SLAVES AND SLAVE TRADERS
The Arabs who in past ages were the merchants of the Orient in gold, frankincense and myrrh, both then and now traded in slaves also. And the cruel trade is not yet ended. Would you like to hear about some boys who have darker skins than yours, and darker hearts, because they do not know the Lord Jesus as their own Saviour? Well, these poor little boys were stolen from their mothers and fathers by wicked men called Arabs, who go from Arabia to Africa in boats to steal boys and girls and bring them here to sell them. Each boy is sold for nearly ten pounds ($50). These men know it is wrong in their hearts, but you see what a lot of money they make! What does St. Paul say? “The love of money is the root of all evil.” And then the religion of the Arab permits him to do this work of stealing and selling boys and girls.
One night about two or three years ago, just as the sun was setting, some little black boys were playing and fishing near the water on the coast of Zanzibar, in East Africa; a man came up to them and offered them some dates. Little black and white boys are always ready to eat, are they not? These boys took the dates and while they were eating, the man threw a cloth over their heads and carried them off to a boat standing near. The Arabs caught a great many in this way, and when the boat had as many as it could carry they moved away and began to travel towards Arabia. The poor children were kept in the bottom of the boat, all huddled together, and given very little to eat and drink. Sometimes the sea was rough and they were sick, so altogether their voyage in an open boat was not a pleasant one. But “Some One” was taking notice of these children and He was going to deliver them. Do you know who was watching over them? After many days at sea the boat came near Muscat. A servant of the British Consul saw the boat and knew there were slaves in it. Then the Consul got ready in a small boat and went after the big one. They had to follow nearly all night and at last overtook the slave-dhow. The Consul pulled alongside in a Bedden (native boat) and demanded the firearms of the Arabs. Then he bound them and put his own sailors on board, and brought the precious cargo of souls into Muscat harbour.
[Illustration: SLAVE GIRL IN ARABIA.]
The owner of the slave-dhow was sent to prison, and the boys and girls were given away to Christian people to train, the missionary in Muscat getting the largest share.
This was the origin of the rescued-slave school at Muscat. Other slaves are caught from time to time and liberated. Sometimes they are sent to Bombay or other places in India; a large number were once liberated at Aden and are now in a school at Lovedale in Africa. When these poor slave children first come from the slave ships they are very ignorant and almost like wild animals. They need to learn everything, and even their language is of little use to them, as they need to learn Arabic before they can get along in Arabia. The Muscat boys first learned English from the missionary, but it was not easy for them.