“Fascinating” pictures of African Kings whoms ancestors became rich and influential by selling their own people under Islamic law, can be viewed in the article further down the page. The Muslim slave trade was the most largest and the most brutal and widespread in human history. It comprised of slaves from all ethnic and religious backgrounds. It has lasted for nearly 1,500 years and continues to remain active even to this day in many Arab and African countries where a human slave can be purchased for as little as $10.
In Africa alone, after violent Arab invasions and mass slaughters that ended in forced conversions to Islam, slavery cost over 140 million African lives to the Arab slave trade export. Anywhere from 3-6 million Europeans are estimated to have been enslaved by Arabs, living under horrendous abuse and torture. Muslims today have the Khilafa movement and want a return of a global Caliphate, and the reinstatement of Islamic slavery (or slaughter) and taxation on non-muslims.
Slavery made the Arabs and their appointed African “kings” rich beyond compare. This massive wealth tempted other countries to follow suit, and centuries later, country after country began exporting slaves from Africa and other parts of the world. One of the world’s most wealthiest persons in the medieval times was King Mansa Musa of Mali, equivalent to Bill Gates of today, who amassed the main portion of his wealth from Muslim slavery in his country, fully endorsed under Islam.
The Islamic World was a main factor in slavery. After the Muslim conquests of North Africa and most of the Iberian peninsula, the Islamic world became a huge importer of Saqaliba (Slavic) slaves from central and eastern Europe. Islamic law forbade Muslims to enslave fellow Muslims or so-called People of the Book: Christians, Jews, Sabians and Magians, but an exception was made if they were captured in battle. And since the entire regions through the Middle East was conquered and the people converted by force, all its inhabitants were legally enslaved ‘in battle’.
If the victims converted to Islam, their master was expected to free them as an act of piety. However, Muslims rarely treated slaves in accordance with Islamic law as historic records around the world where Islamic slavery was prevalent, clearly show. The Muslim powers of Iberia both raided for slaves and purchased slaves from European merchants, often the Jewish Radhanites, one of the few groups that could easily move between the Christian and Islamic worlds. Jewish participation in the slave trade was recorded starting in the 5th century and was most likely an involvement of surrender to avoid being persecuted by Muslims, who have had a non-ending murder spree against the Jews. Prior to Muslim conquest and violence on people and their nations, slavery was not as prevalent as it later became under Islamic law and muslim trade and occupation.
Olivia Remie Constable wrote: “Muslim and Jewish merchants brought slaves into al-Andalus from eastern Europe and Christian Spain, and then re-exported them to other regions of the Islamic world.” This trade came to an end after the Christianisation of Slavic countries. The etymology of the word slave comes from this period, the word sklabos meaning Slav.
Medieval Spain and Portugal were the scene of almost constant warfare between Muslims. Periodic raiding expeditions were sent from Al-Andalus to ravage the Iberian Christian kingdoms, bringing back booty and slaves. In a raid against Lisbon, Portugal in 1189, for example, the Almohad caliph Yaqub al-Mansur took 3,000 female and child captives, while his governor of Córdoba, in a subsequent attack upon Silves, Portugal in 1191, took 3,000 Christian slaves.
From the 1440s into the 18th century hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians were sold into slavery to the Turks.
The Byzantine-Ottoman wars and the Ottoman wars in Europe brought large numbers of Christian slaves into the Islamic world too. After the battle of Lepanto approximately 12,000 Christian galley slaves were freed from the Ottoman fleet. The Knights of Malta fought against Muslim invasion and attacked pirates and Muslim shipping, and their base became a centre for slave trading, selling captured Muslim North Africans and Turks. Malta remained a slave market until well into the late 18th century. It required a thousand slaves to equip merely the galleys (ships) of the Order.
