Migrants: when Europeans once flocked to North African shores
M'hamed Oualdi, "Migrants: when Europeans once flocked to North African shores", The Conversation, March 25th, 2018 [online]
Seen on March 25th, 2018, URL: https://theconversation.com/migrants-when-europeans-once-flocked-to-north-african-shores-93696
“Praise be to God. To my master, may god preserve you. After our master scolded me and became angry with me, accusing me of having often acted without advising him, and of bringing my mother here from Greece without his consent […] I took refuge amongst the most humble people […] I am your slave. You have to give orders to your slave. You also have the power to forgive him. You claim I brought my mother to me without informing your Excellency. [Well,] I have no mother, nor father. You are my mother and my father. I have only you, master.”
Now conserved at the Tunisian national archives, this is an excerpt from a letter written in 1832 by a Greek slave who converted to Islam under the name Muhammad the Treasurer (Khaznadar).
His apology was addressed to his master, the Vizier (or Prime Minister) of the Ottoman province of Tunis, al-Shakir Sahib al-Taba, Keeper of the Seals. Sahib Al-Taba, a slave himself, was born in Circassia, in the Northern Caucasus region. Today this area is part of the Russian Federation, north of Georgia, covering the modern day Russian Republics of Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Adygea.
One of many accounts by slaves over the course of the 19th century, this letter, written in Arabic, takes us back to a time when men and women moved around quite differently within the Mediterranean.