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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Madiki Lemon, the 'English Captain' at Ouidah, 1843-1852: an exploration in biography
Author:Law, RobinISNI
Periodical:History in Africa (ISSN 1558-2744)
Geographic term:Benin
Subjects:social history
historical sources
External link:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/history_in_africa/v037/37.1.law.pdf
Abstract:In the precolonial period, Ouidah, a coastal town in Dahomey (now Benin), was a major supplier of slaves and from the 1840s also of palm oil. Through a combination of oral traditions of one Ouidah family prominent in overseas commerce, and contemporary English accounts, mainly relating to the conduct of the export trade, the author traces the history of a member of this family, called Mark or Madiki Lemon. The Lemons claim to be descended from an Englishman who married a local woman from a leading indigenous family. They also claim to have held the hereditary 'guardianship' of the English fort in Ouidah. Madiki Lemon is said to have been the grandson or great-grandson of the original 'Corporal Lemon' of the English fort. Madiki accompanied British visitors as an interpreter. The first British observer to mention him, in 1843, was the Methodist missionary Thomas Birch Freeman. The last time Madiki Lemon was referred to in colonial journals was in 1852. The European accounts which form the principal sources for Madiki's biography are marked both by blatant cultural and racial prejudice, and by shallow understanding of the local policial and social context. Nevertheless, they can fruitfully be drawn upon to illuminate both the critical role which a person such as Madiki played in facilitating interactions between European visitors and the local African society, and the nature and basis of his status within the latter. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]