Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

Slavery, Lake Nyassa, 1895

Evening Telegraph (Sheffield), 18 January, 1895
On October 1st H.M.S. Pioneer, Lieutenant E. C. Villiers in command, was cruising on Lake Nyassa, off the Portuguese coast, opposite Kota-Kota, when a sail was sighted.  The gun-boat being on the lookout for slave dhows from Kota-Kota, went at full speed in pursuit.  Presently two more sail were seen, and it was perceived that three dhows were lying becalmed.  As the gun-boat approached a breeze sprang up, and the slavers did their best to get away, but after a time the Pioneer overhauled two of them. They were crowded with people, and the Pioneer, having gone to quarter, persuaded the larger one to lower her sail, and then took her in tow.  Thus hampered, the gun-boat continued the pursuit of the second, which also wisely surrendered.  The captains showed false passports, and on board of each craft there were many women and children and large quantities of ivory.  The vessels were made to unreef their halliards, and were told that if they tried to get away they would be sunk. The third dhow was then pursued, taken and towed back to the others, and the whole flotilla was taken to Fort Maguire, where it was discovered that numerous slaves had been captured, and that the vessels were full of slave chains and slave irons. They had been bound from Kota-Kota to Losewa, Portuguese territory.  One of the dhows possessed a small cannon.  This is the first occasion on which either of the gun-boars, now on the lake for over a year, has been able to intercept any slavers, for the Nyassa is so long and so narrow, and the Arabs are so expert in the collection of intelligence and the use of signals, that these fast craft have always hitherto managed to make their short passages while the gunboats were elsewhere occupied.  In due course the Consular Court, presided over by Major W. Edwards, condemned all three of the dhows.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School