Capture of Slaves & Coffles in Africa

  • Slaves Abandoned

    This engraving shows a small group of captured African who were left to die, some with the slave sticks still around their necks and hyenas hovering in the background. These people were being taken across Central Africa to the east coast of Africa. On June 27, 1866, Livingstone described how his expedition "came upon a man dead from starvation. . . One of our men wandered and found a number of slaves with slave-sticks on, abandoned by their master from want of food; they were too weak to be able to speak or say where they had dome from; some were quite young" (p. 62). This engraving, as others in the book, was made from one of Livingstone's sketches. David Livingstone (1813–1873) was a famous Scottish physician, Christian missionary, explorer and abolitionist. His interest was to locate the source of the Nile River. His missionary work also reinforced the European “Scramble for Africa” and the colonization of the continent. Although often reproduced in modern secondary sources, the primary source is rarely cited. Also published in J. E. Chambliss, The Life and Labors of David Livingstone (Philadelphia, 1875), p. 439, where it is captioned "Left to their Fate" in The Life and African Explorations of Dr. David Livingstone (St. Louis, 1874), p. 123; and in Thomas W. Knox, The Boy Travellers on the Congo (New York, 1888), p. 421, where it is captioned "Slaves Left to Die." Knox is sometimes, erroneously, cited as the primary source.
  • The Massacre of the Manyuema Women at Nyangwe

    This image depicts Arab slave traders attacking Nyangwe on the near the Great Lakes and Central Interior regions. Livingstone described this in July 1871, in which he reports that "the Arabs themselves estimated the loss of life at between 330 and 400 souls" (p. 382-384). David Livingstone (1813–1873) was a famous Scottish physician, Christian missionary, explorer and abolitionist. His interest was to locate the source of the Nile River. His missionary work also reinforced the European “Scramble for Africa” and the colonization of the continent. This engraving was made from Livingstone's sketches. It is reproduced in Thomas W. Knox, The Boy Travellers on the Congo (New York, 1888), p. 219, where it is captioned Muini Dujambi's Followers Attacking Nyangwè. Knox's book, in turn, is a condensation of Henry Stanley's famous Through the Dark Continent (New York, 1878), but the Knox publishers took their images from several volumes of African travel exploration (p.2), without citing their sources. See images C014 and knox02.
  • Slave Coffle, Central Africa, 1874

    Caption: Slave Gang Passing Along the Edge of the Lushivi Marsh. From a sketch by Lieutenant Cameron in Central Africa. The engraving is based on a sketch that illustrates a lengthy account (p. 366) of Verney Lovett Cameron's voyage to Africa. Cameron, lauded by the ILN as one of the most successful of African geographical explorers had recently returned to England, having left in November 1872 under the auspices of the Royal Geographical Society. He traveled through Central and East Africa in the early 1870s, and witnessed this slave coffle in central Africa around 1874: the painful march of a slave gang, two or three score wretched women all tied together by knotted ropes, all heavily laden and driven on by the whip . . . . The slaves were kidnapped by a ruffian named Coimbra, a half-caste Portuguese from Bihe(p. 366). A similar engraving is published in Cameron's Across Africa (Leipzig, 1877), vol. 2, p. 147.
  • Slave Coffle, East Africa, 1880s

    Although depicting a scene in the East African slave trade, the scene is evocative of coffles in other areas. Captioned A slave gang in Zanzibar, the setting is actually the East African coast rather than the island of Zanzibar itself, and some of the enslaved Africans with this particular trader came from beyond Lake Tanganyika . . . months ago. The picture shows captured Africans linked by metal (?) neck collars and chains, carrying baskets of goods, and guarded by an armed Arab slaver. The engraving is based on a sketch furnished by W. A. Churchill, and the brief accompanying article (p. 342) provides a description and harsh criticism of the Arab slave trade.
  • Enslaved Africans in a Coffle, Eastern Sudan, 1848

