Article of the month: April
Ethiopian royalty accompanied by their slaves
It was said only when Haile Selassie came into power that the Ethiopian slavery in Ethiopia and/or the trade in enslaved people was firmly abolished. However many of his predecessor had seriously reduced the trade. This was done in 1924 in a bid to “clean-up” Ethiopia’s image for admission into the League of Nations.
Ethiopian slavery differed from the plantation slavery of North America for example, in that it was essentially domestic. Slaves thus served in the houses of their masters or mistresses, and were not employed to any significant extent for productive purposes, Slaves were thus regarded as members of their owners’ family, and were fed, clothed and protected- but not paid any wage, either in kind or cash. They generally roamed around freely and conducted business. Freedom of religion and ethnic culture were also not restricted, they maintained their cultural identity, their names, etc.
The Ethiopian slave trade was by no means unregulated. On the contrary, the Fetha Nagast prohibited the sale of Christians to non-believers. By the time of Emperor Susneyos, in the early 17th century, it was also established that Christians were not allowed to sell slaves of any faith – though they were allowed to purchase them. The Fetha Nagast’s restriction applied only to Christians – with the result that Muslims were entirely free to sell slaves – and had in fact a virtual monopoly in the business. Islamic paramountcy in the slave trade was reinforced by the fact that slave exports went very largely to Muslim territories, most notably Arabia, Sudan and Egypt, as well as Muslim areas of India.
The Ethiopian slave trade, like other trade, was originally carried out mainly on the basis of barter, for example the exchange of slaves for guns, or with the help of amolé, or bars of rock salt. By the early 18th century increasing use was however also made of Maria Theresa thalers, or dollars. A slave-girl on the trade route to the port of Massawa is said to have exclaimed: “Is it this what serves to purchase children and men?”
Since the inquiry into child trafficking conducted so far in Ethiopia is inadequate, and because of the clandestine nature of the operation, it is difficult to put the exact figures of victims. That the network of child trafficking is too complicated within the country coupled with the inability of children to protest about the crime perpetrated against them and socities’ silence about what goes on right under their nose have kept the issue a secret for long.
Mahider Bitew, Children’s Rights and Protection expert at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, says that some isolated studies conducted in Diredawa, Shashemene, Awassa and three other towns of the country indicate that the problem of child trafficking is very serious. According to a 2003 study about one thousand children were trafficked via Diredawa to countries of the Middle East. The majority of those children were girls, most of whom were forced to be sex workers after leaving the country. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has identified prostitution as the worst form of child labor.
Published: March 24, 2019
For many years we have had an image of those Gentiles who stood at the intersection of Judaism and Greco-Roman piety in the classical world; they are called the "God-fearers". In 1962 the classicists' primary reference work, Pauly-Wissowa, distinguished God-fearers from proselytes (i.e., converts). The God-fearers are more numerous: "they frequent the services of the synagogue, they are monotheists in the biblical sense, and they participate in some of the ceremonial requirements of the Law, but they have not moved to full conversion to Judaism through circumcision. They are called... sebomenoi or phoboumenoi ton theon". The Encyclopedia Judaica in 1971 stated that "in the Diaspora there was an increasing number, perhaps millions by the first century, of sebomenoi, gentiles who had not gone the whole route towards conversion."
Published: December 1, 2018
German influence in the Pacific dates from the early 1860s when the Samoan-based form Godeffroy & Sons established trading posts in many parts of Polynesia and Micronesia. Contacts were intensified and extended to parts of Melanesia (mainly the Solomons and the Bismarck Archipelago) in the 1870s. Following the German unification in 1871, a number of areas were subsequently annexed as protectorates and colonies, including the Marshall Islands (1878), North East New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago (1884), the Marianas and the Carolines (1898), Kiautschou (1898) and Samoa (1899).
Published: May 5, 2018
In 1191 King Richard the Lioheart seized the Island of Cyprus from Greek governor, de facto independent ruler, Isaac Comnenus. Richard soon realized his inability to govern the island as part of his kingdom in England and France and made the strategic decision to sell the island to the Knights Templar for 100,000 gold bezants. It was a wise decision which financially helped Richard a great deal, enabled him to fully focus on struggle to regain the Holy Land and ensured that the island was left in hands of loyal Christians always prepared to help defending the Holy Land. It seemed like a perfect solution.
Published: May 1, 2018
When a relief party sent from England arrived at the Roanoke Colony on the East coast of the United States in 1590, they found the settlement neatly dismantled, and not a soul to be found. Some 115 men, women, and children had simply disappeared. The only clue was the name of a nearby island, Croatoan, carved into the trunk of a tree. And thus was launched one of history's great mysteries: The Lost Colony of Roanoke.
Published: April 21, 2018
At its fullest extent, the Roman Empire stretched from around modern-day Aswan, Egypt at its southernmost point to Great Britain in the north but the influence of the Roman Empire went far beyond even the borders of its provinces as a result of commerce and population movements. Contrary to popular belief which holds that the Sahara Desert was an impossible obstacle to trade prior to the Middle Ages, the Romans had a robust and dynamic network of connections to Sudanic and Sub-Saharan Africa. Slaves, gold, foodstuffs, and spices were transported from complex urban settlements on the Niger river, onwards to oasis cities in the Sahara, before finally reaching Rome’s bustling ports on the coast of North Africa. Going in the opposite direction, gemstones, textiles, and coins reached cities along the fertile banks of the Middle Niger.