From the 16th to 19th century, Barbary Corsairs raided the coasts of Europe and attacked lone ships at sea. From 1609 to 1616, England lost 466 merchant ships to Barbary pirates. The Barbary Corsairs were pirates and privateers [a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime] who operated from North Africa, based primarily in the ports of Tunis, Tripoli and Algiers. 160 English ships were captured by Algerians between 1677 and 1680. Many of the captured sailors were made into slaves and held for ransom. The corsairs were no strangers to the South West of England where raids were known in a number of coastal communities.
Ireland, despite its northern position, was not immune from attacks by the corsairs. In June 1631 Murat Reis, with pirates from Algiers and armed troops of the Ottoman Empire, stormed ashore at the little harbor village of Baltimore, County Cork. They captured almost all the villagers and took them away to a life of slavery in North Africa. The prisoners were destined for a variety of fates—some lived out their days chained to the oars as galley slaves, while others would spend long years in the scented seclusion of the harem or within the walls of the sultan’s palace. Only two of them ever saw Ireland again.
More than 20,000 captives were said to be imprisoned in Algiers alone. The rich were often able to secure release through ransom, but the poor were condemned to slavery. Their masters would on occasion, but rarely, allow them to secure freedom by professing Islam [we can see today how this deception continues with foreign maids enslaved by their Saudi masters, converting to Islam yet continue to remain enslaved]. While the chief victims were the inhabitants of the coasts of Sicily, Naples and Spain, all traders of nations which did not pay tribute for immunity or force the Barbary States to leave them alone were liable to be taken at sea. Religious orders — the Redemptorists and Lazarists — worked for the redemption of captives, and large legacies were left for that purpose in many countries.
The most successful of the Christian states in dealing with the corsair threat was England. From the 1630s onwards England had signed peace treaties with the Barbary States on various occasions, but invariably breaches of these agreements led to renewed wars. A particular bone of contention was the tendency of foreign ships to pose as English to avoid attack.
One Third Of Population Was Enslaved By Muslims
French historian Fernand Braudel noted that slavery was endemic in Africa and part of the structure of everyday life. “Slavery came in different disguises in different societies: there were court slaves, slaves incorporated into princely armies, domestic and household slaves, slaves working on the land, in industry, as couriers and intermediaries, even as traders” (Braudel 1984 p. 435). The end of the slave trade and the decline of slavery was imposed upon Africa by outside powers.
In Senegambia, between 1300 and 1900, close to one-third of the population was enslaved by Muslims. In early Islamic states of the western Sudan, including Ghana (750–1076), Mali (1235–1645), Segou (1712–1861), and Songhai (1275–1591), about a third of the population were slaves. In Sierra Leone in the 19th century about half of the population consisted of slaves. In the 19th century at least half the population was enslaved among the Duala of the Cameroon, the Igbo and other peoples of the lower Niger, the Kongo, and the Kasanje kingdom and Chokwe of Angola. Among the Ashanti and Yoruba a third of the population consisted of slaves. The population of the Kanem was about a third-slave. It was perhaps 40% in Bornu (1396–1893). Between 1750 and 1900 from one- to two-thirds of the entire population of the Fulani jihad states consisted of slaves. The population of the Sokoto caliphate formed by Hausas in the northern Nigeria and Cameroon was half-slave in the 19th century. It is estimated that up to 90% of the population of Arab-Swahili Zanzibar was enslaved. Roughly half the population of Madagascar was enslaved.
David Livingstone wrote of the Muslim sub-Saharan African slave trades:
“To overdraw its evils is a simple impossibility…. We passed a slave woman shot or stabbed through the body and lying on the path. [Onlookers] said an Arab who passed early that morning had done it in anger at losing the price he had given for her, because she was unable to walk any longer. We passed a woman tied by the neck to a tree and dead…. We came upon a man dead from starvation…. The strangest disease I have seen in this country seems really to be broken heartedness, and it attacks free men who have been captured and made slaves.“
Livingstone estimated that 80,000 Africans died each year before ever reaching the slave markets of Zanzibar. Zanzibar was once East Africa’s main slave-trading port, and under Omani Arabs in the 19th century as many as 50,000 slaves were passing through the city each year.
