This is one of the most evocative images I took while in Zanzibar recently. Above and around me was the Anglican Church in Stone Town but I had ventured into the depths of the slave holding areas, a couple of which have been preserved as part of the slave market museum. In a tiny hole in the ground scores of slaves were held, many died and the dimly lit, low ceilinged dungeon spaces cried out with memories from a brutal past.
The iron collar and chains bore testament to a brutal past. Charles Wesley’s (1707-1788) hymn And can it be came to mind:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee…
Food for thought indeed. The Zanzibar slave market may have closed a long time ago but slavery is far from a thing of the past. It has taken on a new form with people being trafficked across continents for entirely different reasons.