Ana Joaquina Dos Santos: Meet the Most Successful Slave Trader in Angola in the 1830s

Ana Joaquina dos Santos y Silva also referred to as Dona Ana Mulata was female slave trader who was very active in the transatlantic slave trade business. She is perhaps the biggest female slave trader in Angola in the 1830’s.

Ana Joaquina dos Santos: The Biggest Slave Trader in Angola in the 1830s

Ana Joaquina dos Santos y Silva was Born in Luanda around 1788, to a Portuguese father Joaquim de Santa Ana Nobre dos Santos and an Afro-Portuguese mother Dona Tereza de Jesus. She was literate so she enjoyed a position and great prestige in the Angolan society in the mid-19th century.

Ana Joaquina dos Santos y Silva was a member of the privileged Afro-Portuguese class who had a leading position within the business community of Portuguese Luanda, where white Europeans consisted of a mere thousand people at the time.

Throughout her life, she married, successfully, first she married Colonel João Rodrigues, with whom she had a daughter, her second marriage was with the prosperous Portuguese businessman Joaquim Ferreira Santos Silva, with whom she shared the administration of his business and, after his death, assumed full control of his business.

Ana Joaquina dos Santos: The Biggest Slave Trader in Angola in the 1830s

She was one of the leading slave traders of the booming slave trade between Angola and the Empire of Brazil in the 1830s- and 40s. The slave trade was formally banned in 1836, but continued in practice in Angola, where the economy was dominated by it.

Dos Santos y Silva owned several plantations for sugar and coffee, and owned hundreds of slaves who worked those plantations. She also owned several slave ships that circulated from the ports of Luanda and Benguela to Baia, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, it’s believed that she also traveled as far as Uruguay and Portugal to supply the slave markets in Montevideo and Lisbon.

In 1843, she also worked with sertanejos and pombeiros in the capture of slaves in the interior, in partnership with Portuguese merchants.

Ana Joaquina Dos Santos: The Biggest Slave Trader in Angola in the 1830s
Ana Joaquina dos Santos owned a three stories palace residence in Luanda, which was later turned into a museum.

When Brazil banned slave trade in 1850 and the trade in black Africans was discontinued, she had established herself as a successful banker, investor and financier of merchants, authorities and transport business.

She died around 1859 while traveling to Portugal for medical treatment. With her death, a long dispute over her inheritance began, which she left to her two grandchildren, disinheriting her daughter, D. Thereza Luíza, who had married the brother of her enemy Augusto Garrido, without her consent. Given her skill with business and the possessions inherited from two marriages, D. Ana Joaquina remains in the memory of the population of Luanda as the most prosperous merchant of the 19th century.

Other female slave traders

Female Slave Traders: Meet Niara Bely, the African Queen Who Doubled as a Slave Trader in the 1800s

Madam Tinubu: Meet The Most Powerful Female Slave Trader in Yorubaland in the 19th Century

Uzonna Anele
Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.


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