Enslavement: From the Caucasian Mountains to the Shores of Tripoli



The USS Chippewa battles pirates off the Barbary Coast, from http://slaveshiptrouvadore.org/antipiracy-antislavery-patrols/us-brig-chippewa/
It may slip by most listeners, but there's a reference to the same slave trade that supplied Ottoman slaves in the United States Marine's Hymn: 

"From the halls of Montezuma/To the shores of Tripoli"

The "Shores of Tripoli" refer to the Libyan coast, where the American Navy fought two wars with what historical documents refer to as the "Barbary Pirates".  The Barbary Pirates refer to corsairs from the regions we now know as Libya, Algeria, and Tunisia, though until the 1830s these regions were nominally under Ottoman control. Barbary is an archaic Anglicization of "Berber", though the corsairs were not necessarily Berbers. The Barbary Pirates were privateers, pirates who would raid coastal towns and unprotected ships for booty and slaves for the Ottoman market. The United States fought the Barbary Wars to stop repeated raids on American shipping routes, though slaving and pillaging raids would continue on a smaller level until France conquered Algeria in 1830. The practice of raiding unprotected ships for slaves was practiced worldwide - the 1812 war between the United States and Great Britain was in part to stop a similar practice known as "pressing", where British privateers would kidnap American sailors and force them into service.

Slavers working the Ottoman trade routes would bring in Western Europeans through Mediterranean sea passages; Balkan and Caucasian slaves were transported overland to Istanbul, though many were shipped out afterward. African slaves, many of whom were from non-Muslim regions in what is today South Sudan were transported overland through Sudan and Egypt or by sea on Indian Ocean passages. 



Notorious slave trader Tippu Tip, picture in Wikimedia Commons

Tippu Tip, pictured above, was a notorious slave trader who worked out of Zanzibar. Tip raided deep into Central Africa, establishing territorial strongholds as far south as modern-day Tanganyika. Tip recruited local Africans to assist his mostly Arab raiding forces in capturing slaves for export, a practice historian Melvin Page believes was typical of slave raiding at the time.

It is difficult to determine what happened to many of these slaves. Slaves who were bought by wealthy Ottoman households did possess a small measure of legal rights; it is through their exercise of these rights that we know some of their stories.Tragically, manumitted slaves who could not secure employment were often killed or captured and re-sold into slavery.  On this month's episode of Diwaniyya, Liat Kozma shares several stories of slaves, and what became of them during their time of enslavement and manumission. 



For more reading on Tippu Tip, you may enjoy: 

The Manyema Hordes of Tippu Tip: A Case Study in Social Stratification and the Slave Trade in Eastern Africa
Melvin E. Page
The International Journal of African Historical Studies , Vol. 7, No. 1 (1974), pp. 69-84

Toyotas of War

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