The Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery, housed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York City, collaborated with the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center of Scholars and Writers, The New York Public Library (NYPL) to present this program.Visit www.lapiduscenter.org and click on “Past Programs” to view this enlightening conversation about aspects of Islam in West Africa that impacted the lives of enslaved Africans in the Americas.
European Powers, Islamic Movements, and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
In the 18th century, Senegambia was bitterly contested for slave-trading purposes by France and Great Britain. But a third power, the Islamic theocracy of Futa Toro on the Senegal River, rose to prominence and opposed both foreign powers while seeking to put an end to the transatlantic slave trade and slavery.
A full Berger Forum welcomed Christopher L. Brown, Professor of History and Vice-Provost for Faculty Affairs at Columbia University and a member of the Lapidus Center Council of Advisors, and Rudolph Ware, Associate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. They engaged in a fascinating conversation about Ware’s book The Walking Qur’an: Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge, and History in West Africa.
Among other compelling topics, Ware discussed the fierce resistance to the enslavement and deportation to the Americas of the so-called “Walking Qur’an”, the memorizers of the Holy Book; and how the Almamy –the Muslim ruler– Abdul Kader Kane of Futa Toro preceded Western abolitionists in his efforts to end the slave trade and slavery, and was acknowledged as a pioneer in that regard by British abolitionist Thomas Clarkson.