Informations and abstract
Keywords: Slavery; Dependence; Manumission; Somalia; Freedom; Liberti.
Discussion about the emancipation and resistance to colonization of the slaves of southern Somalia has been catalysed on the historical figure of Nassib Bundo. He was a chief who defended the colonies of the runaways and freed slaves of Gosha (Southern Somalia) at the end of the nineteenth century. However also written sources in addition to the oral ones present serious discrepancies as regards the crucial events that brought Nassib Bundo to emancipation from slavery and eventually to the headship of the communities of the escaped and freed slaves of Gosha. The reasons underlying these discrepancies become decipherable only on the base of information gathered during a long anthropological fieldwork. In this article, I shall try to retrace some of the salient moments of his life and the life of the communities who surrounded him through an analysis of the source as embedded in the socio-historical moment they were produced. The degrees of freedom that people could enjoy in the mid-end of the nineteenth century in central southern Somalia intersected with local dynamics of dependence; these ranged from the most extreme of slavery in the agricultural farms where slaves were enchained to forms of clientship in which the patron and the client both received specific benefits. To disentangle the image of Nassib Bundo and of the runaways' slaves of Gosha from stereotypical interpretations which sees them as defenders of freedom seen according to present standards two aspects must be taken into account: the different facets of the social stratification of the time, and the local existing forms of emancipation from slavery.