    Captioned, Habitants de Kery réduits a l'esclavage par le gourverneur des provinces égyptiennes (The inhabitants of Kery reduced to slavery by the governor of the Egyptian provinces), this illustration accompanies a lengthy excerpt from Pierre Trémaux, Voyages au Soudan oriental et dans l'Afrique septentrionale, exécuté de 1847 a 1854 (Paris, 1852-58). Shows several enslaved Africans guarded by two rifle-armed men, one on a camel, the other on a donkey; what appears to be an elephant's tusk (ivory) is lashed to the latter. The enslaved African on the right, lashed to the camel by a rope, is also forced to carry a tusk, while the other enslaved African is lashed to the camel by means of a wooden yoke, the so-called Goree, or Slave-Stick. Lithograph made from a drawing done in the field by Trémaux. In the plates accompanying Trémaux's work (plate 48), the fuller caption to this illustration indicates these enslaved Africans were sent to Egypt in 1848. Although the Ottomans, who nominally controlled Egypt, abolished the slave trade in 1846, enslaved Africans continued to be brought into Egypt from the Sudan for many years afterwards.
  • Enslaved Ethnic Groups, East Africa, Upper Nile Region, 1840s

    Shows four men and one woman (with baby on her back), representing several types of tribus de negres (Negro tribes) involved in the slave trade, identified (from left to right), as Macoua, Inhamban, Maravi/Moravi, Muyao; the adults are shown with facial scarifications or so-called tribal marks. This illustration accompanies a lengthy eyewitness account by Loarer (no first name given) on slavery on the east coast of Africa (pp. 135-138). The author describes in ethnocentric terms, the characteristics of each of these groups (pp. 135-136).
  • A Slave Coffle at Rest, East Africa, Upper Nile Region, 1840s

    Captioned Halte d'une caravane d'esclaves (A stop/resting place for a slave coffle), shows a group of enslaved Africans linked by wooden poles, the so-called Goree, or Slave-Stick; in center, the Arab slave trader is smoking a hookah or waterpipe. This illustration accompanies a lengthy eyewitness account by Loarer (no first name given) on slavery on the east coast of Africa (pp. 135-138).
  • Slave Coffle, East Africa, Upper Nile region, 1840s

    Captioned Caravane d'éclaves, illustration shows five enslaved men linked by poles in the so-called Goree, or Slave-Stick Goree; Arab slave trader in foreground. This illustration accompanies a lengthy eyewitness account by Loarer (no first name given) on slavery on the east coast of Africa (pp. 135-138).
  • Scenes on the Congo

    This image shows various ways of restraining enslaved people from the Central Interior region. Charles Edwin Fripp (1854–1906) made this illustration. He was an English painter and illustrator, and special war artist, who produced images for various wars in South Africa including: Kaffir War, Zulu War and the Boer War.
  • A Slave Raid

    This image depicts Muslims raiding and kidnapping people in the East Central Africa region.
  • 'Goree,' or Slave-Stick

    David Livingstone does not appear to describe this slave stick, which consisted of a forked branch which was the same size of a neck so the head cannot pass through it. The two ends of the fork contained holes so that an iron pin could close off the fork across the neck. The term Goree likely refers to Gorée Island in the Senegambia region, although this image depicts enslaved people from East Central Africa and the Great Lakes region. David Livingstone (1813–1873) was a famous Scottish physician, Christian missionary, explorer and abolitionist. His interest was to locate the source of the Nile River. His missionary work also reinforced the European “Scramble for Africa” and the colonization of the continent. See images LCP-12, PRO-4 and Mariners09.
  • The Slave Chain

    This image shows a group of enslaved Africans linked together in a coffle by chain or rope in front of a small building. European slave traders in background. Forbes described his visit to Little Popo in the Bight of Benin region as "an extensive slave port. . . The houses are badly built; that in which I am living forms the four sides of a square. . . the fourth [side] is a stable and sleeping house for the blacks, many of whom have the small-pox" (vol. 1, pp. 98-100). Frederick E. Forbes went to the Bight of Benin on a British anti-slavery mission in 1849 and 1850.
  • Manner of Fettering Slaves

    This coffle of enslaved men and women were linked together by rope or chain around their necks. Based on observations made in the Great Lakes region in October 1873.
  • L'embarquement des négres

