4 Rare Slave trade photos from 1868

Via Marians Blog - If anyone has information on the original source and the background to the photos please leave a comment.

The four photographs below were taken in >1868 of African aboard a Dutch ship HMS Daphne, intercepted and taken from Arab slaving dhow in the Indian Ocean; source not yet known

The Arab slave trade in African began around 7thC AD and continued for some 100 years after the Trans Atlantic slave trade had officially ended. it contineThe trade was mainly in North and East Africa. The numbers are difficult to assess but are estimated at about 11 million and slavery continues today across Africa and Asia mostly in children..

These photographs dated 1868 reveals a very little of the terrible suffering caused to millions of people by the slave trade. This group of severely emaciated boys and young men on the lower deck of a Royal Naval ship apparently have been taken from what was a slave vessel trading illegally off the African coast headed to the Americas. The captain of the Royal Naval ship had instructions not to return the rescued slaves to the place on the coast where they had been put on the slave ship (presumably because they were in danger of being recaptured by traders) but it is not clear from the available documentation what happened to them afterwards.

The Indian Ocean Slave trade evolved around the Indian Ocean basin. Slaves were taken from mainland East Africa and sold in markets in the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf. In contrast to the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the

Indian Ocean Slave Trade was much older dating back from at least the second century C.E. until the early twentieth century. For example, the oldest written document from the East Africa Coast, the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, describes a small trade in slaves around the second century C.E. Note physical features of the Arabs.



Indian Ocean: East African slaves taken aboard the Dutch HMS
Daphne from a Arab dhow, 1 November 1868.



For more on the Arab slave trade:
“Slavery in the Arab World” by Gordon Murray and “Africa in History” by Basil Davidson
African American Migration Experience an excellent resource on the TransAtlantic Slave Trade

29 thoughts on “4 Rare Slave trade photos from 1868”

  1. What do I feel when I look at these pictures – Anger, hate, and that question some of us ask – Where was God when all this was happening?

  2. pictures really do speak more than words. I have no words right now for the sadness i feel. I was about to say that we should never forget…and to think this is still happening in Chad. :(

  3. Has anyone had any dreams about slavery? Did you have a nightmare where you saw slaves or experienced being in a boat? Pls contact me. “Nightmare of the slaves” where he woke up in sweat, crying and shaking uncontrollably are the 1st few words of a new book I am researching. It will probably be published free via the web.

  4. Arab slaving of Africans has not ended. It continues in Sudan, Mauritania, Morocco and perhaps other places as well. Part of me entertains a certain schadenfreude about Israel ignoring the entreaties to stop its brutal invasion of Lebanon. I do not recall a single authoritative Arab voice calling for an end to the brutalities in Sudan and the world does not care about 1/2 million Africans dying in Sudan. Why is Kofi calling on us to care more for the Arabs?

  5. You are right that Arab slavery of Africans has not ended — African slavery of Africans has not ended either. You are also right that no Arab government has acted on the genocide of the people of Darfur. How many African leaders have condemned the Sudanese? The AU certainly hasn’t. Mbeki of South Africa and Obasanjo of Nigeria certainly haven’t and I cannot recall any other African leader either making a condemnation. On the other hand there have been sections of the Arab news media and the Arab blogosphere have condemned the actions of the Sudanese government as well as the failure of their own governments to act.

    However I do not see what this has to do with Israel’s attack on Lebanon – or are you saying that the people of Lebanon deserve this disgusting destruction because they are an Arab nation? This is not about Arabs v Africans — it is about human beings, people, ordinary people like you and I.

    Kofi Annan is not asking anyone to “care more for the Arabs” he is calling for an end to the wanton destruction unleashed by Israel on innocent civilians. Anyway Kofi Annan is weak and ineffectual and whatever he says is pretty meaningless.

    Israel’s action has to be condemned. This does not suddenly mean Darfur is any the less urgent, important or forgotten or that we do not know who the perpetrators of genocide are and who are supporting them.

  6. Israel’s destruction of Lebanon is not justifiable by the purported trigger. It was certainly premeditated, and a planned invasion looking for a pretext. There are historical parallels to this kind of instant war, but I shall not make them now. It might also be a ruse by Israel to push the US into military conflict with Syria and Iran. Eight years ago, I could have said aint gonna happen. I won’t bet a cent on that position today.

    Yes, African presidents are stupid, being mealy mouthed about age old Arab imperial thrusts in Africa. Darfur is but a 21st century manifestation of a recurrent pattern in African-Arab history. If African presidents will not say it, some of us would have say it. About Kofi, I do not recall his opening his mouth during the Rwanda genocide. He should just shut up and serve his term.

    Regarding Darfur being forgotten. Of course it is being forgotten. This Israeli action in Lebanon has clearly taken it off the radar. I refuse to be distracted. I refuse to be the “noble and even-handed” universalist that you are projecting. >300,000 Darfurians have been killed and many more rendered homeless and it is ongoing. More are being killed and dieing everyday in Sudan than in Lebanon. I wish for peace in Lebanon and the middle east, but it will not get much of my energy and attention.

    And yes, Sokari, everything is connected. Everyone else connects the dots except Africans, who are too quick to forgive and forget. You put up the provocative photographs and what do you expect, that it should just be historical artifact, divorced from today?

  7. I completely agree that everything is connected and we need to recognise that and connect the dots. Nothing happens in isolation at least not in this now globalised world. I just cannot see how one wrong excludes another. I refuse to operate in that way exactly because I DO connect up the dots. The same powers that are destroying Lebanon are the ones that enable the genocide in Darfur to continue and turn a blind eye.

