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Aug 23, 2023 - From Africa to America, Slavery in Africa    Comments Off on The Efik Chief’s Slave Raids

The Efik Chief’s Slave Raids

The Efik Chief’s Slave Raids

“Once the native African chiefs saw that they could gain wealth from the sale of slaves to whites – some chiefs possessed European style two-storied wooden houses as early as 1785 – they soon found the means of providing yet more slaves. The Efik of Old Calabar, on the Cross River estuary in what is now the Calabar Province of Nigeria, ‘enslaved those of their own people who were guilty of theft or adultery, and also captured or purchased slaves from neighboring tribes.’

Isaac Parker, a ship-keeper who jumped ship in Duke Town in 1765 and remained there for six months, describes one of these raids. The Efik chief asked him ‘to go to war with him.’

He agreed, and they fitted out and armed the canoes and went upriver, ‘lying under the bushes in the day when they came near a village, and taking hold of everyone they could see. These are handcuffed, brought down to the canoes, and so proceeded up the river till they got to 45 captures. They then returned to Duke Town where the captains of the shipping divided the captives among the ships.

About a fortnight later they went out again for eight or nine days, plundering other villages higher upriver and capturing about the same number of villagers as before.

But the Europeans seldom engaged in the slave raids and used to buy their slaves from native brokers who lived in coastal towns. These slaves might be prisoners of war, criminals condemned to slavery, or debtors sold into slavery to satisfy creditors, or children stolen from a village.”

(The Slaves of Timbuktu. Robin Maugham. Harper & Brothers, 1961, pp. 32-33)