Martha Solomons: The slave’s daughter and Countess of Stamford who made my life possible

by Karen Williams The question from the Pakistani government minister was not unfamiliar to me: “And what are you, are you a Zulu?” It was my early days in Islamabad and the official’s gentle ribbing was a common question. Yet this time, I was speechless. Floundering, I grasped at half-sentences, well aware that people around… Read More

Invasion and Resistance: Aboriginal and Maori fighters take up arms against the British

by Karen Williams While little attention is paid to black and Asian prisoners transported during the colonisation of Australia, there is even less information about local Aboriginal people and the neighbouring Maori fighters who were exiled to or within Australia. Their exile happened as part of their wider experiences of organised resistance against colonisation and… Read More

Blackbirding: a story of forced labour in Australia

by Karen Williams  Sugar production is synonymous with forced labour and enslavement in the Caribbean and the Americas, and it is often associated with a high degree of exploitation. The production of the crop in Australia and the Pacific was no exception: and although it is not widely acknowledged, Australia’s sugar industry came about because… Read More

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

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