Selim Aga

Selim Aga

Selim Aga (born around 1826 in Taqali area of Sudan, died December 1875 in Liberia), a native of Sudan who was abducted by slave traders when he was eight years of age, was brought to Scotland in 1836, and raised and educated as a free man. Selim wrote an autobiography of his life as a slave, accompanied by his poetic "Ode to Britain" and printed in Aberdeen in 1846. [Selim Aga] He regularly lectured in Great Britain on the African topics, and in 1857 left with William Balfour Baikie for an expedition of the Niger River. Later he accompanied John Hawley Glover and Richard Francis Burton on their African expeditions. In late 1860s Selim relocated to Liberia, probably aspiring for presidency; [McCarthy, 2007:6] he was killed by Grebo insurgents in 1875.

Childhood

Selim Aga, according to his own account, was born in Taqali valley controlled by a chief whose main possessions were the "three" wells. [Selim Aga, p. 14] The people of Taqali practised primitive agriculture and sheepherding, their faith combined Islam with pagan Sun worship. Selim, the oldest boy in the family, was prepared by the father to plow his own farmland; he was abducted by slaveholders when herding the livestock. He and his fellow prisoners were forced to march away from Taqali, relayed between numerous Sudanese, Arab and Turkish gangs of slaveholders. After six months' service to one exceptionally vicious slaveholder, Selim was taken over by a new owner (his seventh) who set up a caravan heading to Dongola. [Selim Aga, p. 27] After a brief stay there, Selim was sold again; he ended up on a slave market in Cairo. His ninth master was an European (identified as "Mr. P" in Selim's book); his tenth was Robert Thurburn ("Mr. R. T."), British consul in Alexandria. [Selim Aga, p. 34] The new owners taught Selim basic English, took him on a tour of the Cataracts of the Nile, and then prepared for the journey to Britain via Malta, Messina, Naples and the land route to Dover Strait.

Scotland and London

Selim was placed in the custody of consul Thurburn's brother John in Peterculter near Aberdeen, baptised,MacCarthy, 2007:4] educated at home and in a local school. In 1846 he published autobiographical "Incidents Connected with the Life of Selim Aga", written in "faultless idiomatic English";McCarthy, 2007:1] it was reissued in 1850. In 1875, the year of Selim's death, his memoirs published in the Geographical Magazine stirred up the public who did not believe that the book was written by an African and not an educated British gentleman. Richard Francis Burton came to his former steward's defence, confirming that Selim was, in fact, an African educated in Scotland, and capable of "... briefly anything... he took all the trouble of life off my hands."McCarthy, 2007:2]

His life between 1846 and 1857 remains scarcely documented, but it is known that he fathered at least one son with a local women. Selim's living descendants from this affair have been traced in Scotland and the United States.McCarthy, 2007:1] After leaving the Peterculter home in 1846 Selim resurfaced as a lecturer on the "Panorama of the Nile" at the Great Exhibition of 1851; he petitioned Lord Palmerston for "Amelioration of Africa", promoted an idea of a trans-African east-west railroad to facilitate commerce, and was given an audience at the Foreign Office.McCarthy, 2007:2]

African expeditions

In 1857 Selim Aga sailed with William Balfour Baikie on an expedition up the Niger River; he was placed under command of lietenant John Hawley Glover and accompanied the latter on a dangerous journey to Lagos to help the survivors of a shipwreck. He attempted to lead a search-and-rescue for the vanished expedition led by Eduard Vogel, but was superseded by Baikie.McCarthy, 2007:5] Since 1860 Selim Aga was in the service of Richard Francis Burton, who regularly praised Selim's assistance and experience.

Death

Selim Aga spent at least nine last years of his life, 1866–1875, in Liberia. He was engaged in searching for mineral resources, surveying the previously unknown Cavallo River valley. McCarthy, 2007:6] Selim's arrival in Liberia coincided with the beginning of clashes between inland native Africans and the coastal immigrants from the United States. In 1871 secretary of state, Edward Wilmot Blyden, was forced into exile; president, Edward James Roye, was deposed by the mob. Selim was murdered four years later, at a time when he served as an assistant surgeon and was not involved in active politics. According to an obituary published in "Liberian Independent" December 23, 1875, the Grebo mob leader allowed him time for a Christian prayer, then "chopped his body all over, cut off his head, which he took to his town, and threw the body with a gift [of a Bible] into the field." [Despite this account, biographers of Burton present Selim Aga as a Muslim, e.g. Dane Kennedy (2003) "The Highly Civilized Man: Richard Burton and the Victorian World". Harvard University Press, ISBN 0674018621, 9780674018624, p. 157]

References

*
*
*
*

Notes


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно сделать НИР?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Selim — Arabic Salim (Turkish Selim) a given name meaning Peace, Safe or Healthy (see S L M).Selim is similar to the boy s name, Salem, which is of Hebrew origin, and also means peace. It is related to Shalom and Solomon. In the U.S. there is Salem,… …   Wikipedia

  • Selim III — (Ottoman Turkish: سليم ثالث Selīm i sālis ) (December 24, 1761 ndash; July 28/29, 1808) was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1789 to 1807. He was a son of Mustafa III (1757 ndash;74) and succeeded his uncle Abdülhamid I (1774 ndash;89).… …   Wikipedia

  • Mehmed Selim Pasha — This article is about Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed Selim Pasha. For Benderli Ali Pasha Pasha, see Benderli Ali Pasha. Mehmed Selim Pasha or Mehmed Selim Sırrı Pasha (1771 Bender, Moldova – 1831 Damascus, Ottoman Empire, nickname:… …   Wikipedia

  • Captain Michalis — Infobox Book name = Freedom or Death title orig = Captain Michalis (Καπετάν Μιχάλης) translator = Jonathan Griffin image caption = Cover of the second edition in Greek, Athens 1955 author = Nikos Kazantzakis illustrator = cover artist = country …   Wikipedia

  • On the Brink of Paradise — Directed by Josef Stein Produced by Marie Luise Droop Fritz Knevels Written by Erwin Baron Marie Luise Droop Karl May Starring …   Wikipedia

  • Auf den Trümmern des Paradieses — Filmdaten Originaltitel Auf den Trümmern des Paradieses Produktionsland Deutschland …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Auf den Trümmern des Paradieses (1920) — Filmdaten Originaltitel: Auf den Trümmern des Paradieses Produktionsland: Deutschland Erscheinungsjahr: 1920 Originalsprache: Deutsch Stab Regie …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Türkisches Reich [2] — Türkisches Reich (Gesch.). Das jetzt schlechtweg Türken, eigentlich Osmanen genannte Volk ist blos ein Zweig des großen Volksstammes der Türken (s.d.). Diese kommen bereits bei Plinius u. Mela als Turcä vor u. wohnten damals in Sarmatien in den… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Palais de Topkapi — Palais de Topkapı Pour les articles homonymes, voir Topkapi. 41° 00′ 47″ N 28° 59′ 02″ E …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Palais de Topkapı — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Topkapi. Palais de Topkapı, Première Cour, 1584 Le palais de Topkapı (en turc Topkapı Sarayı …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”