Africa has a long-standing history of slavery and slavery practices through domestic slavery, which intensified extensively through the trans-Saharan, Indian Ocean and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Today, hundreds of thousands of formerly enslaved people in and from Africa can trace back their modern forms of slavery and discrimination – to the caste-based slavery of the past, and the discrimination associated with the caste-based slavery of their ancestors.
Yet, the role of caste and its practices remains less explored in debates and research, including that by human rights organisations. Professor Penda Mbow succinctly captures this observation in the context of human rights organisations in Senegal, saying that organisations “never carry out investigations to evaluate the impact of hierarchies of order and caste on the lives of individuals and their social relations, on their married lives and, subsequently, on their personal fulfilment.” She further comments that “a good proportion of civil society deliberately maintains total vagueness in regard to the disappearance of order and caste hierarchies”.
The study titled ‘Communities Discriminated on Work and Descent (CDWD) in Africa and Status of Modern Slavery – A Regional Report 2023', explores the role of caste-identity of communities in slavery and slavery-like practices.