Innlegg merkte med ‘slavery’

In a continuation of my post from yesterday, Travelling with loaded rifles, here is a new entry from Clayton’s diary. It is five days later, 15th of October 1925, and he is well settled in Ibn Saud’s camp that is situated right outside Mecca. Every evening he, his aide (George Antonius) and their personal bodyguard provided by Ibn Saud, takes a walk outside the camp to see the sunset. Here is Clayton’s description of the daily walk and their escort:

We usually start shortly before sunset, so as to get to some hill before the sun goes down. We then get a very delightful view, as the bare hills begin to take on a soft-purple light, and every night there is to the east over Mecca a great bank of cloud which reflects the setting sunlight and becomes a great welter of rosy flame. At the actual moment when the sun sets we always have to stop in order to allow our escort to say his prayers, which he does with great devotion and a lack of self-consciousness which Christians might well copy. He is a Sudanese slave, by the name Idris, who has been made specially responsible for our safety and who never leave us. He is always armed, sometimes with an Enfield rifle, sometimes with a curved sword in a heavily silver-mounted scabbard, sometimes with a heavy mace studded with nails, and occasionally with all three. He is a capital fellow. When I call «Ya Idris,» he always replies «Ay wallah» (Yes, by God). Then I tell him to do something or ask for something, to which he always replies by one of three ejaculations: «Inshallah» (God willing) or «Marhabba» (Everything is open to you) or «Ma yekhalif» (There is no objection).

– From An Arabian Diary by Gilbert Clayton


In Michael B. Oren’s newest book, Power, Faith and Fantasy – America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present, he quotes what Thomas Nicholson witnessed after he and 14 other American seamen had been enslaved by corsairs in the Mediterranean in February 1809. The corsairs had taken them back to Algiers where they had mistreated them badly and paraded them down the street and sold them as slaves at auction. Oren quotes Nicholsen’s description of what happened if anyone tried to escape:

After they had stripped the sufferer naked, they inserted the iron pointed stake into the lower termination of the vertebrae, and thence forced it up near his back bone, until it appeared between the shoulders, avoiding the vital parts. The stake was then raised in the air and the poor sufferer exposed to the view of other slaves, writhing in … insupportable agony.