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Learning most of this history for the first time.
I found the story of the Africans and Asians in Australia’s history as a loose thread, buried in a throwaway sentence about an enslaved South African woman, Rachel of the Cape1, who had been sentenced to seven years’ banishment from South Africa. She was convicted in a theft case in August 1830, along with another enslaved woman and a free black woman. In March 1831, in mitigation of sentence, Rachel “… forwarded her own petition from Robben Island, begging not to be sent to New South Wales on account of her poor health, needy children and the ‘aged’ mistress who depended on her for an income.”2
This startling snippet of information, mentioned without context, in turn opened the door to practices that were common in the years before the abolition of slavery across the British empire, and to a history of dark people in…
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