    "Boarding of Negroes" (caption translation). In the foreground, the coastal scene shows captive Africans being whipped and guarded by other Africans, presumably their captors. In the background, an African village and European slave ship was waiting offshore. A very similar scene was depicted on another engraving, "A view taken near Bain, on the coast of Guinea in Affrica," by Catherine Prestell, London, 1789. See www.wikigallery.org, www.bridgemanart.com, and the website of the National Maritime Museum (Greenwich), Picture Gallery, image F0879. The original is identified as a colored aquatint, done by Catherine Prestell after R. Westal.
  • Victims of Portuguese Slave Hunters

    The image title is misleading and incorrect because the slave traders are not Portuguese. The image shows a line of men and women lashed together by ropes, guarded by a horse-mounted slave trader, who was likely a Mande speaker or Soninke (Sarakole) or Dioula (Jula). The illustration in Buel's volume was, in fact, taken from Joseph Simon Gallièni, Mission d'exploration du Haut-Niger: Voyage au Soudan Francais (Paris, 1885), p. 525. Therein, the caption reads Le Mana-Oulè et caravan d'esclaves, or "The Mana-Oulè and Caravan of Slaves." Mana-Oulè is the rocky geological formation shown in the background located in the Senegambia region.
  • Wooden Yoke Used in Coffle, East Africa, 1882

    Captioned,
  • A Slaver's Canoe

    This engraving depicts African slave traders and enslaved people in canoe from the Loango Coast and Kwanza North regions. Glave lived in the Congo for six years, 1883-1889. He provided a vivid account of slaving activities in the Congo river basin. The illustration was described as captives being "hobbled with roughly hewn logs which chafe their limbs to open sores; sometimes a whole tree presses its weight on their bodies while their necks are penned into the natural prong formed by its branching limbs. Others sit from day to day with their legs and arms maintained in a fixed position by rudely constructed stocks, and each slave is secured to the roof-posts by a cord knotted to a cane ring which either encircles his neck or is intertwined with his woolly hair. Many die of pure starvation, as the owners give them barely enough food to exist upon. . . After suffering this captivity for a short time they become mere skeletons. All ages, of both sexes, are to be seen: mothers with their babes; young men and women; boys and girls; and even babies who cannot yet walk. . . One seldom sees either old men or old women; they are all killed in the raids" (Glave, pp. 830-31). This image was reproduced in Thomas W. Knox, The Boy Travellers on the Congo (New York, 1887). A variant of this illustration, captioned for sale appears in Glave's book In Savage Africa (New York, 1892), p. 201).
  • Under the Portuguese Flag

    Based on a sketch by Sir John Willoughby and engraved by G. Durand, this image depicts a slave coffle in the Portuguese districts of Southeastern Africa. Accompanies an article of the same title, the first of three articles dealing with slavery in this area. In November 1891, Willoughby visited a region up to 500 miles inland from the coast. He witnessed "scenes of violence and oppression. On one occasion, he saw "two gangs of slaves, each consisting of of a dozen women, mostly with little children on their backs, and all chained together by means of heavy lengths of chains attached to iron rings round their necks" (p. 275). Also cited in Daniel Mannix, Black Cargoes (New York, 1962), after p. 146, but he gives a misleading caption and erroneously dates this engraving to the 1870s.
  • Slavers Revenging Their Losses

    This engraving shows a coffle of men, women, and children, led by Arab slavers. One of the guards is murdering a captive unable to keep up with the rest. These people were taken across the Central Interior region to the east coast of Africa. The engravings in this book were based on, according to the editor, "rude sketches made by Livingstone." On June 19, 1866, Livingstone explained how his expedition "passed a woman tied by the neck to a tree and dead, the people of the country explained that she had been unable to keep up with the other slaves in a gang, and her master had determined that she should not become the property of anyone else if she recovered after resting a time. . . we saw others tied up in a similar manner. . . the Arab who owned these victims was enraged at losing his money by the slaves becoming unable to march, and vented his spleen by murdering them" (p. 56). This print is one of the best known and frequently reproduced images in the literature on slaving in Africa. Also published in: J. E. Chambliss, The Life and Labors of David Livingstone (Philadelphia, 1875), p. 435; The Life and African Explorations of Dr. David Livingstone (St. Louis, 1874), p. 87; and in Thomas W. Knox, The Boy Travellers on the Congo (New York, 1888), p. 419 --with the caption Slave Caravans on the Road; Knox is sometimes erroneously given as the primary source.
  • Sirboko's Slaves Carrying Fuel and Cutting Rice

