Monday, April 1, 2013

Slavery in the Indian Ocean

 Slavery in the Indian Ocean was focused on two trades:
  • The Islamic
  • European-Colonial

Undertaken by or in the direction of the Islamic world (the trade run by Zanzibaris is a good example of this, in fact Tippu Tib the sultan was notorious for his thousands of slaves). Examples of Islamic or Muslim-majority countries with African descended populations would be Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Turkey.

The trade undertaken in the direction of the European colonies (Mauritius, Reunion, the Seychelles, South Africa) as well as, of course, to the Atlantic colonies.

Slaves heading to European colonies were eventually integrated culturally and spiritually(though music such as Sega in Mauritius, Reunion and the Seychelles was continued) into those societies and those heading towards Islamic societies converted and eventually adapted to those societies while keeping some traditions (Zaar spiritualist cult* is an example as well as music such as Fann at-Tanbura).

These two slave routes were differentiated historically:

  •  The Islamic Indian Ocean slave trade was conducted from the early 9th Century to the 20th Century (the Sultanate of Oman as a historical maritime society played a role in this being heavily connected to Zanzibar, Tippu Tib was half Arab). Saudi Arabia stopped slavery in the 1960s (Sudan is another that has continued but I am only referring to Indian Ocean societies).
  • The European trade was conducted from the 16th Century to the 19th Century during the colonial period being firstly stopped by the British (trade stopped in 1807 while slavery itself stopped in 1833) then by the French (1848).

Note: I refer to cult in the academic sense and not the demeaning, pejorative sense, i.e a cult is a practice or group of practices relating to a specific theme/object of devotion, the cult of the dead, the cult of the Virgin Mary)

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