    Prior to Lebanon I cannot recall that the international community or governments were focused on Darfur anymore two weeks ago than they are today – Its is not Lebanon that has distracted them from Darfur – they are not and have never been interested or cared what happens there — if they were it would have ended years ago.

    I have already stated Kofi is a waste of space.

    It is because slavery is not an “historical artefact divorced from today” that I put the photos up in the first place — to provoke and to remind. I also make reference to slavery in the post on racism in France (il a tape) and elsewhere in this world. If you look under the category “slavery” you will note that I repeatedly make this point. What do I expect? I expect people to be reminded, to be angry, to be aware that racism and slavery exist today and to know that the same powers that enable Israel to bomb Lebanon with impunity are the same ones that enable Khartoum to commit genocide with impunity — that is connecting the dots.

    PS: You mentioned Rwanda in your comment. I forgot to mention that yesterday a Lebanese friend of mine told me how she was very moved after receiving a phone call from a young Rwandan man who told her he had lost 80% of his family in the genocide. He doesnt know my friend well and in fact had only met her once but remembered her. He took the time to phone her from another country just to stand in solidarity with her and her fellow citizens. We need to broaden our understanding on what is taking place in our world and make the connections and stand with our fellow human beings on all fronts – because the battle is on many fronts and comes in many guises. Stay blessed

  8. That very pain has passed down from parents. You can smell the stinch you can feel the grit and you know the pain through them. America wonders why we have so much anger, it still lives through those in the pictures.

  9. Slavery in Africa, particularily Horn Of Africa is well and active. It has different cannotation tittle in todays Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad. People raided African villages in early days to hunt down the weak humans that can be captured and sold. The captors came from neighboring tribes who gather these little children and sell them to Arabs. Abyssinian kings played major role in profitting from such unholly trades.
    Today’s Ethiopian regimes invade and take away the properties of those tribes, leaving them to crippling poverty the NEO-SLAVES. World has no idea these neo-slavery in Ethiopia.

    This is why I say Africans need to break free from each other based on tribal lines and regroup to form new nations that adopts respects for every tribes. The eras of gun totting tribes draining those unarmed peaceful tribes must replace by free and equal tribals.
    Africa still practices slavery in a very systematic form. West has been culprit in advancing the wills of neo-slavery in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya with or without knowing the deep seated heirarchy.


  10. These pictures do create an overwhelming knot in my gut. I can’t begin to imagine the horrendous tribulations these slaves endured. I can only ask, ” How many people were born without hearts,?” because one must have been heartless to perticipate in something so cruel and inhumane.

  11. The slavetrade is beyond human comprehension,at least on the infinite victims behalf.Neither its basis for transpiring nor the ideology that fueled its gruesome existance can assume a substantial position in not only any reasonably sane but ethicaly civil society.Because of it,whole continents were displaced & the mother of all civilisation Africa hamorraged a great deal & as a tocken of their appreciation theyve now christianed her “The dark continent”.Alluta Continua

  12. @Beauty

    I am an artist as well as a high school art teacher. I have always created art based on slavery from my southern roots. I am a contemporary quilter. However, I could never understand why I never had dreams, or any subconsious recall of being on s ship!

    I have traved to Africa numerous times hoping to rekindle a deep memory only to return to pejorative images of “aunt Jemima” in my art.

    What I did not realize was that all along I was collecting these off-white garments at the flea market and antique shops- tons and tons of of them.

    Once in graduate school, I began to do more serious research on my ancestors as slaves in the south. I discovered that South Carolina had a law prohibiting slaves from wearing any garments but Welsh White Plains.

    My work now reflects these images connected to slavery. I continue to try and make connections all the time.

    Beverly Y. Smith

    1. @Beverley – do you have any photos of your work online? Thats really interesting about you collecting the off white garments and the connection with slaves being forced to wear similar. Some sort of historic / collective memory at work???

  13. Revisited via another visit to my blog. “What I did not realize was that all along I was collecting these off-white garments at the flea market and antique shops- tons and tons of of them”, that is even more powerful than a dream. “Some sort of historic / collective memory at work???”. Those photos Any more unusual stuff anyone? Again, @Beverley, as per Sokari´s, any photos of your work would be great.
    .-= Beauty´s last blog ..Mrs Clinton, how will your visit benefit Nigeria? =-.

  14. how could you treat children-or adults-like that?!?!?!!! Purly un-Human!

  15. @Beauty

    I have not, but if someone did they are experiencing what their ancestors went through.(amazing) like the actress who played Kessie in roots she said that when they took her away from her mother and father while in the back of the wagon she was crying wanting not to leave after shooting that scene her whole body was covered in bruises that were unexplainable and she had to leave the set for 3 days to recover from that. WOW!! I feel a sadness of what my people had to endure.

  16. It is still happening. Whenever you buy a really cheap t-shirt or toy, you can bet that it is made with slave labour…..

  17. The photos are unbelievable sad. I am doing research for a book on Brazilian slavery. Again the Dutch were mentioned with these pictures.
    In 1850 the trading in slaves was to be stopped. But it still continued with illegal caputures and landings on, for example Brazilian shores. When it became to difficult for the Dutch, they just took the Africans to the Arab countries.
    Brazil was the last country to abunden slavery, before that it was Holland (The Netherlands), number one traders in slaves. I wonder why we don’t teach our children more about our horrible past. The Dutch are always quick to point at someone else, but we are responsible too for the holocaust called slavery.
    It is even sadder that slavery is still going on.

  18. Have to say on historical records:
    slavetrade 1: Spain 2: Portugal 3: UK 4: The Netherlands 5: Northern America 6: Danmark.
    Let us all take our responsibilities in education and telling the terrible but necassary stories about slavery.

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