The Abolition of the Slave Trade in Southeastern Nigeria, 1885-1950

November 2006
4 black and white illustrations
230 pages
9x6 in
Rochester Studies in African History and the Diaspora
ISBN: 9781580462426
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC LCO001000, HIS001050, POL045000

The Abolition of the Slave Trade in Southeastern Nigeria, 1885-1950

A. E. Afigbo

A historical reconstruction of the campaign to end the slave trade in Southeastern Nigeria.
The Abolition of the Slave Trade in Southeastern Nigeria, 1885-1950, is a history of the campaign waged by Great Britain in colonial Nigeria from approximately 1885 on, to abolish the internal slave trade in the Bight of Biafra and its hinterland, a region also known as Eastern Nigeria, Southeastern Nigeria, the Eastern Provinces, or the trans-Niger Provinces. It treats the internal slave trade and the war against it in this region and period as themes separate from the institution of slavery in the same area and the campaign to root it out generally known as emancipation. For this reason, and because slavery and the effort at emancipation have received more attention from scholars, this work concentrates entirely on that aspect of the slave trade and its fortunes under British colonial rule commonly known as abolition. In reconstructing the story of this important and protracted campaign, Adiele Afigbo sheds light on a dark corner of social history that has largely been neglected by historians.

Adiele Afigbo is Pofessor in the Department of History and International Relations at Ebonyi State University, Nigeria.

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Table of Contents

Philanthropy and Humanitarianism Left Out in the Cold, 1830-84/85
Abolition: The Coastal Phase, ca. 1885-1900
Abolition: The Hinterland Phase I: Blood and Iron, 1900-1914
Abolition: The Hinterland Phase II: Courts and Constables, 1900-1932
Abolition: The Hinterland Phase III: Courts and Constrables, 1933-50


This book is a welcome addition to the growing corpus of studies of the suppression of slavery during the colonial period. It differs from others in its specific focus on the issue of slave-trading, rather than the institution of slavery. . . .Afigbo makes good use of records of prosecutions of alleged slave-dealers to illustrate the detailed workings of the trade, including the practice of concealing the aquisition and transfer of female slaves under the guise of marriage transactions, and the use of ritual sanctions to discourage escapes and ensure the silence of witnesses. JOURNAL OF AFRICAN HISTORY, 2008 [Robin Law]

This book does more than simply add to the long list of titles from the pen of eminent historian A. E. Afigbo, who has bestrode the scholarship of southeastern Nigeria for more than three decades. This is the first book to problematize the history of the region's internal slave trade abolition. . . . Direct, revealing, and challenging, the book maps the twists and turns of the prolonged process of abolition in a manner that is vintage Afigbo. --G. Ugo Nwokeji, University of California, Berkeley

Among scholars, the study of the Atlantic slave trade has attracted much and deserved attention because of its larger significance in contemporary social ethics and culture wars. Few scholars know the archival data in this region and on this matter as A. E. Afigbo. This book is a refreshing piece of historiography that adds yet another voice in the contemporary literature on the slave trade. --Ogbu U Kalu, Henry Winters Luce Professor of World Christianity, McCormick Theological Seminary

This is one of the rare studies that truly localizes the history of the campaign against slave traffic and slavery in the Bight of the Biafra, explains why Ibibio and Igbo parents sold and pawned their children, and captures the mobility and elusiveness of both the professional and temporary dealers in the face of the British colonial government in southeastern Nigeria. --Gloria Chuku, Department of History, Millersville University of Pennsylvania, and author of Igbo Women and Economic Transformation in Southeastern Nigeria, 1900-1960

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