Slavery in Seychelles

In 1770, some French settlers and 15 slaves established themselves on St. Anne and from then the settlement of the Seychelles started. Our Creole society grew out of slavery and colonization.

From 15 in 1770, the slave population of Seychelles increased to 221 in 1788, then 1820 in 1803 only four years later this figure jumped to 2,759 and by 1818 there were 6,638 slaves in Seychelles. By 1827 the slave population in Seychelles was down some 430 slaves, as a result of the competition between the Seychelles cotton industry which employed slave labour and the American cotton industry. This situation came about by the fact that the Mauritian sugar industry also made use of slave labour.


The slaves in Seychelles came from various parts of Africa, hence different ethnic groups or tribes. The majority, some 45 percent came from the Sister-Island of Madagascar, while another 40 percent came from East (mainly Mozambique) and Central Africa. They were scattered on Mahe, Praslin, La Digue, and the outlying islands like Poivre, Desroches, Marianne and the Amirantes.

Slaves were ill-treated by their owners and sometimes punishments were severe and inhuman. In certain instances slaves were sentenced to death for minor offences in particular when it came to disobeying their masters or marooning. One of the most famous marooning slaves is Castor.

Slavery was abolished in 1835 but that was effectively implemented only two years later.

Today there are places in Seychelles which bear testimony to slavery. ‘Roche Castor’ at Anse Aux Pins named after famous slave ‘Castor’ and was apparently used as a hide out by fugitive slaves. Mission Lodge is another historical place with links to slavery. It was there that the children of liberated slaves attended school. Other such land marks are Chateaux Mamelles.

Castor

There exists in the upper Anse Aux Pins, on Mahé, a place name Castor, a place with enormous boulders, better known as ‘cap de roches’ in Seychelles and to which access is extremely difficult. This name is linked with the history of maroons in Seychelles, as Castor was the name of a famous black maroon who took refuge in this place more than 150 years ago.

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