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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Slave Ransoming in German East Africa, 1885-1922
Author:Sunseri, ThaddeusISNI
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic terms:German East Africa
abolition of slavery
History and Exploration
Economics and Trade
Labor and Employment
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/220476
Abstract:Slave ransoming was the basis of German abolition policy after 1900, and reflected the colonial State's need for African labour during the building stages of the colonial economy. German policy allowed slaves who wished to end their bondage to be bought free or ransomed by third parties, especially German planters, who then had access to the slave's labour until the ransom debt was worked off. Thus ransoming gave slave men and women the choice of whether or not to sever their relations of bondage. This article focuses on men and women slaves of Mafia Island, who were largely recently captured and first-generation slaves. Special attention is given to women slaves and the factors that shaped their attitudes towards their master's hegemony, on the one hand, and the autonomy that was made possible by ransoming, on the other. During and after World War I most remaining slaves on Mafia deserted their masters and German plantation regimes and sought a peasant existence. An examination of ransoming on Mafia shows that slaves did not act solely as social dependents of their masters. Nor were they easily manipulated by German social engineers to become an obedient labour force. The desire for freedom of newcomer and first-generation slaves on Mafia contrasts with the aspirations of slaves born into captivity, who sought material and cultural inclusion in Swahili society. Notes, ref.