RESISTANCE ON AFRICAN SOIL

The Tomba I created in AMA is a completely fictional character, though I did base his story in part on that of his illustrious namesake. MH

Link to information about the original Captain Tomba.

Hugh Thomas describes Tomba's case as ". . . a rare example of an African ruler seeking to prevent or at least to resist the slave trade;  but the alliance of a few villages formed by this individual - Tomba, a Baga - failed, and he was himself swept into slavery." (The Slave Trade, p. 339)

P. E. H. Hair thinks it unlikely that ". . . slaves ever condemned the institutions of enslavement in Africa (without abolitionist prompting); and also [that] the institutions were ever condemned within African communities." (The Atlantic Slave Trade and Black Africa)

Patrick Manning writes, " Slaves resisted their degradation not only morally, through religion, but physically. Free persons resisted capture. Those captured and shipped to the New World revolted with predictable regularity, and revolts of slaves in Africa took place wherever they were gathered in large numbers: for instance, a wave of slave revolts rippled along the West African coast in the 1850s . . ." and elsewhere, "I have chosen to focus on the negative, narrowing, and discouraging effects which slavery may have had on African thought. Perhaps there was another side as well. There must have been, among the slaves, valiant determination to defend their families, struggles to achieve some autonomy, or efforts to overcome on a spiritual plane the hopelessness of their material existence.  Still, I am left with the impression that they had to live each day as if it were their last."  (Slavery and African Life, Cambridge, 1990, 117, 125)

There seem to be few records of  slave revolts on African soil. That might be because there were few such revolts.  

There is of course, another possibility, that many revolts did occur and were never recorded, for oral history records the victories of kings, not the desperate acts of those deprived of their liberty.

There is at least one relevant piece of circumstantial evidence, the fact that on the way to the coast, the slaves were hobbled and shackled. The slavers' intention would certainly have been to prevent escape; but it might also have been to prevent revolt.

Paul Lovejoy mentions the Asante "government decision to shift slaves away from the capital territory after 1810 in order to avoid the dangers of slave uprisings." (Caravans of Kola: Hausa Kola Trade 1700-1900, OUP)

While it seems unlikely that historians will be able to discover much evidence of slave revolts within Africa,  slave revolts on board ship are another matter.

For more information attend the conference Fighting Back: African Strategies Against the Slave Trade.