- MAY ALLEN AND
that so little is known about the East African
EAST AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE'
Slave trade ... makes it such a fascinating subject
- - With
a name like Yoland, living in Ruyton XI Towns and having spent much of
my childhood in Zanzibar, the letters X Y and Z have a habit of
`jumping out` of any printed page.
when I was leafing through an 1875 copy of Eddowes Journal,
one of Shrews- bury`s oldest news-papers, I was amazed to
find a letter from May Allen in Zanzibar!
hours and weeks later, I had collected 67 of May's letters
grown up surrounded by the large family of Archdeacon John
Allen, vicar of Prees in north Shropshire, May studied
nursing and in 1875, at the age of 40, asked her father if
she might go to Africa with the Universities Mission to
is to John Allen`s eternal credit that having, against his
wishes, reluctantly given May his blessing on her chosen
career to be a missionary, he then put his whole heart and
soul into helping the cause in every way he possibly could.
- - 'Zanzibar
Allen and the East African
Slave Trade' by Yoland Brown.
May 1881 he wrote to his daughter in Zanzibar:
"I am greatly thankful that you went out though I much dislike
the idea of your going.
I had little idea of how God in his great mercy would bless your work.
going out has certainly stirred me up to do more in speaking for
the 28th October 1875 May and her family were in Lichfield at the
invitation of Bishop Selwyn, who had himself spent many years as the
missionary Bishop of New Zealand and Melanesia.
received communion and the Bishop`s blessing for her journey and the
work she would be doing with the mission.
few days later she sailed on the `Punjab` with her hand picked
nurses, Sophia Jones and Emma Durham.
travelling to the Zanzibar Mission on the same ship were Herbert
Clarke, a solicitor, and Owen Phillips, a layman.
12th December the `Punjab` arrived in Zanzibar and the
following day May sat down to write her first letter home, reassuring
the family back in Prees she was settling into her exotic new home.
Archdeacon sent this first letter to the Eddowes Journal, the leading
Shropshire news-paper of the day and it appeared on 19th January 1876.
the next six years, May's accounts of her work and the doings of the
missionaries of the UMCA in East Central Africa were printed in the
Journal, thus keeping the mission field constantly in the minds of its
regular news was backed up by the Archdeacon's public speaking on the
work of the mission.
travelled the country, "many pulpits were open to him and many
subscriptions and donations were won by his energy.
more publicity we can
give", he said, "to the history and the aims of missionary
enterprise the better for the world".
as this correspondence is, it would not make a book and it took a very
short time to realise that a great deal of background information
would be required to give a full picture of the island of Zanzibar and
the story of slavery on the east
side of Africa.
DR. LIVINGSTONE'S EARLY TRAVELS
fact what was needed was the history of this very special island -
which is inextricably bound up with the Arab country of Oman and the
East African coast from Somalia to the delta of the river Rovuma - the
history of the East African slave trade and the story of the formation
of the Universities Mission to Central Africa - which of necessity
includes something of Livingstone's early travels.
fact that so little is known about the East African Slave trade makes
it such a fascinating subject:
are not talking about the Atlantic Triangle with black bodies in 18
inch layers in the hold of a European ship.
was more a supply of seamen to man the trading dhows which criss-crossed
the Indian ocean, agricultural workers for the date plantations of
Oman and pretty girls (and boys) to pleasure the men (and women) of
all the Arab and Persian countries from Oman to Turkey.
least that was the case until the Europeans arrived on the scene,
bringing with them vastly increased demand, debatably more cruelty,
followed by the often misguided and badly thought out anti-slavery
treaties of the British.
Allen was one of a dedicated congregation, and in her case also highly
educated and talented, missionaries who set off across the world to
'save' the ignorant savage for God.