1874 East African slave trade report 
1874 East African slave trade report 

Royal NavyEast Africa slave trade 1873

Rear-Admiral Cumming to the Secretary of the Admiralty

"Glasgow", at Trincomalee, July 1, 1874.


IN continuation of my Annual report on the Slave Trade, dated 7th March 1874, I have now the honour to make a statement, for their Lordships' information showing the practical results of the Treaty made in June, 1873, with the Sultan of Zanzibar, for the suppression thereof; and I am enabled the better to do so, as Captain Brine, of Her Majesty’s ship "Briton," has joined my flag, having been relieved by the "Thetis," as Senior Officer on the coast, and has given me most full information on the subject, both by despatches and by word of mouth.

2. During the slave-running season of March, April, and May, a most careful blockade of the coast of Africa, to the northward of Zanzibar, has been made by the "Briton," "Daphne," and "Vulture," assisted by their boats; and during the latter part of the season I stationed the "Philomel " and "Rifleman" on the north-west coast of Arabia, to search any dhows which might have escaped the vigilance of the ships in the south. But not one illegal trader has been found, though great numbers of dhows have been boarded; and from the reports I have received I learn that not the slightest sign of any attempt to convey slaves to the north was found, and I therefore consider that the effect of the late Treaty, as far as sea traffic in slaves is concerned, is most satisfactory.

3. But although the Traffic has been put down by sea, it has brought into existence a very great increased transport by land; and unless stringent and immediate measures are taken to stop this, our work by sea is practically thrown away. It is the general opinion that, if the traffic along the present road could be stopped, by establishing a blockade on the mainland at certain points opposite the Island of Zanzibar, the difficulties of making a pass further in the interior, both from the nature of the country and the hostility of the natives, would be a difficulty so insurmountable that the dealers would be forced to relinquish the trade of transport of slaves northward by land.

4. It has been pretty accurately ascertained that, since December last, nearly 12,000 slaves have been marched north by the land route, and but few, if any, have reached Arabia, and none have been shipped for the Persian Gulf. They have been supplied to the different places along the coast or islands, and many have gone to Somali Land, where there is at present a great demand for labour.

5. There is still undoubtedly a constant supply of slaves from the Portuguese Settlements in the Mozambique to the coast of Madagascar, and it is even supposed to be the intention of some of the Arab slave-dealers to attempt to run dhows from the north end of Madagascar direct to the Persian Gulf in large seaworthy vessels. To prevent this traffic great vigilance will be necessary, and I believe the proposal to station a British Consul at Mozambique would, if carried into effect, be most beneficial.

6. In addition to the above traffic there is still a smuggling trade carried on between the mainland and the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, the slaves being taken by twos and threes in small dhows and landed at various parts of the island.

7. The want of properly qualified interpreters is still much felt in carrying out the duties connected with the suppression of the Slave Trade. A record of the qualifications of all interpreters has been ordered to be kept, and a quarterly Return forwarded to the Senior Officer on the coast. If, in addition to this, their Lordships would be pleased to sanction the suggestions contained in the accompanying letter from Her Majesty’s Acting Political Agent at Zanzibar, and which have already been agreed to by the Indian Government, I am of opinion that a good staff of interpreters would soon be obtained. Until found thoroughly trustworthy, they should not be granted the higher rates of pay.

8. I inclose correspondence which has taken place between Captain Brine and the Acting Political Agent at Zanzibar on the subject of the disposal of slave dhows. I quite agree with Captain Prideaux that captured dhows and slaves should only be left in custody at the large ports of Lamoo and Melinda, and that also even then they should not be left in large numbers. I think some modification in the present instructions might be made to obviate the present necessity there is for ships or boats, immediately on making a small capture, to return to Zanzibar, provided the condition of the dhow does not justify the officer in charge in destroying her.

9. I have expressed to Captain Brine my great satisfaction at the manner in which he has conducted the blockade of the coast, and have desired him to convey to the officers my appreciation of the able and willing manner in which they have obeyed his orders; and I desire especially to bring to their Lordships' notice the conduct of the officers named in the accompanying letter from Captain Brine. I have also conveyed to the "Daphne " and "Vulture" my approval of their conduct in so ably carrying out their duties.

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