Job Ben Solomon is the name he goes by in Europe,long story short the portrait above is Ayouba Souleyman Diallo,son of a Senegambian"Thierno" who is the Pulaar name for a local Muslim knowledgeable cleric equivalent of the arabic Cheikh.
His acquaintance with British officials happened in rather unusual circumstances.Ayouba was sent by his father Souleyman to sell two slaves in the Gambian river to a certain Captain Pike, when they didn't agree on the right price, he ignored his father's instructions and crossed the river to enemies territory where he sold his load for a better price; on his way back him and his interpreter Lamine Ndiaye bought a cattle with the slaves price and paused in a village nearby for lunch.
There they were hijacked by a group belonging to the Mandingo tribe,shaved and sold to the same captain Pike who didn't recognize his former suppliers.An interesting fact is that Ayouba( Job in English) is a Fulla(Pullar) and the slaves he sold were Mandingo ( Manding) just like the group that sold him and his friend in return.Does it ring a bell?
The painting below is the original portrait of Job by William Hoare realised in the year 1733 and commissioned by Sir Sloane. It is today in the national portrait gallery collection in London,Trafalgar square.
I initiated the concept of Doc'Art painting to revisit topics (historical,social,political or just trend) via personas or objects that are relevant to the theme studied. A mixed media (Oil paint,acrylic,resin,stucco and newspaper collage...) is used to capture a period in time (Usually a 100 years radius) in an attempt to add to the literature through art.
My interest in Job's story resides in the fact that it, in itself, throws light on the whole transatlantic slave trade and hits on the rebound the trans Saharan slave trade. Job shows that for at least a good 1000 years African economies has been determined by the Trade with Foreign nations.
First, the really understated Trans Saharan trade initiated by the Arabs who used to take also White European Christians or heathens in the mediterranean sea and in the Slavic countries.The Advent of strong solid nations in Europe stopped that trend and exacerbated the bleed in Africa for the Bagdad Caliphate, the Maghreb and the Middle Eat was in constant need of labour.The Trans Saharan trade had like the European one, hardly hidden economic motivations because most of the people of west Africa threatened for apparent religious reasons had embraced the practical and peaceful Islam through pacific persuasion and close contact with Arabo Berber merchants in ancient Ghana; that was before the Almoravids brough distress and despair in the region
Portugal,deprived of mediterranean trade for long by stronger neighbours tempted the Atlantic coast exploration with prince Henry the navigator as patron. Later with the discovery of America and the disastrous outcome of the Valladolid controversy (at least for Africa),Stronger European nations like Netherland, Spain, England and France will join the party during the 16th century and speed up the doom of Africa.
But African leaders back then cannot be cleared either and Job's history is an illustration of it. Having said that having intelligence amongst the Africans cannot at all support the theory that Africans sold their own because the peoples didn't ask for anything and where victims.Just like French leaders collaborating with Hitler doesn't make French people Nazy.
Job sold two of his fellow brothers mainly because he saw them as heathens whereas he gladly accepted gifts and help from people whose religion he would fight if they were African or if he was not in such a bad shape when he met them.
Same the English Gentlemen's society fought to buy back Job and send him back to Africa out of philanthropy and also to use him as an agent to secure business in the Gambia region and spy on the French.They saw in Job a shrewd and intelligent individual while they denied any form of humanity to Africans backed up by Christianity and the Church.This denial was the basic ideology made up to justify the rapt of Africa, just like the Arabs.
The Mandingo that sold Job did it we can suppose by spirit of revenge because Totemists that was following traditional religion was chased by some tribes reverted to Islam and sold to the Arabs. The opening of the coastal trade was so to speak an opportunity to retaliate and sell their sellers to the Europeans. At the end the whole Agriculture and commerce collapsed to give room to a large scale Slave trade business where the leitmotiv was to sell or to be sold.
My motivation to explore this theme is that by superimposing this history with the scenario that is witnessed in Mali today and the Sahel in general on can see the same situation in different times. The names have changed, some are called terrorists now, others allies and africans are still fighting each other over imported ideologies even though the essence of the divine message is fundamentally humanist,the caliber of the armed forces or groups of influence that implement them are not always in favour of developing Africa.
Africa today like yesterday is hybrid and in between hypocrite foreign forces, opportunistic leaders and confused populations.