Slavery in Seychelles
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Abolition of slavery in Seychelles was a gradual process that became increasingly powerful in the early nineteenth century and finalized in 1835.
Slaves in the Seychelles were placed in four broad categories. Firstly there were the Creoles (the largest group), those of mixed African and European blood who were brought from Mauritius and had children born on the island; they were often regarded as superior in intellect. The second group were the Malagaches from Madagascar, peoples noted for their pride in hard work, particularly on the plantations or in the carpentry trade or as blacksmiths.
The third group was a small minority of Indian and Malays known as Malabars, usually trained as domestic servants and the fourth and largest group was the Mozambiques, brought from the country by boat to work on the plantations. They were widely seen as inferior to the others slaves in the islands, and reports of their preference of working completely naked, and inability to learn local customs saw them named as Mazambik in Kreol, which today is used as an insult for barbarity or imbecility.
The Anti-Slavery movement in Seychelles led by William Wilberforce grew in power in the early 19th century. Even though slave trading by this time has been outlawed, settlers in Seychelles were permitted slaves and eventually the number of slaves outnumbered white settlers by ten to one. An 1827 census in Seychelles revealed that the population consisted of 6,638 slaves and only 685 "masters" or those who were free. Slavery was finally abolished in 1835. The civil administrator at the time, Mylius recalled that on Emancipation Day on February 11 the freed slaves responded with "peaceable demonstrations of joy".
The slave owners, particularly the plantation owners expressed a degree of contempt for the new law, asking Mylius to impose a poll tax which would require the slaves to work to raise money to pay it. As a result, the moitie system was implemented, a system where workers were allocated land to farm in return for three days of solid work a week. Labor conditions in Seychelles were particularly uneasy following the abolition of slavery but by the late 1840s, ships filled with hundreds of liberated Africans freed by Arabic slave traders in Zanzibar saw a major migration to Seychelles to fill in the labor market. Many of the migrants began work on coconut plantations.
- Carpin, Sarah, Seychelles, Odyssey Guides, p.31, 1998, The Guidebook Company Limited, Retrieved on June 4, 2008