Prior to the 16th century, the bulk of slaves exported from Africa were shipped from East Africa to the Arabian peninsula. Zanzibar became a leading port in this trade. Arab slave traders differed from European ones in that they would often conduct raiding expeditions themselves, sometimes penetrating deep into the continent. They also differed in that their market greatly preferred the purchase of female slaves over male ones.
Some African states played a role in the slave trade. They would sell their captives or prisoners of war. Selling captives or prisoners was common practice among Africans and Arabs during that era.
The prisoners and captives that were sold were usually from neighboring or enemy ethnic groups. These captive slaves were not considered as part of the ethnic group or ‘tribe’ and kings did not have a particular loyalty to them. At times, kings and chiefs would sell criminals into slavery so that they could no longer commit crimes in that area. Most other slaves were obtained from kidnappings, or through raids that occurred at gunpoint.
In the 1840s, African King Gezo of Dahomey said:
“The slave trade is the ruling principle of my people. It is the source and the glory of their wealth…the mother lulls the child to sleep with notes of triumph over an enemy reduced to slavery…“
In 1807, the UK Parliament passed the Bill that abolished the trading of slaves. The African King of Bonny (now in Nigeria) was horrified at the conclusion of the practice:
“We think this trade must go on. That is the verdict of our oracle and the priests. They say that your country, however great, can never stop a trade ordained by God [Allah] himself.“
Muslim Slavery In Africa Continues in 2013
The trading of children has been reported in modern Nigeria and Benin. In parts of Ghana, a family may be punished for an offense by having to turn over a virgin female to serve as a sex slave within the offended family. In this instance, the woman does not gain the title or status of “wife”. In parts of Ghana, Togo, and Benin, shrine slavery persists, despite being illegal in Ghana since 1998. In this system of ritual servitude, sometimes called trokosi (in Ghana) or voodoosi in Togo and Benin, young virgin girls are given as slaves to traditional shrines and are used sexually by the priests in addition to providing free labor for the shrine.
It is estimated that as many as 200,000 black south Sudanese children and women (mostly from the Dinka tribe sold by the Sudanese Arabs of the north) have been taken into slavery in Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War. In Mauritania it is estimated that up to 600,000 men, women and children, or 20% of the population, are currently enslaved, many of them used as bonded labor. Slavery in Mauritania was criminalized in August 2007.
Evidence emerged in the late 1990s of systematic slavery in cacao plantations in West Africa. In Saudi Arabia there has been advertisement for the sale of slaves purchased and imported from Africa. Last year a report from Uganda claims thousands of gay Kenyan men are being trafficked as sex slaves to Arabia. Many muslim leaders and even women politicians encourage slavery of women. A famous court case involving modern day slavery was Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz Bin Nasir who was jailed in 2010 for killing his African imported manslave Bandar Abdullah Abdulaziz in their five-star hotel suite in London.
The last kings of Africa: How Nigeria’s tribal monarchs still live in lavish royal splendour (even though they lost power 50 years ago)
Nigeria’s many traditional kings were formally stripped of their constitutional powers in 1963. But they continue to command great respect among their communities and wield considerable influence
Celebrated photographer George Osodi toured the country extensively to collect a unique set of portraits
By Daniel Miller
PUBLISHED: 21:06, 30 July 2013
With their brightly coloured robes, ornate thrones and legions of flunkeys attending every whim, they seem every bit the archetypal African kings.
Nigeria’s traditional Monarchs may have been stripped of their powers half a century ago, but they appear to have lost little of their regal pomp and splendour as this fascinating series of portraits shows.
Photographer George Osodi toured the west African country extensively for a series of photographs entitled ‘Kings of Nigeria’ which is due to be exhibited at London’s Bermondsey Project in October.
