Notes for Canadians on the Actual History of African Slavery.

As always follow the links and do your own research, people believing whatever random folks tell them on the internet got us where we are, and “here” ain’t great.

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

George Orwell

The following are simply facts of history, they are facts that have been edited out of the popular narrative, but they remain facts. They tell a far more complex story than you are being presented with. Here is your first fact. No person held as a slave has ever entered the Nation State of Canada legally. Not one.

John Graves Simcoe, Lieutenant Governor of the colony, had been a supporter of abolition before coming to Upper Canada; as a British Member of Parliament, he had described slavery as an offence against Christianity.[2][3] By 1792 the slave population in Upper Canada was not large. However, when compared with the number of free settlers, the number was not insignificant. In York (the present-day city of Toronto) there were 15 African-Canadians living, while in Quebec some 1000 slaves could be found. Furthermore, by the time the Act Against Slavery would be ratified, the number of slaves residing in Upper Canada had been significantly increased by the arrival of Loyalists refugees from the south who brought with them servants and slaves.[4]


At the inaugural meeting of the Executive Council of Upper Canada in March 1793, Simcoe heard from a witness the story of Chloe Cooley, a female slave who had been violently removed from Canada for sale in the United States. Simcoe’s desire to abolish slavery in Upper Canada was resisted by members of the Legislative Assembly who owned slaves, and therefore the resulting act was a compromise.[2] The bulk of the text is due to John White, the Attorney General of the day. Of the 16 members of the assembly, at least six owned slaves.[5]

The law, titled An Act to Prevent the further Introduction of Slaves and to limit the Term of Contracts for Servitude within this Province, stated that while all slaves in the province would remain enslaved until death, no new slaves could be brought into Upper Canada, and children born to female slaves after passage of the act would be freed at the age of 25.[6]

This law made Upper Canada “the first British colony to abolish slavery”.[5][7] The Act remained in force until 1833 when the British Parliament‘s Slavery Abolition Act abolished slavery in most parts of the British Empire.

Chief Justice of Upper Canada William Osgoode followed up 10 years later

“In 1803, Chief Justice William Osgoode placed on the law books the ruling that slavery was inconsistent with British law. Although this did not legally abolish slavery, 300 slaves were set free in Lower Canada (the future Quebec). Citizens who wanted to bargain in the slave trade had no protection from the courts. The decline of slavery took place in Upper Canada as well. The short growing season and cost of feeding and clothing slaves, along with abolitionist sentiment stirred by Simcoe, caused more and more slaves to be set free. Future lieutenant governors of Upper Canada, like Sir Peregrine Maitland, continued the humanitarian spirit of Simcoe and offered Black veterans grants of land. The desire to stamp out slavery in Upper and Lower Canada was so strong that an application from Washington, D.C. to allow American slave owners to follow fugitive slaves into British Territory was flatly denied. Judges who favored abolition were handing down more and more decisions against slave owners; as a result, when the British Imperial Act of 1833 abolished slavery throughout the British Empire, very few slaves remained in Upper and Lower Canada.

The decades after 1833 saw an increase in abolitionist sympathizers as the fugitive enslaved increased in number and found freedom in Canada. Anti-Slavery Societies also increased. George Brown, founder of the “Globe and Mail” newspaper, and Oliver Mowat, a future premier of the province of Ontario, joined the Toronto Anti-Slavery Society. At the first large and enthusiastic meeting at City Hall, it was resolved that “Slavery is an outrage to the laws of humanity and its continued practice demands the best exertions for its extinction.” The Society further declared that they would raise money to house, feed, and clothe the destitute travelers. Weeks and months spent making their way to freedom took a toll on the bodies and minds of the enslaved. Many died along the way. Still, thirty thousand (a conservative estimate) reached Canada between 1800 and 1860 according to the Anti-Slavery Society. Often upon reaching freedom, former slaves would kneel down, kiss the ground, and thank the good Lord that they were free, and then they would build churches for their spiritual growth and development, as well as that of future generations.”

In 1834 the British Crown passed the Slavery Abolition Act which banned slavery and slave trading in all its colonies and forbade the trade on the open sea. Through its enforcement of this act at a time where it controlled a good potion of the world human slavery was all but abolished on the planet within 100 years, for the first time in human history. Europeans did not in any way start human or African slavery, they were the first in all of human history to end it. That is an inescapable fact

   By way of comparison in 1843 Somali Sultan Yusuf Mahamud Ibrahim (1798 – 1848), the third Sultan of the House of Gobroon ruled Somalia. He was victorious during the Bardheere Jihad, which ended with the Baardheere Jamaaca being destroyed and the city of Baardheere being burnt to the ground. Somalia during his entire reign was shipping hundreds of thousands of chained Jareer Bantu slaves all over the Muslim world leaving the Sultan counting his gold.

