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Indian Ocean Slavery in the Age of Abolition$
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Robert Harms, Bernard K Freamon, and David W. Blight

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300163872

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300163872.001.0001

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Deeds of Freed Slaves

Deeds of Freed Slaves

Manumission and Economic and Social Mobility in Pre-Abolition Zanzibar

Chapter:
(p.160) 9 Deeds of Freed Slaves
Source:
Indian Ocean Slavery in the Age of Abolition
Author(s):

Thomas F. McDow

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300163872.003.0009

This chapter examines the social and religious aspects of manumission in Zanzibar and the integral yet hidden role that freed slaves played in the economy. Slaves in the Indian Ocean World existed in hierarchies of dependency, and in Zanzibar in the early to mid-nineteenth century, freed slaves with influential former owners took on important roles in the economy. Focusing on Islamic manumission, the chapter points out that local manumission practices were invisible to outsiders because they were private acts. There were three primary influences on Islamic manumissions: Islamic piety, slave owners’ circumstances, and actions of slaves. The chapter then considers testamentary manumissions, manumissions granted at the end of Ramadan, and the problem of insincere manumissions. It concludes with an extensive discussion of the commercial activities of freed slaves in Zanzibar, as revealed in legal formulae in the deeds and records of Said bin Muhammad al-Aghbari, an important Omani governor.

Keywords:   Zanzibar, testamentary manumissions, Said bin Muhammad al-Aghbari, Islamic piety, freed slaves

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