Posing on his ornate throne, Alhaji Dr Ado Abdullahi Bayero is the current ‘Emir of Kano’, a position he has held since 1963. A former ambassador to Senegal he is renowned for his abundant wealth, which has been amassed by investing in the stock market and agriculture
HRM Agbogidi Obi James Ikechukwu Anyasi II, The Obi of Idumuje Unor, was until his death earlier this year, the longest reigning African Monarch
Robes of office: HRM Agbogidi Obi James Ikechukwu Anyasi II, ‘The Obi of the Idumuje Unor kingdom’, was until his death earlier this year, the longest reigning African Monarch. He was crowned king on October 9, 1946 at the age of 22. His robe, depicting a young Queen Elizabeth, gives a clear nod to the period of British colonial rule
The Emir of Kano is attended by aides as he sits on the back of his vintage Rolls Royce on his way to the Central Mosque in Kano
Out for a ride: The Emir of Kano Alhaji Dr Ado Abdullahi Bayero is attended by aides as he sits on the back of his vintage Rolls Royce on his way to the Central Mosque in Kano
As a well-known and celebrated Nigerian photographer, Mr Osodi was granted rare access to the palaces and throne rooms of these hereditary rulers who now serve as living repositories of Nigeria’s enormous cultural heritage.
For more information about George Osodi’s exhibition click here to view Z Photographic’s website
Tyrant Kim’s mini-skirted robot army: The tightly-drilled ranks of female soldiers who serve on North Korea’s front line
He told Al-Jazeera: ‘There are frequent clashes among different ethnic groups… Lots of people have lost trust in their identity. I felt it was important that we see this diverse culture as a point of unity instead of seeing it as something that should divide us as a nation.
‘The easiest way I could approach this was to look at the monarchy structure in the country because they are closer to the people than the governors.’
George Osodi photographs the Kings of Nigeria
While their ancestors ruled over vast tracts of Africa, following the abolition of the monarchy in 1963 the regional monarchs were stripped of all their constitutional powers.
But far from fading into obscurity, they mostly remain popular leaders and are held in great regard by their hundreds of thousands of loyal subjects.
And despite lacking any formal powers they continue to wield considerable influence and serve as unofficial intermediaries between their subjects and the Nigerian government.
His Majesty, Wilson Ojakovo Oghoghovwe Oharisi III was made The Ovie of Ughelli in 1980 and has ruled over the great kingdom of Ughelli and Urhoboland for more than 33 years
Alayeluwa Oba Okunade Sijuwade, the current ‘Ooni of Ife’, relaxes in his throne room. Born in 1930, he has enjoyed a colourful life first working for his father’s business, then with the Nigerian Tribune newspaper, before attending Northampton College in the United Kingdom where he studied business management. In 1963 he became Sales Director of the state-owned National Motor company in the Nigerian capital Lagos. He later formed a company to distribute Soviet-built vehicles and equipment in Nigeria.
His Royal Majesty Oba Oyetunji Jimoh Olanipekun Larooyell, the ‘Ataoja of Osogbo’ in southwest Nigeria. He worked as a teacher for many years, firstly at a baptist day school. He was crowned king in 1976 and rules over some 300,000 subjects. He has studied management in London and is a qualified chartered accountant
Born to rule: Sitting on his golden throne, Benjamin Ikenchuku Keagborekuzi I is the current ‘Dein of Agbor’. Just two years and four months after his birth in July 1977 he was crowned king following the the unexpected death of his father. It meant he was the youngest king anywhere in the world. He is currently the Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, one of Nigeria’s most prestigious universities
Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I (left) was crowned ‘Oba of Benin Kingdom’ in the Edo state of Nigeria in 1979. Before that he studied at Cambridge university before being appointed to many top government posts.
Alhaji Abdulmumini Kabir Usman (Right) is the current and 50th ‘Emir of Kasina’. He was coronated in 2008 five days after the death of his father, Emir Muhammad Kabir Usman. He is remembered as a peacemaker during the Nigerian civil war and has a passion for Polo.
His Majesty, Deinmowuru Donokoromo III, The ‘Pere of Isaba’, poses with his royal sceptre outside his palace. He has ruled over the Kingdom of Isaba in the oil rich South-West area of Delta state since 1983.
Nigerian Monarchs will be exhibited at The Bermondsey Project, London SE1, between October 10 and October 27.