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Book Chapters 

"1719-1724: Maroons and Marronage" in Four Hundred Souls

Edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

(One World, 2021)


"On July 16, 1720, the Ruby landed in Louisiana. After fifty-four days at sea, 127 men, women, and children from Senegal and Gambia disembarked.

Naturalist Antoine Le Page du Pratz received "two good ones, which had fallen to me by lot. One was a young Negro about twenty, with his wife of the same age." After six months, the couple ran away. Native Americans captured them sixty miles away, and soon the hus- band "died of a defluxion on the breast, which he catched [sic] by running away into the woods."

To Du Pratz, the couple had run away because they were lazy. The man's "youth and want of experience made him believe he might live without the toils of slavery," he said. In fact, the young Senegambians had chosen marronage over enslavement—emblematic of the fierce African resistance of the early 1700s.

Between 1700 and 1724, marronage, revolts, and more than fifty insurrections aboard slave ships caused much alarm throughout the British colonies. In the thirteen North American colonies, maroons— "runaways who hid[e] and lurk in obscure places," also called outliers— drew attention for the potential threat they posed."

"Africans in India" in African Rulers and Generals in India

Edited by  Omar H. Ali, Kenneth X. Robbins, Beheroze Schroff, and Jazmin Graves

(UNC Greensboro, 2020)


"As a historian of the African Diaspora I decided, a few years ago, that it was time for the national and international audiences that regularly visit the digital exhibitions I curated at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of The New York Public Library to be presented with a more expansive view of the global black experience. The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean World was thus conceived to further develop people's knowledge of the diversity of the African experience, far from the Atlantic world, into a world that few in the West think of when they envision the African Diaspora. This exhibition covers eighteen countries in East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Persian Gulf, South Asia, the Far East, and the Middle East in brilliant essays by Dr. Omar H. Ali, as well as images, photos, maps, and videos.

Following this first foray into the Indian Ocean world, the distinctive story of the high-ranking Africans of India led to another exhibition which I curated with Dr. Kenneth X. Robbins. Chronicling the story of some of the people who entered the Indian subcontinent for the most part empty handed, not knowing the languages, the cultures, the politics but were chosen or imposed themselves as high-ranking dignitaries, notables and rulers."


 "Borderland Maroons" in Fugitive Slaves and Spaces of Freedom in North America
Edited by Damian Alan Pargas

(University Press of Florida, 2018)


"John Sally "runned away an' didn' never come back. Didn' go no place either. Stayed right 'roun' de plantation." Like Sally, most maroons did not look for freedom in remote locations; instead they settled close to the farms and plantations. If not caught by men and dogs, and depending on their health, their survival skills, and their families' and friends' level of involvement, they could live there for years. These men and women have become the most invisible maroons although their (white and black) contemporaries were well aware of their existence.

As is true for most maroons their lives have remained partially unknown but several individuals who later got out of the South, or had loved ones who went to the woods, described that experience in autobiographies and memoirs. In addition, detailed and intimate information about their existence can be found in the recollections of the formerly enslaved men and women gathered by the Works Progress Administration. Some were former maroons themselves, others were their kin, acquaintances, and protectors.

Pieced together these stories offer a striking portrait of a unique population and delineate how and why one became a borderland maroon; who the men, women, and children who settled by the plantations were; and what skills they needed to master in order to survive in the woods."


""God Does Not Allow Kings to Enslave Their People": Islamic Reformists and the Transatlantic Slave Trade" in A Muslim American Slave: The Life of Omar ibn Said

Edited by Ala Alryyes

(Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2011)


 "Then there came to our country a big army. It killed many people. It took me and walked me to the big Sea, and sold me into the hands of a Christian man." If quite succinctly, Omar ibn Said described vividly one of the main events that took place in 1807 in Futa Toro in northern Senegal. In April, the "big army" of the Bambara kingdom of Kaarta made of "infidels," as Omar mentioned at the end of his manuscript, marched over parts of the Islamic state of Futa Toro. Abdel Kader Kane, its founder and almamy was killed, as were many men, while others were made prisoners. Among them, it seems, was Omar, witness of and probable participant – he mentioned he went to war repeatedly against the "infidels"—to one of the most emblematic in the succession of Islamic movements that swept Senegambia from the end of the seventeenth century to the end of the nineteenth century, and central Sudan in the nineteenth century. The old aristocracies, the European powers, the warrior elite, the clerical class, and the peasant masses saw their fates intertwined and as a result, following each successful or failed movement, cohorts of Muslims whom the reformists had sought to protect were made prisoners and spent the rest of their lives enslaved in the Americas. "


