Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Slavery by Any Other Name

Slavery by Any Other Name: African Life under Company Rule in Colonial Mozambique

Eric Allina
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 288
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Slavery by Any Other Name
    Book Description:

    Based on documents from a long-lost and unexplored colonial archive,Slavery by Any Other Nametells the story of how Portugal privatized part of its empire to the Mozambique Company. In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the company governed central Mozambique under a royal charter and built a vast forced labor regime camouflaged by the rhetoric of the civilizing mission.

    Oral testimonies from more than one hundred Mozambican elders provide a vital counterpoint to the perspectives of colonial officials detailed in the archival records of the Mozambique Company. Putting elders' voices into dialogue with officials' reports, Eric Allina reconstructs this modern form of slavery, explains the impact this coercive labor system had on Africans' lives, and describes strategies they used to mitigate or deflect its burdens. In analyzing Africans' responses to colonial oppression, Allina documents how some Africans succeeded in recovering degrees of sovereignty, not through resistance, but by placing increasing burdens on fellow Africans-a dynamic that paralleled developments throughout much of the continent.

    This volume also traces the international debate on slavery, labor, and colonialism that ebbed and flowed during the first several decades of the twentieth century, exploring a conversation that extended from the backwoods of the Mozambique-Zimbabwe borderlands to ministerial offices in Lisbon and London.Slavery by Any Other Namesituates this history of forced labor in colonial Africa within the broader and deeper history of empire, slavery, and abolition, showing how colonial rule in Africa simultaneously continued and transformed past forms of bondage.

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3275-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xvi)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Slavery has deep historical roots in african societies. Long before the seventeenth century, when Europeans began to buy vast numbers of slaves for their New World colonies, many Africans had been held as slaves, and countless others were sent in servitude across the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.¹ Enslavement of Africans by Africans was diverse, unlike the more uniform chattel bondage of the Caribbean and the Americas; some African-owned slaves were held as chattel, but many, possibly most, had meaningful, if limited, rights as members of their masters’ communities.² Slave-holding by European settlers in Africa began in the mid-seventeenth...

  5. 1 Ending Slavery and Creating Empire in Africa: From the “Indelible Stain” to the “Light of Civilization”
    (pp. 17-45)

    Portugal’s presence in southeast africa began with Vasco da Gama’s arrival on the east African coast in 1498, but conquest did not come until four centuries later, in the age of “high imperialism.” East Africa had not been da Gama’s destination; from the earliest voyages of the 1440s, Portugal’s goal was India and its access to great Asian wealth, above all, in the spice trade. Instead of India, da Gama sailed into a global network little known to Europe that linked the east African coast to the Middle East and, across the Indian Ocean, to South and Southeast Asia. Swahili...

  6. 2 From Law to Practice: “Certain Excesses of Severity”
    (pp. 46-71)

    Toward the end of may 1929, a mozambican named Massungue advised seven African contract laborers, most likely destined for assignment to Portuguese-run maize farms along the rail line through central Mozambique westward from the coast to then British-ruled Southern Rhodesia. Massungue told the men they could expect the “worst possible treatment” from the labor agent who had sought them out: he would “punish them violently with his own hands,” and the rations they would receive would be insufficient for nourishment. The agent, Massungue warned, “sold blacks as if they were chickens and goats.”¹

    The agent in question disputed these accusations,...

  7. 3 The Critiques and Defenses of Modern Slavery: From Without and Within, Above and Below
    (pp. 72-89)

    David livingstone took portugal to task, in the 1860s, for failing to eliminate slaving in the areas of Africa to which it laid claim. Had Portugal ever had “a vestige of desire to promote the amelioration of Africa”? He accused Portugal of being an “effete nation” engaged in the “murderous traffic in man.”¹ With the passage of the antislavery Brussels Act in 1890 and the resulting more effective coastal patrols, and with greater European control of African territory in the closing decade of the century, the number of slaves exported from Africa did drop, yet the colonial powers, especially Britain...

