. These included the Akan of the kingdom of Asante in what is now Ghana, the Fon of Dahomey (now Benin), the Mbundu of Ndongo in modern Angola and the Kongo of today’s Congo, among several others.”

    “How did slaves make it to these coastal forts? The historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University estimate that 90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders. The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred.”

    “Advocates of reparations for the descendants of those slaves generally ignore this untidy problem of the significant role that Africans played in the trade, choosing to believe the romanticized version that our ancestors were all kidnapped unawares by evil white men, like Kunta Kinte was in “Roots.” The truth, however, is much more complex: slavery was a business, highly organized and lucrative for European buyers and African sellers alike.”

    Read the rest here.

    We need to be objective and fair when assigning blame for African slavery.
    VNM

    • kamtanblog  On March 1, 2020 at 3:23 am

      Today we have “commercialised slavery”
      where humans profit off their fellow humans.
      Disguised as “innovative job creation”
      Robots will work alongside humans to “speed up” production…legally ! Observe our car industries worldwide. Slavery is very alive
      today ! Tommorrow ?
      We are but fools in paradise !

      Que sera sera

      Kamtan
      Ps thanks for the enlightening articles.

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