Quite rightly, there’s a focus on Black Lives Matter after the appalling killing of George Floyd in America and the slave origins of many black people in the Americas. On July 2nd 2020, the BBC aired a documentary about the UK Slavery Abolition Act 1833 , which revealed that over 40,000 people that owned slaves mainly in the West Indies, claimed compensation for their “loss of property”. [see Britain’s Slave Owner Compensation Loan, reparations and tax havenry June 9th 2020]
Interesting that of the 40,000+ slave owners who claimed compensation most were men, some were women, and a few were ex-slaves-turned-slave owners. One reverend only had one slave but the one who owned the most was Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone.
In these relatively liberal times we have many perceived freedoms such as speech (but jail if you speak against the Queen – sedition), and employment, voting, home ownership and you can nearly live where you want given the funds. Hence it is ‘natural’ to be abhorred by the thought of innocent people being grabbed by pirates or traders and forcibly taken to another country and made to work without pay for the rest of your life. Worse, to be abused in many ways and have virtually no freedoms. Natural too, to focus on such slave abductions from West Africa to the Americas. It’s worth noting, however, that such slavery had been going on since – well, forever. The earliest writings from ancient Egypt, India, China and the Mayans and Aztecs (but not the Incas) indicate slavery was common.
I was shocked as any modern person when I discovered that 5,000 people were forcibly taken from their homes on Gozo by mercenary pirates in 1551 and sold into slavery in Tripoli and Constantinople. How many statues and monuments are there in those two cities commemorating slave owners from those days? I found that the Ottomans sailed as far away as Ireland and America for trade but also to grab unfortunate villagers as slaves. Yet, it was less shocking for those victims then as it is for us now. It was almost to be expected in those days. When Admiral Turgut Reis Dragut and Simon Pasha led the Ottoman forces against the Knights of Malta in 1565 during that famous siege. Dragut had been a galley slave himself in a Christian vessel. His opponent, Jean de Valette, Grand Master of the Knights of Malta was also a slave and rowed galleys for the Ottomans! It was as if you’d wake up any morning, stretch your arms and think, “I wonder if I’ll go back to this bed tonight, or end up as a prisoner to be sold today.”
It doesn’t make it any less horrific. Some of the weak and ill, very old and very young abductees from Gozo were thrown overboard on the way to Tripoli. Only the rich and well-connected were able to arrange their freedom to be bought. Most ended their days in harems or as working slaves on farms and galleys. I wonder though how many shrugged and just accepted this change knowing that another change could happen in the future?
My research into writing Xaghra’s Revenge based on the Gozo abduction, revealed that some might have accepted their fate but some were so incensed at being split from loved ones that they sought opportunities to escape and fight back. This is the story I chose to develop. If you’ve yet to read Xaghra’s Revenge then you can get it as a paperback or ebook from Amazon. This is the universal amazon ebook link but the paperback is on the same page.
facebook page https://www.facebook.com/xaghrasrevenge
Edit: by chance a Maltese newspaper ran a feature on Vallette this week
2003 first short of the decade was called 2020 Vision (ironic)
2003-05 ESCAPING REALITY http://hyperurl.co/nyjaiv
2005-08 EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEE http://hyperurl.co/du4s3h
2009 HOT AIR http://hyperurl.co/di4y0h
2009-12 ARIA LEFT LUGGAGE http://smarturl.it/1fexhs
2013 ARIA RETURNING LEFT LUGGAGE http://hyperurl.co/tgtid6
2014 ARIA ABANDON LUGGAGE http://hyperurl.co/26trxv
2014-17 XAGHRA’S REVENGE http://myBook.to/Xaghra
2018 INCREMENTAL http://mybook.to/Incremental inc 25 shorts
2019 SUPPOSE WE, https://mybook.to/SupposeWe
2019 FALLING UP https://mybook.to/FallingUP