African Slaves Who Became Royals of Foreign States  


Slavery is the most inhumane act that our ancestors underwent during their time. Foreigners took Africans from West and Central Africa to foreign regions to work in foreigners’ plantations under harsh conditions. No African was an exception to slavery. Some were royals but ended up being victims of the Atlantic slave trade. Some of these royal people who ended up in rags are Prince Abdulrahman Ibrahim ibn Sori, Princess Anta Ndiaye, William Ansah, Takyi, and Ganga Zumba. Some were slaves but ended up in royalty or richness. An example is Malik Ambar, who became a military head in a foreign nation (India).

This article will look at more examples of enslaved Africans who became royals of foreign nations. Enslaved Africans whom either the royal family members of foreign countries took care of or became part of the royal families themselves. Of course, this article may create a perception of the celebration of our enslaved Africans who ended up being successful in other lands. However, for clarity, this piece of work tries to convey the message that no matter where one is and no matter the condition or circumstance he or she is at, anyone can be successful at anything anytime. Here are incredible examples of enslaved Africans who became elites of foreign nations.

Omoba Aina    

Omoba Aina is also called Sara Forbes Bonetta. She was born in the 19th century (1843) in Oke-Odan, a village in Egbado. Sara Forbes was an Egbado princess of the Yoruba ethnic group in the Western region of Africa. During a fight with the nearby Empire of Dahomey, she became parentless and later became the ordinary slave of King Ghezo of the Dahomey Empire at a young age (five years). Captain Frederick Forbes of the British Royal Navy freed her from slavery, and later she became a goddaughter to Queen Victoria. Omoba Aina was engaged to Captain James Pinson Davies, a wealthy Lagos philanthropist, at St Nicholas Church in Brighton in August 1862.


Her Early Life, Death, and Legacy

After the capture of Omoba Aina and ending up as a slave in the court of King Ghezo, Captain Frederick arrived at the Dahomey Empire on a diplomatic job to discuss an end to Dahomey’s involvement in the Atlantic slave trade after two years. King Ghezo disagreed with ending Dahomey’s slave trade and offered Omoba Aina as a present. Captain Frederick Forbes accepted Omoba on behalf of Queen Victoria and returned to Britain’s land, with the British authority’s arrangements to be accountable for her care. That is the time Omoba Aina got the name Sara Forbes Bonetta from Captain Forbes, after his vessel HMS Bonetta.

In 1851, Bonetta developed a bad cough that might have a connection to the climate or weather of Great Britain. Her guardians took her to school on the African continent in May of 1851, when she was only eight years old. She went to the AWMS in Freetown (Sierra Leone) AWMS stands for Annie Walsh Memorial School.

The Church Missionary Society, CMS, established the learning institution in January 1849 as a facility for young girls and ladies who were relatives of the boys in the Sierra Leone Grammar school that came into existence in 1845. In the school list, her name appears as Sally Bonetta, pupil number twenty-four.

After Captain Davies and Omoba Aina’s wedding, the two moved back to the African continent, where they had three kids. These children were Victoria Davies, Arthur Davies, and Stella Davies. Sara Forbes continued to have a very close association with Queen Victoria. Sarah Forbes named Victoria Matilda Davies, her 1st daughter, after Queen Victoria. Matilda Davies got engaged to Dr. John Randle, a successful Lagos doctor, and was also the stepmom of his son, J.K. Randle, a businessman in Nigeria and a socialite. Stella Davies, the 2nd daughter of Sara -Bonetta and Herbert Macaulay, Samuel Ajayi Crowther’s grandson, had a child (daughter) together – Sarah Abigail Idowu Adadevoh (named after her maternal grandma Sara and her paternal grandma Abigail).

Sara Forbes died of TB on August 15th, 1880, in the Funchal city, the capital of Madeira Island, a Portuguese island in the Atlantic Ocean. Captain Davies set up a monument over 8 ft tall in his wife Sara Bonetta’s memory at Ijon in Lagos’s western side, where he had begun a cocoa plantation. Her grave number is 206 in the British Cemetery of Funchal, close to the Anglican Trinity Church.

