Iziko Slave Lodge
Slavery in South Africa

The term “slave” may be used in different contexts to indicate the lack of free will or hard work.

But what did it really mean to be a slave? People have been enslaved throughout history. Much is known about African people who were taken to the Americas to work in colonial homes and on plantations. It is less known that the Cape Colony was also a slave society from the 17th to early 19th centuries.

The definition of slavery is not clear-cut. Many forms of slave labour existed in the past and many forms of labour that can be called unfree or bonded labour. Not everyone agrees that all bonded labour should be called slavery.

The form of slavery used in the Cape Colony and the Americas is called chattel slavery. Chattel slaves were obtained in the lands of their birth and taken against their will to different places where they were sold again.

These people were and could be resold, just as we do with property such as homes and cars today. Slaves had no say about to whom they could be sold. Because slaves were regarded as property, it is difficult to speak about slavery without using dehumanizing words such as commodity, cargo and owner to describe the system