Slave Coffle, Central Africa, 1866

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This record was last updated on 06 Jun 2016

Image Reference

David Livingstone, The Last Journals of David Livingstone, in Central Africa, from 1865 to his death . . . by Horace Waller (London, 1874, p. 62; New York, 1875, facing p. 59).

Captioned, "Slavers Revenging their Losses," shows a coffle of men, women, and children, led by Arab slavers; one of the guards is murdering a captive unable to keep up with the rest. These people were taken across Central Africa to the east coast of Africa. The engravings in this book are based on, according to the editor, "rude sketches" made by Livingstone. On June 19, 1866, Livingstone wrote: "We passed a woman tied by the neck to a tree and dead, the people of the country explained that she had been unable to keep up with the other slaves in a gang, and her master had determined that she should not become the property of anyone else if she recovered after resting a time. . . . we saw others tied up in a similar manner . . . the Arab who owned these victims was enraged at losing his money by the slaves becoming unable to march, and vented his spleen by murdering them" (p. 56). This is one of the best known and frequently reproduced images in the literature on slaving in Africa. Also published in: J. E. Chambliss, "The Life and Labors of David Livingstone" (Philadelphia, 1875), p. 435; "The Life and African Explorations of Dr. David Livingstone" (St. Louis, 1874), p. 87; and in Thomas W. Knox, "The Boy Travellers on the Congo" (New York, 1888), p. 419 --with the caption "Slave Caravans on the Road"; Knox is sometimes erroneously given as the primary source.