  8. 4 Mobility and Tactical Flight: Of Workers, Chiefs, and Villages
    (pp. 90-104)

    The gaza empire, founded by refugees from warring that followed the Zulu state’s expansionary conquest in present-day South Africa, occupied much of Mozambique south of the Zambezi River from the 1830s to 1895. Before Gaza was vanquished by Portugal, its soldiers made regular visits to villages in central Mozambique to demand tribute in animal skins, livestock, and, sometimes, people, usually conducting such raids during the dry season, when movement was easier and because, in the post-harvest period, people would be concentrated in their villages.¹ Raiding parties raised plumes of dust, advance signals to villagers in the higher-lying valleys, where lookout...

  9. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  10. 5 Targeting Chiefs: From “Fictitious Obedience” to “Extraordinary Political Disorder”
    (pp. 105-124)

    In august 1895, moribane, a chief whose lands lay in central Mozambique’s Manica Province, waited with trepidation the arrival of Ezequiel José Bettancourt, an emissary of the Mozambique Company, which was seeking to impose its authority on the African population.¹ As leader of large chiefdom in central Mozambique, and with authority over a sizable population, Moribane was a prime target. Moribane was aware the company governor, Joaquím José Machado, had dispatched Bettancourt to win obedient consent to pay tribute, and, like many other African rulers in their encounters with European colonizers, Moribane faced an impossible choice: submission or ruin. He...

  11. 6 Seniority and Subordination: Disciplining Youth and Controlling Women’s Labor
    (pp. 125-138)

    The mozambique company’s rule, as with colonial administrations elsewhere in Africa, introduced rigidly hierarchical lines of authority. It presupposed a one-way flow of power: from the top down. Under the pressure of the colonial regime of forced labor, power relations within African societies—between elders and juniors, between women and men—became more unbalanced.¹ People in relatively more secure positions were less subject to principles of reciprocity, based on norms of mutual obligation, and could at times ignore them with impunity.

    Although within African communities young people were expected to recognize the authority and status that came with age, nearly...

  12. 7 An “Absolute Freedom” Circumscribed and Circumvented: “Employers Chosen of Their Own Free Will”
    (pp. 139-157)

    Any african man between fifteen and sixty could, by law, avoid the Mozambique Company’s forced labor roundups if he found work on his own, practiced a recognized profession (for example, as a teacher or tailor), or cultivated land of a specified minimum area. Many men and older boys struggled to exercise their paper right to choose how to assign their labor power by finding wage work on their own terms before the press gangs arrived. But though the regulations of the Portuguese colonial ministry and the company governor declared that Africans had the “absolute freedom” to choose how to fulfill...

  13. 8 Upward Mobility: “Improvement of One’s Social Condition”
    (pp. 158-176)

    The imprint of salazarismo, the name by which dictator António Salazar’s ruling ideology became known, was evident as early as 1930, when he added the post of minister of the colonies to his powerful primary role as minister of finance. The Colonial Act of that year, the foundational document for his management of the empire, asserted that part of the “organic essence of the Portuguese nation in fulfilling its historic role is to occupy and colonize overseas domains and to civilize the populations there, exercising as well the moral influence to which it is linked by the inheritance of the...

  14. Conclusion: Forced Labor’s Legacy
    (pp. 177-184)

    The last of portugal’s royal companies, the Mozambique Company, had outlasted, by more than a decade, its chartered siblings elsewhere in Africa—of Portugal’s creation or otherwise—none of which had survived the 1920s. Company rule in Mozambique came to an end on 18 July 1942, with the end of its charter. Its central Mozambican concession reverted to direct administration by Portugal’s colonial ministry, a post previously held by Portugal’s dictator, António Salazar, who aimed to reduce and curb all autonomy in the colonies. Th e company’s territory became two provinces, Manica and Sofala, in the colony of Mozambique. The...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 185-228)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 229-242)
  17. Index
    (pp. 243-256)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 257-258)