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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Female slaves in the lower Niger Basin in the nineteenth century
Author:Fomin, E.S.D.
Periodical:Lagos Historical Review (ISSN 1596-5031)
Geographic term:Nigeria
Subjects:female slaves
gender division of labour
palm oil
External link:https://doi.org/10.4314/lhr.v11i1.4
Abstract:Women, especially those in bondage in the lower Niger in the nineteenth century, portrayed an interesting ramification of the all-pervading Atlantic slave trade. Female slavery in the region was quite palpable and underscores the ways African cultures of polygyny and the gender division of roles influenced the slavery institution in the continent. African polygynous slavers appeared to have been very reluctant to resell female slaves when they were acquired and, as a result, women were in the majority among the bondage population in many parts of Africa though not easily perceivable.This is because female slaves were usually integrated into families as wives or concubines. They were valued for their productive and reproductive capacities, which were both crucial in the creation of new wealth from the flourishing palm oil business in this basin during the nineteenth century. It is shown in this paper that while the traditional gender division of roles reserved palm oil production and commercialization in this region for women, it also prevented them from controlling the wealth that they created. The article concludes by stressing the fact that despite this unfavourable practice the plight of Niger basin female slaves appeared not to have been terribly irksome. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]