August Sabac el Cher

August el Cher was an Afro-German who had one descendant in 21st century Germany. August was a gift to Prince Albert as a boy in the 19th century (1843) when the prince was in Egypt’s land. August married a white woman. Gustav, his offspring, became a great soldier and a grand bandmaster.

Anton Wilhelm Amo

Anton Wilhelm Amo is also called Anthony William Amo. Anton Wilhelm Amo was a philosopher from the African region from what is today Ghana. Anton was a professor at the Universities of Jena and Halle in Germany after schooling there. In 1707, the Dutch West India Company brought him to Germany as a slave. The father of Dukes Ludwig Rudolf von Wolfenbüttel and August Wilhelm, Anthony Ulrich, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, treated him as a member of the royal family. The Dutch West India Company presented him as a gift to Duke August Wilhelm and Duke Ludwig Rudolf. Anton Wilhelm Amo was the 1st African person ever known to have gone to a foreign learning institution.

Abram Petrovich Gannibal

Abram Petrovich Gannibal was also called Abram Hannibal or Abram Petrov. Abram Hannibal was a Russian army engineer, nobleman, and general of African roots or origin. Some people captured him as a child, took him to Russia, and presented Abram as a present to Peter the Great. Peter the Great free, adopted and raised him in his court household as his godson.

Abram Petrovich Gannibal finally rose to become an essential member of the grand court in Peter’s daughter (Elizabeth). He had more than ten children, most of whom became members of the Russian upper class. Abram Petrovich Gannibal is the central character of the Soviet comedy film (How Czar Peter the Great Married Off His Moor).

Angelo Soliman (His Life)

The real name of Angelo Soliman was Mmadi Make. Angelo Soliman belonged to the Magumi sub-set of the Kanuri tribe. His name Mmadi Make is in connection to a princely class in the Borno state in present-day Nigeria. Slave raiders took him captive as a child and reached at Marseilles as a slave, finally moving to a marchioness household in Messina who ran his education. Out of love for a fellow servant in the house (Angelina), he took up Angelo’s name and chose to celebrate September 11th as his birthday.  After requests, people gave him a present in the 18th century to Prince Georg Christian, Prince von Lobkowitz.

He became the prince’s valet and traveling friend, escorting him on military operations throughout the European region and reportedly saving his life on an occasion. After the demise of Prince Lobkowitz, Soliman went to the Vienna house of Joseph Wenzel the 1st, finally rising to the principal or chief servant. On February 6th, 1768, he got engaged to Magdalena Christiani.

Soliman was a cultured man, and people highly respected him in the intellectual circles of Vienna and Austrian Emperor Joseph the 2nd, and Count Franz Moritz von Lacy counted him as a good friend. In 1783, he linked with the Masonic lodge, which involved most Vienna artists and scholars. Soliman eventually became the Grand Master of the lodge, and he aided in changing its ritual to involve literary elements. The new Masonic direction influenced the practice of Freemasonic throughout the European region. People honor Soliman in Masonic rites as Father of Pure Masonic Thought.

During Soliman’s lifetime, people considered him as a model of the integration and perfectibility of Africans. After his demise, he became an example of the African race.  Klein and Wigger distinguish more than three Soliman features- the noble Moor, the royal Moor, the physiognomic Moor, and the mummified Moor. The 1st two designations refer to the times of his years before his demise. The term royal Moor labels Angelo Soliman in the context of enslaved Moors at the courts of Europeans where their skin color marked their weakness, and they figured as status symbols prefiguring the might of their owners. The label noble Moor describes Angelo Soliman as a former court Moor who climb up the social ladder because he engaged with a noblewoman who made his liberation possible.

Instead of getting a Christian funeral, people – at the Grand Natural History Collection director’s demand – stuffed, skinned, and made Soliman an exhibition within their cabinet of interests. This mummy was on show or display until the 19th century alongside stuffed animals. Josefine, the daughter of Soliman, pursued those concerned to return his remains to the family, but her requests were all in vain. During the October Revolution of the mid-19th century (1848), the mummy burned up.



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