2.3c Summary, Ann O’Hear, review of Paul E. Lovejoy and Jan S. Hogendorn, Slow Death for Slavery: The Course of Abolition in Northern Nigeria, 1897-1936 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), in African Studies Review, vol. 38, no. 2 (September 1995): 162-164.
This is a major work, the first synthesis of the institution of slavery and its decline in the area of the Sokoto Caliphate. Taken together with the authors’ other publications, it provides a highly valuable, well-documented account of the institution up to 1936 (the formal end of slavery in Northern Nigeria).
Particularly interesting is the authors’ reconstruction of Frederick Lugard’s approach to his two main aims: to keep enough slaves in place long enough to avoid chaos; and to achieve the eventual death of slavery. The authors point out that while this was useful to the colonial government and slave owners, it was less so to the slaves. A major strength of this volume is its stress on the effects of the government’s actions on the slaves.
The topics discussed in this work include the size of the slave departures around the British conquest; “legal status” abolition; restriction of slaves’ mobility; the effects of self-redemption and the export trade; the role of taxation; and the lead-up to the 1936 Ordinance. The authors also look in detail at the continuance of concubinage. While there is little information on women in the records, they make excellent use of the data they have.
This work is of necessity incomplete. The authors suggest various directions for future research: more work on female slaves; developments in Borno and in the Caliphate outside the boundaries of Nigeria; slave ownership, child slaves and royal slaves; the continuance of slavery after 1936; and the legacy of slavery. A final important contribution of Lovejoy and Hogendorn’s work is its provision of a framework for the interpretation of provincial and local data.