Friday, 10 May 2019

In September 1888, the HMS Osprey serving in the Royal Navy’s anti-slave trade mission in the Red Sea, based in Aden, intercepted three dhows embarked from Rahayta and Tadjoura on the Ethiopia coast.

Aboard were 204 boys and girls bound for resale in Arabian markets. Other dhows with young human cargo were also apprehended. The children came from the highland area of Oromia Region of Ethiopia, and spoke the Oromo language.

They had been trekked as many as several hundred kilometres to the coast. The children were taken to Aden and, for a time, were housed and cared for at the Free Church of Scotland mission at Sheikh Othman.

The arrivals, however, were often too debilitated to withstand the harsh climate and prevalent malaria. In 1890, 64 of the survivors were transferred to the Free Church of Scotland’s Lovedale Institution, in Alice, a town in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.

The story is captured in a new book laden with graphs, maps, charts and statistics. But if you like your history as narrative, you’ll have the job of piecing together this extraordinary story written by Sandra Rowoldt Shell in Children of Hope: The Odyssey of the Oromo Slaves from Ethiopia to South Africa.

Fate of Oromo kids

During the 10 years the children spent at Lovedale they proved to be good students and on good terms with their Xhosa-speaking and English school mates. Four in five survived and left the school as young adults in search of opportunities. They became teachers, shop assistants, carpenters, painters, cooks, clerks.

Most remained in South Africa, but 17 earned fares to Ethiopia. A few married and started families. One whose story is traced in the book is Bisho Jarsa who married former Lovedale student Reverend Frederick Scheepers. Their daughter Dimbiti married carpenter James Edward Alexander, and were the parents of South African liberation struggle veteran and academic Neville Alexander.

But most of the Oromo orphans’ lives ended in obscurity or tragedy. Mortality among the returnees was particularly high (33%).

However, the orphans’ stories are not completely lost. Many left behind their autobiographies at Lovedale. They related, in their own voices, their individual ordeals from the time they were captured, sold or pawned, including the tortuously long journeys between their Oromo homeland to the coast. All are rendered in full in the books’ appendices.

Much of Shell’s account delivers the quantitative side of the Oromo story. She followed an assiduous research path to retrieve all possible data related to the orphans, their place of origin, the details of their enslavement and transfer, place by place to various entrepots, the traders and merchants involved, until over a 100 pages later, the Royal Navy’s Osprey appears.

Rich detail

Once in Aden, lengthy asides document the Sheikh Othman mission and its Keith-Falconer school (illustrated by photographs), personal details about the missionaries involved, orphan mortality, age and gender data.

After the orphans reach East London, in the Eastern Cape, we learn a lot about the Lovedale curriculum, comparative performance of Oromo and non-Oromo students (the Oromo did better on average), supplemented with graphs on class marks and percentages, including distributions, gendered results, class positions, and mortality rates, among others (the reproductive quality of the graphs is not very good).

A teacher scandal gets its own sleuthing through the display of doctored photographs eliding the suggestive hands of an Oromo boy on the alleged culprit’s shoulders prior to his dismissal.

Once leaving Lovedale, individuals are traced (thanks to a 1903 questionnaire results unearthed by Shell) that reflect the mixed fortunes of the Lovedale graduates. Though she displays many Oromo group photographs, Shell has uncovered only one individual photograph (the arresting Berille Boko).

A full one-third of the volume is made up of appendices on data variables, the Oromo autobiographies with a place-name gazetteer, an essay by Gutama Jarafo, detailed endnotes, bibliography and an extensive index.

Shell has added a great deal to our understanding of how children were ensnared into the Indian Ocean slave trade, which connected much of the Eastern African interior to Arabia, the Persian Gulf and India. Long after the Atlantic slave trade was snuffed out, the Indian Ocean trade continued almost to the beginning of the 20th century. The Osprey’s intervention and the survival of but a mere quarter of those it rescued suggests that thousands of children’s lives remained enslaved and in misery.The Conversation


Fred Morton, Professor of History, University of Botswana

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

South Africa’s rand was mostly unchanged in early trade on Friday, as vote counting showed the ruling African National Congress to hold a commanding lead in an election for a new parliament and provincial legislatures.

