Charles Martial [Cardinal]
Lettre de S. Em. le Cardinal Lavigerie sur l'esclavage africain à Messieurs les Directeurs de l’Œuvre de la Propagation de la Foi
Abolition Campaigns
Bibliothèque Nationale de France. British Library.
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Letter African Slavery Mission Catholic Church Evangelisation Anti-Slavery Crusade Map
This letter written by Lavigerie to a Catholic mission in subsaharan Africa, calls for collaboration between evangelisation and abolitionism in Africa. The two are seen by Lavigerie as closely interlinked: "missionaries cannot usefully evangelise in those vast regions overrun by slave traders" (1), and abolitionism could not act without European funding, often through the churches. The letter gives an overview of contemporary slavery in Africa, as Lavigerie calls on eye-witness accounts of European travellers and missionaries, including Livingstone, Stanley and Cameron, to confirm his description of an extensive slave trade in Sudan and throughout much of east and central Africa. Lavigerie compares the Indian ocean trade to the transatlantic trade, in order to draw attention to conditions on board the dhows. He also summarises the late nineteenth century abolitionist movement.
Two maps of Africa with the slave trading areas marked on them are attached as an appendix. The colour of the shading on the maps indicates the level of desolation caused by slave raids (see a similar map in Joseph Cooper's The Lost Continent, published in 1875). Lavigerie's letter was also published in the journal Missions Catholiques.