Toward the 18th and 19th centuries, the flow of Zanj (Bantu) slaves from East Africa increased with the rise of the Oman sultanate, which was based in Zanzibar. They came into direct trade conflict and competition with Portuguese and other Europeans along the Swahili coast.[3] The North African Barbary states carried on piracy against European shipping and enslaved thousands of European Christians. They earned revenues from the ransoms charged; in many cases in Britain, village churches and communities would raise money for such ransoms.

To a smaller degree, Arabs also enslaved Europeans. According to Robert Davis, between 1 million and 1.25 million Europeans were captured between the 16th and 19th centuries by Barbary corsairs, who were vassals of the Ottoman Empire, and sold as slaves.[11][12] These slaves were captured mainly from seaside villages from Italy, Spain, Portugal and also from more distant places like France or England, the Netherlands, Ireland and even Iceland. They were also taken from ships stopped by the pirates.[13] The effects of these attacks was devastating: France, England, and Spain each lost thousands of ships. Long stretches of the Spanish and Italian coasts were almost completely abandoned by their inhabitants, because of frequent pirate attacks. Pirateraids discouraged settlement along the coast until the 19th century.[14][15]

I will rely on mostly African scholars where possible for historical and cultural contextual telling of their story as much as possible. Much of this is heavily supressed in the west and has been for decades.

Nat Amarteifio; historian, and former mayor of Accra, Ghana’s capital on the origins of Slavery

“There is a willful amnesia about the roles that we played in the slave trade……….The system already existed,” Amarteifio said. “The Europeans saw it. And thought: ‘Ah, we can try these people in our lands in the New World…..

But Amarteifio says the Europeans weren’t going out and capturing Africans. They couldn’t — they got sick and died from illnesses like malaria. Some African ethnic groups went into business, warring with other groups so they could capture prisoners they sold as slaves to the Europeans. Amarteifio says they were organized and intentional about it.
“To pursue slavery successfully, you need a highly organized group because somebody has to go out there — somebody has to locate the victims; somebody has to lead an army there; somebody has to capture them, transport them to the selling centers; all the time, keeping an eye on them to make sure they don’t revolt,” he said. “And then sell them, and move on.”

Sandra E. Greene. Anbinder Professor of African History at Cornell University Speaking on the origins of African slavery.

“Very few Americans know that slavery was common throughout the world as well as in Africa”, says Sandra E. Greene.
Greene’s research focuses on the history of slavery in West Africa, especially Ghana, where warring political communities in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries enslaved their enemies, and the impact can still be felt today. “Slavery in

The United States ended in 1865,” says Greene, “but in West Africa it was not legally ended until 1875, and then it stretched on unofficially until almost World War I. Slavery continued because many people weren’t aware that it had ended, similar to what happened in Texas after the United States Civil War.”

Senegalese Anthropologist, Economist and Author; Tidiane N’Diaye spoke to Silja Fröhlich at Deutsche Welle,

“According to N’Diaye, slavery has existed in practically all civilizations. This was also the case in Africa before settlers came….In central East Africa, ethnic groups such as the Yao, Makua and Marava were fighting against each other and entire peoples within the continent traded with people they had captured through wars. Thus Arab Muslims encountered already existing structures, which facilitated the purchase of slaves for their purposes…

..Back then, Arab Muslims in North and East Africa sold captured Africans to the Middle East. There, they worked as field workers, teachers or harem guards, which is why the castration of male slaves was common practice. Muslims, on the other hand, including African Muslims, were not allowed to be enslaved, according to Islamic legal views. Initially, the Arab Muslims in Eastern and Central Europe took white slaves to sell them to Arabia, ….But the growing military power of Europe put an end to Islamic expansion and now that there was a shortage of slaves, Arab Muslims were looking massively to black Africa.”

