Visiting the Msheireb Slavery Museum

Monday, October 30, 2017

I recently had the opportunity to visit one of the world's only museums dedicated to slavery and human trafficking, right here in Doha.

Msheireb Museums is home to four cultural centers; on my trip, I visited the Bin Jelmood House.

Bin Jelmood was once the extravagant home of one of the most vile slave traders in the Gulf. I take slight pleasure in knowing that his former home is now a museum paying homage to those he sold into bondage, but the knowledge of the Indian Ocean slave trade is still sobering.

Slavery ended in Qatar in 1951. 1951.

According to the museum curators, the descendants of the Indian Ocean slave trade have the same full rights and privileges of other Qataris; they also received reparations. Still my mind is blown that slavery existed here in recent generations.

The most compelling part of the exhibit was the video exhibition where descendants recounted their family's oral history and how life was during slavery. While it doesn't sound as if it was as brutal as slavery in the Americas, it's still slavery, and it's terrible.

Her family history was very sad and compelling.
Video footage in my InstaStories on Instagram 

I most enjoyed the DNA exhibit that demonstrated how mankind originates from sub Saharan Africa. I also enjoyed the new display that showed that genetics supersedes the social construct of race and class. This was a fascinating place to say the least.

DNA is indeed intricate. Can you tell who's Arab? :)

As the descendant of survivors of the trans-Atlantic trade, it was interesting for me to partake in conversation about a slave trade on the opposite side of The Continent. I knew that Arabs were among the first to claim human chattel. Most of the captives of the Indian Ocean slave trade were from the East African region, and so much of the culture here in the gulf is heavily influenced by African norms and customs. Sound familiar?

We had a good discussion at the conclusion of the visit about the similarities and differences between the Indian Ocean slave trade and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

I enjoyed fellowship with other like minded folks. I look forward to part II, and my visit to the other three centres at Msheireb. While this was an atrocious time in history, I guess it's admirable (for serious lack of a better word) that Qatar is doing its part to acknowledge their role in the slave trade.

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