    This image shows four men linked by chains, under guard. In the background, people are working rice fields. Although the scene reflects interactions with peoples from the Great Lakes region and illustrates indigenous domestic or household slavery surrounding rice production. Speke (1827–1864) made three expeditions in search for the source of the Nile. He was the first European to reach Lake Victoria. He is also known for propounding the Hamitic hypothesis in 1863, in which he supposed that the Wahuma ethnic group were descendants of the biblical figure Ham, and had lighter skin and more Hamitic features than the Bantu over whom they ruled. Sirboko was an African with whom Speke became acquainted.
  • A Coffle

    The title and image obtained from Tibble. His caption is "A Coffle: Captives were marched, often in yokes, from the inland areas of Africa to the coast for sale to Europeans" (p. 102). This image is also published in James Walvin, An African's Life: The Life and Times of Olaudah Equiano, 1745-1797 (Cassell, 1998, p. 11), which cites the original source as Verney Lovett Cameron, Travels in Central Africa (1873). However, there is no book by that title under Cameron's authorship. The image is also in Walvin's Black Ivory (London, 1992), but no original source is identified. This image is one of several images derived from the original engraving in David and Charles Livingstone, Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi and its Tributaries (London, 1865). See image reference C019.
  • Gang of Captives met at Mbame's on their way to Tette

    The Livingstone's apparently witnessed this scene in July, 1861, which shows men linked by yokes, children and women attached by chains or ropes, with their African guards armed with guns. Mbame was a village chief, friendly to Livingstone. Tette/Tete, a village on the Zambezi River, located in in the East Central Africa region. This village was the last Portuguese outpost on the Zambezi. David Livingstone (1813–1873) was a famous Scottish physician, Christian missionary, explorer and abolitionist. His interest was to locate the source of the Nile River. His missionary work also reinforced the European “Scramble for Africa” and the colonization of the continent. This image was published not long after the appearance of the New York edition to accompany an article, Livingstone's Last African Expedition (pp. 709-23). See also in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, vol. 32 (Dec. 1865-May 1866), p. 719. The article gives a summary account of the Livingstones' Narrative of an Expedition. The captives shown here were destined for the East African trade. The image and its historical context, as well as sources in which it is found, is discussed at length in Jerome Handler and Annis Steiner, Identifying Pictorial Images of Atlantic Slavery: Three Case Studies, Slavery and Abolition 27 (2006), 52-54. Compare this image with image C017 on this website.
  • Convoi de femmes captives

    "Convoy of Female Captives" (caption translation). This image shows women and children with two African guards armed with rifles, one is mounted on a horse. Date unknown; location is probably the Western Savanna.
  • The Arabs among the Benecki

    This illustration shows Arab raiders, which von Wissman described as "eager to obtain slaves and ivory, chasing and slaying members of the West African Benecki, who attempted to flee into the forest. The Benecki always returned to their villages and fields, but when the harvest was ready, the slave traders would reappear to seize crops and people. The author writes that war, slave-robbery, famine, and pestilence had actually been able to completely depopulate this densely populated territory" (pp. 185-86). Hermann Wilhelm Leopold Ludwig Wissmann (1853–1905) was a German explorer and administrator in Africa, who traveled through the Congo River basin in the Central Interior. After, Wissmann served King Leopold II of Belgium and aided in the process of creating the Congo Free State.
  • Feeding Slaves

    Hermann Wilhelm Leopold Ludwig Wissmann (1853–1905) was a German explorer and administrator in Africa, who traveled through the Congo River basin in the Central Interior. After, Wissmann served King Leopold II of Belgium and aided in the process of creating the Congo Free State.
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