Interesting slavery story

I was lucky enough to walk in on a talk at Englands National Gallery about a painting by William Hoare of Bath of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo.

Diallo, a black African and devout Muslim, was a slaver who sold to Europeans.

On one of his expeditions to capture more slaves he was himself instead captured by of other African slavers along with his assistant and men in 1731.

They shaved off his beard and was sold with the other captures to the self same ships captain that he did business with.

The captain didn’t recognise him without his clothes or beard and he was taken to the U.S. where he lived and worked as a slave.

While there a Christian vicar noted his obvious intelligence and education( He could recite the whole of the Koran from memory) and he was sent to work in England in 1733,for the very shipping company that had bought him in the first place.

Eventually he was released by public subscription and returned both to his home in Africa and his career of slaving.

The painting is owned by Qatar but is on loan to the N.G. while an export licence is being sought.

The man in the painting is to my eyes very enigmatic and well worth a viewing if you get the opportunity.

He went back to his slaving career? What an asshole!

Well, for the True Believers, would that might be just another aspect of God’s Curse upon the Hamites?

(not making any judgment here, just reporting something I find fascinating that has been pointed out to me by some Fundamentalist friends)

It is a dick move, but you gotta realize he probably saw himself as far removed and unassociated with the people he was trafficking as the Europeans felt that they were. Medieval West Africa was a land of wealthy, organized, powerful kingdoms that didn’t have much regard for the barbarians inhabiting the tse-tse zones at their borders. He, too, no doubt considered himself to be one of the civilized elites who were free to use the savages as they wished.

Anyway, West Africa has it’s own history of slavery (which is not exactly analogous- it’s somewhere between a really intense caste system and what we consider full-on slavery) as well as Arab slave trading.

What’s fascinating to me is that his name could be the name of any random average Joe in West Africa today.

Interesting story, indeed.

And - like the majority of humanity up until at least 1800 - he no doubt saw little or no moral component to slavery. On the scale of human history, the opposite view is actually rather recent.


Thanks for the history lesson.

My guess is the “asshole” comment stemmed from how bizarre it seems that he didn’t have a “Holy shit, slavery is fucked up!” moment, considering he had been sold into slavery himself.

That’s what I thought cuauhtemoc was saying too. Maybe he needed to tell himself it wasn’t so bad. Or maybe he was just a stone cold bastard.

That wiki link is a good one. It’s got a high-res scan of the image under discussion.

Yeah, that, and I really thought this story was going another way. In most of these “people getting a taste of their own medicine” stories, they learn their lesson and switch to the good guy team. There’s no way they could make a Hollywood movie about this guy, that’s for sure.

Sorry, I’m not trying to be snarky or condescending. I’m honestly just really enthusiastic about medieval African history…it’s a fascinating time that isn’t really covered in the standard education.

Honestly, he looks a little fruity. Just sayin’.

I think his life was interesting enough to make a movie about, but I get your point about there being no "I’ve learned my lesson "conversion.