The African Slave Trade to Asia and the Indian Ocean Islands,

In: African and Asian Studies

Author: Robert Collins,

01 Jan 2006 Volume 5: Issue 3

Speaking about the ancient origins of African slavery;


Chairman, Turkish Studies Unit, U. of K., 2000-(Founding) Vice-Chancellor, University of Sharjah, U.A.E, March 1997-February 1998.President (Vice-Chancellor), University of Khartoum, 1985–1990. President, Omdurman Islamic University, 1984–1985. Deputy Vice-Chancellor, U. of K., 1983–1984.Dean, Faculty of Arts, U. of K. 1975–1979.Director, Sudan Research Unit, U. of K., 1965–1072.Visiting Professor at the Universities of London, Qatar, Mecca, Riyadh, Tripoli, Cairo, Ahmadu Bello, Mousil, Bergen and Aden

Sudan Notes and Records

Vol. 58 (1977), pp. 85–106

Speaking to the origins of Islamic Slavery

Slavery and Slave Trades in the Indian Ocean and Arab Worlds: Global Connections and Disconnections…Straight, No Chaser: Slavery, Abolition,and the Modern Muslim Mind

Bernard K. Freamon, Professor of Law Emeritus on the Faculty of Law, Seton Hall Law.‐ocean/freamon.pdf

Speaking about the denial toward its history of slavery in the Islamic world.

Some general historical perspective on the Trans Saharan slave trade and the enslavement of Europeans. 8th and 9th century AD

“During the 8th and 9th centuries of the Fatimid Caliphate, most of the slaves were Europeans (called Saqaliba) captured along European coasts and during wars.[2] However, slaves were drawn from a wide variety of regions and included Mediterranean peoples, Persians, peoples from the Caucasus mountain regions (such as Georgia, Armenia and Circassia) and parts of Central Asia and Scandinavia, English, Dutch and Irish, Berbers from North Africa, and various other peoples of varied origins as well as those of African origins.
Toward the 18th and 19th centuries, the flow of Zanj (Bantu) slaves from East Africa increased with the rise of the Oman sultanate, which was based in Zanzibar. They came into direct trade conflict and competition with Portuguese and other Europeans along the Swahili coast.[3] The North African Barbary states carried on piracy against European shipping and enslaved thousands of European Christians. They earned revenues from the ransoms charged; in many cases in Britain, village churches and communities would raise money for such ransoms. The government did not ransom its citizens.”

Gwyn Campbell

The International Journal of African Historical Studies

Vol. 22, №1 (1989), pp. 1–26

Published by: Boston University African Studies Center

Speaking to the fact that the Islamic slave trade carried on without puase all during the period of the Atlantic slave trade and was in no way displaced by it. Here they are speaking about the early 19th century.

An article pointing to some of the implications of the Islamic slave trade on African women.

“in the Islamic Orient wealth was a reflection of prestige, young girls the vessel of male hub r is , the mats of male pleasure ground, the malleable material to be shaped to the master’s will.

Thus, women slaves in the Arab world were often turned into concubines living in harems, and rarely as wives, their children becoming free. A large number of male slaves and young boys were castrated and turned into eunuchs who kept watch over the harems. Castration was a particularly brutal operation with a survival rate of only 10%.”

“The combined effect of all these factors,” says Duncan Clarke, “was a steady demand for slaves throughout the Islamic world, which had cover story to be met from wars, raids or purchases along the borders with non-Islamic regions. Although some of these slaves came from Russia, the Balkans and central Asia, the continuing expansion of Islamic regimes in sub-Saharan Africa made black Africans, the major source.”

Modern Slavery

Africa is one of the few places on earth where slavery still persists. In fact African countries were some of the last to actually make the practice illegal. Muslims are once again trading Jareer slaves in open air markets in Tripoli, Libya

“The footage released by CNN appears to show youths from Niger and other sub-Saharan countries being sold to buyers for about $400 (£300) at undisclosed locations in Libya…..These modern slavery practices must end and the African Union will use all the tools at its disposal,” Mr Conde said.”..

“Thirteen anti-slavery campaigners were sentenced for up to 15 years in prison in Mauritania last week, for their role in a protest aimed at denouncing the practice of slavery in the country. The government tribunal found members of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) guilty of various counts, including attacks against the government, armed assembly and membership of an unrecognized organization.
Mauritania is the world’s last country to abolish slavery, and the country didn’t make slavery a crime until 2007. The practice reportedly affects up to 20% of the country’s 3.5 million population (pdf, p. 258), most of them from the Haratin ethnic group

For centuries, the black Haratins have been caught in a cycle of servitude enforced by the …..descendants of Arab Berbers.


There Are 46 Million Slaves in the World — Here’s Where They’re Found
A chilling reminder from the Global Slavery Index.

Somalia remains 6th on the Global Slavery Index

An index measuring strength of response against slavery.

William Ray

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