Steps Taken To Abolish Slave Trade

Steps Taken To Abolish Slave Trade

  • It was Britain that spear headed the campaign against slave trade in the 18th century.
  • In 1772, the Supreme court of England declared that Britain didn’t allow slavery in England and those who owned slaves were supposed to free them.
  • In 1807, through the effects of humanitarians (missionaries) and religious leaders, the British parliament passed a law making slave trade illegal.
  • In 1815, the British navy started patrolling the Indian Ocean waters so as to check on the shipment of slaves.
  • In 1822, the British used their influence to sign the Moresby treaty with sultan Seyyid Said. Captain Fair Fox Moresby signed on behalf of the   British.
  • By this treaty, no more slaves were to be exported to India, Madagascar, Mauritius and Christian countries.
  • In 1824, Captain Owen set up the Owen protectorate over Mombasa to stop slave trade activities in the area.
  • However this didn’t work because slave trade was carried out along the whole coast and not only at Mombasa.
  • In 1845, the Hamerton treaty was signed between Sultan Seyyid said and colonel Hamerton.
  • The treaty persuaded Seyyid said to stop buying and selling slaves within and outside East Africa.
  • Unfortunately, in 1856 Seyyid said died and colonel Hamerton also died in 1857.
  • Seyyid Said was succeeded by his son sultan Ibn Majid who was not to co-operate with the British.
  • Therefore the process of abolishing slave trade came to a standstill.
  • It was not until 1870 when sultan Bargash took over the throne from Sultan Majid.
  • In 1873, Sultan Bargash signed the Frere treaty with Sir Batte Frère to end slavery at Zanzibar.
  • All slave markets in Zanzibar were closed.
  •  In 1890, Zanzibar became a British protectorate.
  • In 1897, the Zanzibar slave market was burnt down and this ended slavery in Zanzibar and Pemba.
  • In 1919, Britain took over the control of Tanganyika.
  • She speeded up the process of ending slavery in mainland Tanganyika.
  • In 1921, the compete abolition process was achieved.
  • Britain imposed a law against slavery and this totally marked the end of slavery.

Why did the process of abolition take so long?

  • The Indian Ocean was too big to be patrolled by British navy alone.
  • European super powers e.g. France and Germany were not willing the support the abolition of slave trade because they still needed the slave workers.
  • Britain lacked the funds for the campaign against slave trade i.e. it was very expensive.
  • British war ships were always over powered by Arab slave traders because they were always many and had guns.
  • The British were not familiar with all the various inlets and outlets used by the Arab slave traders.
  • The abolition treaties signed were in most cases under looked by the slave traders.
  • Arab slave traders were very cunning e.g. they always used the American flag once they saw the British patrol ships approaching.
  • East Africa lacked alternative means of transport to replace human porterage which was mainly done by slaves.
  • Members of the British navy always suffered and died from tropical diseases e.g. Malaria.
  • The freed slaves didn’t have any where to go after abolition of slave trade hence the process was made long.
  • Interior chiefs e.g. Nyungu Ya Mawe, Mirambo, Kivoi, Mataka had built their empires using slave trade wealth and were not ready to abolish slave trade.
  • Physical barriers e.g. Forests Mountains, Rivers, Lakes etc always made the work of the abolitionists very difficult.
  • There was language barrier which also delayed the abolition of slave trade.