THOUGHTS FROM JACKIE: “Royalty Means Nothing If the Skin Is Black”

THOUGHTS FROM JACKIE: “Royalty Means Nothing If the Skin Is Black”

“William Sessarakoo, an African prince sold into slavery in the 1700s. Image copyright National Portrait Gallery.

William Ansah Sessarakoo by John Faber Jr

Mid 18th century. © National Portrait Gallery, London. NPG D9199

A 2016 display at the Museum of London Docklands, The Royal African, featured the life of William Ansah Sessarakoo, a man from west Africa who arrived in London society in 1749. Sessarakoo was a member of the most important ‘ruling’ family living on the coast at Anomabu, in what is now Ghana. He was sent to England to be educated, but an English slave trader duped him and sold him into slavery in Barbados.

The Royal African Company, which ran England’s network of forts on the west African coast, freed Sessarakoo. They organised for the young royal to witness the opulence of London society. We spoke to the museum’s Head of History Alex Werner & historian Dr. William Pettigrew, author of Freedom’s Debt, about the unscrupulous motives behind the Royal African Company’s generosity.”

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