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Slow Death for Slavery


  • Page extent: 411 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.732 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 326/.09669/5
  • Dewey version: 20
  • LC Classification: HT1334.N6 L68 1993
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Slavery--Nigeria, Northern--History--20th century
    • Slaves--Emancipation--Nigeria, Northern--History--20th century

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521374699 | ISBN-10: 0521374693)

Replaced by 9780521447027


This book examines the decline of slavery in Northern Nigeria during the first forty years of colonial rule. At the time of the British conquest, the Sokoto Caliphate was one of the largest slave societies in modern history. Rather than emancipate slaves, the colonial state abolished the legal status of slavery, encouraging them to buy their freedom. Many were unable to do so, and slavery was not finally abolished until l936. The authors have written a provocative book, raising doubts over the moral legitimacy of both the Sokoto Caliphate and the colonial state.


List of maps; List of tables; Preface; 1. Slavery and the British conquest of Northern Nigeria; 2. Fugitive slaves and the crisis in slavery policy; 3. The debate on legal-status abolition; 4. Emancipation and the law; 5. Upholding proprietary rights to land; 6. The role of taxation in the reform of slavery; 7. The colonial economy and the slaves; 8. The persistence of concubinage; 9. Legal-status abolition: the final phase; Appendix; Notes; Glossary; Bibliography; Index.

Prize Winner

the 1993 Wallace K. Ferguson Prize of the Canadian Historical Association, Choice Outstanding Academic Books, 1995


"This volume presents a wealth of meticulous research in order to readjust the commonly accepted textbook view that Britain was the major actor in the abolition of slavery in modern times. In carefully constructed and supported arguments that proceed clearly and logically from chapter to chapter, the authors establish that offical British policy in its portions of the former Sokoto Caliphate in northern Nigeria successfully and deliberately maintained the institution of slavery from the early days of military conquest in 1897 until 1936." International Journal of African Historical Studies

"This is a major work of synthesis, being the culmination of the research the authors have conducted since the 1970s on slavery and its decline in Northern Nigeria. It is essential reading for all those interested in the politics and sctivities of colonial (and other) governments with respect to slavery and its abolition." African Studies Review

"The first book-length study of the Sokoto Caliphate of northern Nigeria, the largest slave society in colonial Africa. Based on 20 years of research, including a collection of oral histories from ex-slaves, the study focuses on the survival of a slave system into the modern world....The work is based on a massive collection of economic data and enhanced by an appendix summarizing the characteristics of the 102,000 slaves who purchased their freedom." Choice

"In this amply documented volume, Paul E. Lovejoy and Jan S. Hogendorn have gone behind the published and often-cited memos of Lord Lugard, founder of Northern Nigeria, to explore the reality of slavery under colonial rule....Theirs is the most detailed and thoughtful analysis to date of slavery and concubinage in Africa; their framework and the priority they attribute to the issue may well be applicable, with some adjustment for racial distinctions, to slave societies in the Americas. The rich narrative, based on ample resources in archives and in oral testimony, reflects an effective collaboration of the authors in research and is hard to imagine a more comprehensive first effort to address this vast topic." Patrick Manning, American Historical Review

"The abolition of slavery in west Africa was a largely neglected topic until these authors, well known for previous studies of slavery and the slave trade in Africa, began studying it in the 1970s. This throrough and scholarly work presents their findings, which are of interest not only for historians of Africa, but also for those concerned with comparative and world history....Their mastery of the range of original materials has enabled them authoritatively to lay out the political, economic, legal, and social dimensions of their subject and to integrate these dimensions effectively....An impressive example of historical scholarship, Slow Death for Slavery can be considered essential reading for anyone working on west African social and political history in the modern period. It can also be confidently expected to become and long to remain a standard reference in the literature on European colonialism and its impact." Gregory Blue, Journal of World History

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