Every 27 April is celebrated as Abolition Day in Mayotte. This holiday commemorates the outlawing of slavery on the island of Mayotte in the year 1847. Mayotte saw an end to slavery a year early, since abolition came to the other French colonies only in 1848.
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Interestingly, Mayotte had had slavery for centuries before Europeans ever stepped foot on the island. It was an Islamic state with slavery permitted under Sharia Law, though slaves still had some “rights” and were considered fully human. Portugal discovered Mayotte in 1503 but did not take control. Mayotte became a French colony in 1841, and only six years later, slavery was abolished on the island.
Although there were economic motives for abolishing slavery in Mayotte and the process took several months to complete, April of 1847 marks a major turn for the better for the island’s population. People are quick to celebrate this major positive event in their history, regardless of their ethnic descent. But it holds special meaning for the descendants of the freed slaves.
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