Captain Tomba, the African Chief Who Was Sold Into Slavery for Refusing to Participate in Slave Trade

Captain Tomba was an 18th century Sierra Leonean chief who was captured by Europeans and sold into slavery for refusing to participate in the transatlantic slave trade.

Captain Tomba, the African Chief Who Was Sold Into Slavery for Refusing to Participate in Slave Trade

While it is true that some Africans, lured by the promise of weaponry by European slavers, sold their countrymen to Europeans, many Africans like Captain Tomba loathed the transatlantic slave trade business and forbade his subjects to take part in it.

Captain Tomba refused to work with European slave traders and also punished those under his rule who worked with them.

Due to his refusal to bend his principles and his unflinching loyalty to his people, Captain Tomba was captured by Europeans – who likely had help from rival villages – and kept in a slave camp. John Atkins, a surgeon who saw him there, said he was a handsome man “who scorned looking at us, refusing to rise or stretch out his Limbs, as the Master Commanded.”

Captain Tomba was later sold to Captain Richard Harding in the year 1721 and marched aboard a grossly overcrowded sailing ship manned by crews mostly from Europe.

Captain Tomba

A few days later, Captain Tomba and two other companion led a revolt on the slave ship and killed three white sailors. They were eventually subdued by other sailors, beaten to the deck and placed in chains.

In retaliation, the Captain of the ship, harding, — who feared that killing a chief may lead to a much larger unrest on his ship — killed three enslaved people but spared the life of Tomba.

Captain Tomba survived the trip across the Atlantic Ocean and was sold in Kingston, Jamaica, along with 189 people and that was the last anyone heard of him.

Mr Madu
Mr Madu is a freelance writer, a lover of Africa and a frequent hiker who loves long, vigorous walks, usually on hills or mountains.

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