The ANC is set to retain power after Wednesday’s election though the party is on course for its worst performance in a national poll in its 25 years in government.

At 0638 GMT, the rand traded at 14.3200 per dollar, 0.17 percent firmer than its New York close on Thursday.

The rand is expected to trade in the range of 14.25 to 14.40 rand to the dollar, NKC African Economics said in a morning note.

Investors however remain nervous after U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariff hike on $200 billion of Chinese goods took effect, raising tensions between the world’s two biggest economies despite ongoing talks negating any positive moves from elections.

In fixed income, the yield on the benchmark instrument due in 2026 was down 3 basis points to 8.520 percent.

Published in Business
Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information and Strategy,  Mr Charles Udoh says the provision of infrastructure, industrialisation, integrity in government, human capacity development and entrepreneural development are programmes put in place by the administration of Mr Udom Emmanuel to make the state an enviable and viable place for investment.
The Commissioner gave this indication recently while being hosted by Comfort FM radio in a Breakfast programme.
The Commissioner who stressed that  Governor Udom Emmanuel is poised to make Akwa Ibom State a model for Nigeria added that the completion agenda of the Governor is designed to consolidate on the 5 point Agenda of the first tenure which he enumerated to include wealth creation, job creation, poverty alleviation, infrastructural expansion and inclusion as well as political and economic inclusion.
Mr Udoh said Governor Udom Emmanuel's zeal in making life better for the citizens of the state is unfolded rural and riverine areas development and small and medium scale enterprise innumerable which are some of the programmes ear marked for the governor's Completion Agenda.
He said the provision of rice processing plant and access road to ease transportation of farm produce to the centre in Ini Local Government Area and fish processing plant in rural areas have added value and a great boost to entrepreneurship in the state, this Mr Udoh emphasised has diversifiedn the state's economy and made it more economically vibrant.
The Information Boss applauded the Governor for his mien, integrity and ingenuity in governance. He said this was brought to fore when the Governor Need Analysis and interviews of what citizens actually expected from the government in his second tenure. This Analysis, the Commissioner revealed were the aspirations of the citizens which formed the contents of the Governor's Completion Agenda.
The Commissioner gave an assurance that with the conducive environment provided in the state and the various investment opportunities in addition to the infrastructural development in the state, the relocation of EXXON Mobil to Akwa Ibom State will not be negotiable.
Published in World

The National Association of Yam Farmers, Processors and Marketers has urged the Nigerian Government to help facilitate a trade treaty with a duty-free yam export to Europe.

The association in a communique signed by its president, Simon Irtwange, and issued on Thursday in Abuja at the end of a four-day study tour to Ghana said, Nigeria yam exports to the UK attracted a duty (tax) of 9.5 Euros per 100kg unlike their counterparts in Ghana which pay zero export duty.

“The government of Ghana has signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and provisional application of the EU Free Trade Agreement (EUFTA). The trade agreement with the EU makes it possible for Ghana yam exporters to export yams to Europe and the UK duty-free. The Federal Government should sign this agreement.

The association also appealed that the Federal Government “Should assist by way of pre-export incentives for yam exporters and the provision of warehouse in Lagos to serve as a National Yam Export Pack House.

It also requested the Federal Government to assist them “With the production of cartons/boxes for yam exporters and assist with one-off purchase of two cold trucks to support transportation and export logistics.

“There should be a rationalisation of bureaucracy in yam export making provision for only three agencies located under one roof as a one-stop-shop.

“Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, and Nigeria Customs Service should be the agencies for the inspection of yams before export,” the communiqué read.

Published in Agriculture
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