Thisgingnio: South Africa’s only Chinese woman prisoner

by Karen Williams  Although Chinese men made up the main contingent of prisoners that the Dutch East India Company (the VOC) held in South Africa, one Chinese woman prisoner has been documented. Thisgingnio1 was from Cirebon in Indonesia and she arrived in Cape Town on 9 April 1747. There is no information on her crime… Read More

Chained and enslaved: Early Chinese prisoners in South Africa

by Karen Williams   In 1705 a gang of Chinese slaves were caught robbing the burghers at night. When interrogated, it was discovered that they escaped from the (Slave) Lodge by forming a human pyramid in the courtyard to escape over the roof. – The Dutch East Indian Company’s Slave Lodge at the Cape, by Helene… Read More

Where were South Africa’s enslaved people from?

by Karen Williams  Slavery in South Africa began at the same time as colonisation in 1652, when Jan van Riebeeck, the representative of the Dutch East India Company (the VOC), arrived in Cape Town to set up a refreshment station. Van Riebeeck arrived with two slave girls from “Abyssinia” (Ethiopia). But Van Riebeeck’s arrival did… Read More

Zwarte Piet is a product of the Netherlands’ long involvement in the slave trade

by Karen Williams  The first time that I saw a photograph of the Zwarte Piet celebrations in the Netherlands, the door to questions of slavery in my own life swung wide open. There – right there – looking back at me was the representation of my personal history, and the long history of Dutch slavery… Read More

An introduction to the Indian Ocean slave trade

by Karen Williams  When many people think of slavery, they think of the translatlantic trade that took place between Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean. The legacy of enslavement in the Americas (particularly in the United States) is known globally through the cultural and political impact of African-American iconography, films, history and references in popular… Read More

Pope Francis pontificates on ‘new colonialism,’ Africa still reeling from the old one

by Rachel Décoste Thirty years ago Pope John Paul II chose Cameroon as the location to apologise to black Africa for the involvement of white Christians in the slave trade. This time, it is Pope Francis who uses Sub-Saharan Africa as a backdrop to speak out against colonialism. Last week in his inaugural trip to… Read More

The Koh-i-Noor diamond and why British Historians must be de-colonised

by Marcus Stow  India would like some of the British Empire’s spoils back, and have made it known with a campaign to return the Koh-i-Noor diamond, worth £105m and currently set in the Queen Mother’s crown. It’s not of course a unique situation, as campaigns for the return of the Parthenon Marbles and other loot… Read More

France’s refusal to pay Haiti reparations is a symptom of an even wider issue

by Halimat Shode   Last Tuesday, President Hollande arrived in Haiti – the first French president to make an official visit since Haiti’s independence – and declared that France had a ‘moral debt’ to the Caribbean country. Yet his declaration avoided any mention of the debt that France has enforced on Haiti since 1825, and… Read More

The Black Administration of White Interests

by Ronald A. Kuykendall The commodification of black bodies, once big business during the slave trade, and the cruelty and brutality associated with that condition lingers on today in a modified but obvious form. No longer is it the white mob eager to seize a black body, string it up, mutilate it, and drag in… Read More

Muscovado review: An alternative narrative that restores the humanity slaves were denied

by Ella Achola Matilda Ibini’s Muscovado, a BurntOut theatre production is set on the Fairbranch sugar plantation in 19th century Barbados where Miss Kitty struggles to keep her household together. Performed in the front of Holy Trinity Church in Clapham Common, the place where William Wilberforce first began his abolition campaign, Muscovado centres the slaves… Read More