The Resettlement and Rehabilitation of the Ex-Slaves 

The Resettlement and Rehabilitation of the Ex-Slaves

The activity of the settling of the ex-slaves was first done by CMS as early as 1855 in rehabilitation centre built at Saharanpur near Bombay in India.

As time went on, the CMS started another centre in Mauritius and the Holy Ghost fathers started the rehabilitation centre on the Island of reunion on the Indian Ocean.

In these centre, they kept the ex-slaves who were rescued by the British Navy which was patrolling the Indian Ocean.

In East Africa and at the coast, the rehabilitation of the ex-slaves started in the early years of 1860s when different  missionary groups started coming

The Catholics put up the first major rehabilitation centre in 1868 which scared the British because they thought it was the barracks.

The Holy Ghost fathers started the building work set up a hospital for whites, a clinic for the blacks and the school for the children bought in slave markets.

By 1866,around 110 orphans were being educated by the missionaries in their rehabilitation centre and all had been bought from slave markets   

The university mission in central Africa started the work of rehabilitating the ex-slaves in 1884 in Zanzibar under Bishop Tozer.

Tozer trained the ex-slaves in catechism and others were taught trade in order to prepare them for independent life.  

Reasons for the Establishment of Rehabilitation Centers by the Missionaries

  • The need to join Britain in the struggle against slave trade and slavery in East Africa led to the missionary putting up of the ex-slave camps.
  • Need to find a place where the freed slaves could be resettled since most of them had no clear destination after being freed.
  • The need to have the ex-slaves rehabilitated more possible in the camps where they would be counseled, guided, fed, nursed, clothes and prepared for the future.
  • Need by the missionaries to develop legitimate trade to replace slave trade by Agricultural development. Ø The desire to spread Christianity in East Africa led to the establishment of the camps in order to teach Christianity to the ex-slaves.
  • Missionary desire to bring the converted Africans in a Christian life so as to study the Bible and conduct Catechism.
  • The need to hide the imperial interests of the whites and present themselves as humanitarians so as to be accepted by the Africans.
  • Missionary desire to out complete Islam in East Africa led to the establishment of the Camps so as to fight Islam.
  • The camps were also meant to solve the man power problem the Missionaries they wanted to get labour on their farms by using the ex-slaves.
  • There was also the economic motive of exploiting labour through agricultural raw materials produced by the ex-slaves and take them to the European manufacturing industries.
  • There was also need to have ready market for the manufactured goods produced in Europe hence having the ex-slaves in the camps.
  • They were established for the purposes of easily spreading western civilization through offering western education to the settled ex-slaves.
  • The political imperial motive of colonizing African minds so as to accept anything European including Colonialism.
  • The activities of the Catholics in Zanzibar and Bagamoyo inspired other Missionary societies to establish the ex-slaves camps.
  • Competition for converts among different denominations also explains why each missionary society tried to put up the ex-slaves camps.
Services Rendered To the Ex-Slaves at Bagamoyo Camp

At Bagamoyo rehabilitation camp, anumber of services were offered to the freed slaves as explained below.

  • The ex-slaves who had no where to stay were resettled in this camp and found a new home under the central of the whites.
  • They were also provided with food which saved them from hunger starvation and possible death.
  • The ex-slaves were counseled and their minds were filled with hope of another life after slavery.
  • They were provided with descent accommodation which saved them from sleeping in bushes where they could easily be captured.
  • The ex-slaves were taught Christianity and this made them believe in Jesus as their personal lord and savior.
  • Ex-slaves were meant to adopt a life of prayer in Bagamoyo camp hence bringing spiritual light in lives of the ex-slaves. E.g. they spent an hour in prayer, bible study and catechism every day.
  • The ex-slaves were dressed and this brought joy and happiness in the lives of these miserable Africans.
  • Medical services were also offered to them using western medicine in case of diseases like malaria which was a big threat in the camp.
  • Some ex-slaves were given academic education hence preparing them for the future e.g. they were taught has to read and write and some of them became priests, catechists and evangelists.
  • Freed slaves were also trained to work in gardens and this was mainly done on the mission farms. This gave a chance to ex-slaves to learn agricultural skills.
  • The ex-slaves who were orphans were given new parents who were whites and these looked after them in the more natural and parental way.
  • There was a group of ex-slaves which was trained practical skills in carpentry, brick making and building.
  • This equipped them with life skills for future survival.
  • At Bagamoyo camp, the freed slaves were also allowed to interact freely with one another for an hour every day which helped them to develop friendship and love among themselves.
  • They were made to abandon their backward African practices and beliefs and entered into a community of Christians which set them free.
  • Those who reached the marriage age where married off in a Christian monogamy marriage practice and they were settled in Christian villages which were under a missionary to help them stay in love and companionship.
  • Bagamoyo rehabilitation centre also offered land to a grown up ex-slaves. They there4 grew food on this land which enabled them live a happy life.
  • In general, Bagamoyo rehabilitation centre was a model centre that set a good example and led to the setting up of other centres like Frere town resettlement centre by the CMS.

Qn. Examine the services offered to the freed slaves in the resettlement camps set up by missionaries.

Problems Faced By Catholics at Bagamoyo Camp
  • They had a problem of land with the Wazamani people who claimed ownership of the area and started planting crops on it. The church had to first comfort them to go away.
  • It became too expensive for the church to maintain the ex-slaves in this centre. It is reported that five (5) pounds were needed to pay for the training of each ex-slave to make himself supportive.
  • During 1870s, the catholic missionaries had a problem on severe financial shortage due to the Franco-
  • Prussian war in which France was defeated and lost her areas of Alsace and Lorrain which had minerals.
  • Diseases especially malaria and dysentery also threatened Bagamoyo camp. By 1877 twelve missionaries had died at Bagamoyo camp.
  • Insecurity was another challenge to the missionaries at Bagamoyo. This was mainly caused by Arab activities against missionaries who were fighting againstslave trade.
  • Missionary work at Bagamoyo was later interfered by the desire for material wealth among the ex-slaves which limited their attention and commitment to God.
  • There was shortage of man power to carry out the activities of the camp. Many whites didn’t want to work in Africa and a few who came were killed by diseases which caused labor scarcity.
  • The Catholics were facing the problem of language barrier with ex-slaves. This is because they were all serfs of ex-slaves whom the missionaries could not communicate with.
  • Some ex-slaves become immoral and indiscipline at Bagamoyo camp and it became a problem for the catholic missionaries to restore morals among ex-slaves.
  • Many ex-slaves were deeply rooted into their traditional cultures and it was hard for the missionaries to convert some people to Christianity.


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