"African Muslims in Bondage: Realities, Memories, and Legacies" in Monuments of the Black Atlantic: Slavery and Memory

Edited by Joanne M. Braxton and Maria I. Diedrich

(Hamburg: Lit Verlag, 2004)


"By the end of slavery in the late 1880s, close to four hundred years of continuous Muslim presence had left its mark on the religions and cultures of the American continents. At the time, Islam had been present in West Africa for nine hundred years, but it is in the Americas that the religion touched the most diverse populations. Muslims and non-Muslims from a wide area of Western and Central Africa came into close contact in the slave quarters. Populations from the Congo/Angola area, for example, who had not had any acquaintance with Islam in Africa would become familiar in America -- even if only in a superficial way-- with at least some aspects of the religion and its Arabic vocabulary." 

"The West African Paradox" in Muslims' Place in the American Public Square: Hopes, Fears, and Aspirations

Edite by Zahid Bukhari, Sulayman Nyang, Mumtaz Ahmad, John Esposito

(Altamira Press, 2004)


"For more than three hundred years, West Africans represented 100 per cent of the Muslims living in the Americas. Men, women and children from Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria practiced their faith under the most brutal type of servitude. In the United States, their highly visible presence has been seen, heard, written about, and remembered from the early 1700s to the 1940s. But paradoxically, the general public and academia soon forgot them, and few contemporary Americans are aware of their story and contributions.
Today, sub-Saharan Africans, including East Africans, have become a small minority. According to the American Muslim Poll conducted in 2001, they represent 7 percent of the approximately 6 million Muslims living in the United States. Their modest size notwithstanding, they are a steadfastly growing and dynamic group that, within a few years, has had a visible impact on the American public square. In fact, more Africans and perhaps twice as many Muslims arrived in the United States within the past 40 years than during the entire era of the slave trade. "


"Devils or Sorcerers, Muslims or Studs: Manding in the Americas" in Trans-Atlantic Dimensions of Ethnicity in the African Diaspora

Edited by Paul E. Lovejoy and David Trotman

(London: Continuum, 2003)


"Perhaps more than any other African population, the Manding have entered the collective consciousness of the American peoples. From Chile to Cuba, and from Brazil to the United States, the words Mandingo and Mandinga have conjured up strong images, many of which continue to persist. These perceptions of the Manding and of their supposed ethnic qualities and flaws are abundantly mentioned in the literature on slavery that spans memoirs, chronicles, articles, court and plantation records, and fugitive ads among other texts. As is true of other African populations, there is no shortage of contradictory notions concerning their "character." But their own assessment of who they were is poorly documented. This paper analyses the constructions of Manding ethnicity and identity in the Americas through the perceptions of others and through their own words and actions. It seeks to uncover the ethnic reality of the terms Mandingo/Mandinga, and to explain why the Manding were viewed in manners varying widely with time and space." 


"Invisible Muslims: The Sahelians in France" in Muslim Minorities in the West: Visible and Invisible

Edited by Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad and Jane I. Smith

(Altamira Press, 2002)


 "Although Islam is the second religion in France, and Muslims are increasingly evident in the public square, one sector of the Muslim population has remained virtually invisible. Paradoxically, this community, which is made up mostly of Sahelians (Senegalese, Malians, and Mauritanians), enjoys a highly visible presence even though it is not recognized as a Muslim presence. 
Sahelians are almost never mentioned when French authorities, media experts or academicians ponder about the "Islamic presence," "What Islam for France?"or the "Muslim community." One may argue that their numbers, when compared with the Maghrebis, are low and that their relative invisibility can be explained by demography. The real reason, however, may rather be that in France, as is true more generally in Europe, Islam is viewed primarily as a (dangerous) problem. 
Sub-Saharan Muslims, however, have never been identified with terrorism or fundamentalism at home or in Europe. Unlike other Muslims in France they are not considered to be a violent threat to secularism, social peace and French culture. Insofar as they are not seen as part of "the Islamic problem," they also tend not to be thought of as part of the "Islamic community" either. Sahelian Muslims are not perceived by French society as Muslims but simply as Africans."