Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua

An Enslaved Muslim of the Black Atlantic

By Paul E. Lovejoy, Nielson Bezerra

Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua

Approx. 288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 21 halftones, 4 maps

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-8245-7
    Published: January 2025
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-8244-0
    Published: January 2025

Paperback Available January 2025, but pre-order your copy today!

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A literate Muslim born between 1820 and 1830 in present-day Benin, Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua was enslaved in the interior of West Africa and forcibly moved to Brazil in 1845. He escaped from slavery when his master took him to New York City in 1847. Baquaqua then fled to Haiti where he converted to Christianity. When he eventually returned to the United States, he enrolled in New York Central College. Baquaqua published his autobiography in 1854 and traveled to Liverpool, England, with the intention of returning to Africa. He apparently achieved this goal by the early 1860s, when his paper trail disappears.

Lovejoy and Bezerra's analysis of this remarkable autobiography—the only known narrative by a former Brazilian slave—illuminates what Baquaqua's home in Africa was like, examines African slavery in mid-nineteenth-century Brazil, and offers an Atlantic perspective on resistance to slavery in the Americas in the era of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.

About the Author

Paul E. Lovejoy is Distinguished Research Professor and Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History at York University. Nielson Bezerra is associate professor at Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro and director of Museu Vivo do São Bento.
For more information about Paul E. Lovejoy, visit the Author Page.


"A beautiful, clearly written, and much needed monograph on the harrowing life of Baquaqua . . . Paul Lovejoy is the greatest specialist on the subject and best author for this book."—Ana Lucia Araujo, author of The Gift: How Objects of Prestige Shaped the Atlantic Slave Trade and Colonialism

"A true feat of research, this book goes beyond biography; rather, it uses Baquaqua's story as a vehicle to explore the nineteenth-century Black Atlantic. Lovejoy and Bezerra dispel prevailing misconceptions about Baquaqua's life and unearth a wealth of new detail."—Sean M. Kelley, The Voyage of the Slave Ship Hare: A Journey into Captivity from Sierra Leone to South Carolina