Enslaved People in the Qāḍī’s Record Book of Brava (1893-1900)

Autori: Lidwien Kapteijns, Alessandra Vianello
In: Africa. N.S. II/2, 2020
DOI: 10.23744/3191
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This article examines what can be learned about slaves and urban slavery from one unique source, namely the record book of legal acts (sijill) registered by the qāḍīs of Brava, a town on Somalia’s Benadir coast, in the period 1893-1900, just before the Italian administration in 1903 officially abolished slavery. Given the nature of the source, slaves feature almost completely as objects of transactions between those who owned them. However, in spite of the transactional nature of these legal summaries, the Qāḍī ’s Record Book nevertheless offers occasional glimpses of local acknowledgment of slaves’ humanity or an owner’s concern about a slave’s emotional wellbeing, and gives concrete evidence of slaves’ own, very limited legal personhood and agency.

keywords: brava, qāḍī ’s court, slaves, somalia, urban slavery