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Trading in Slaves in Bela-Shangul and Gumuz, Ethiopia: Border Enclaves in History, 1897-1938

Abdussamad H. Ahmad
The Journal of African History
Vol. 40, No. 3 (1999), pp. 433-446
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/183622
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Trading in Slaves in Bela-Shangul and Gumuz, Ethiopia: Border Enclaves in History, 1897-1938
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Abstract

Ethiopian imperial expansion and slavery accompanied one another through the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, contrary to imperial justifications based on the abolition of slavery or the state's legal obligations to oppose the slave trade and slavery. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Ethiopian empire incorporated the northwestern border enclaves of Bela-Shangul and Gumuz into greater Ethiopia. Having obtained the subordination of the local Muslim warlords, the emperor demanded tribute from them in slaves, ivory and gold. Slaves were used as domestics in the imperial palace at Addis Ababa and the houses of state dignitaries and as farm labor on their farms elsewhere in the country. Responding to the demands of the central government as well as to their own needs, borderland chiefs raided local villages and neighbouring chiefdoms for slaves. Expanding state control thus led to intensified slave raiding and the extension of the slave trade from the borderlands of the empire into its centre in spite of Ethiopia's legal commitment to oppose slavery and the slave trade as a member of the League of Nations. The end of slavery in Ethiopia only came in the aftermath of the Italian occupation in 1935.

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