Author of his own fate? The eighteenth-century writings of Ayuba Sulayman Diallo - British Library Research Repository
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Journal article

Author of his own fate? The eighteenth-century writings of Ayuba Sulayman Diallo

29 November 2019

Abstract

The life of Ayuba Sulayman Diallo (also known as Job ben Solomon) receives a fresh examination in this article, based primarily on his own writings. The son of an Imam from Bundu in Senegambia, Diallo was enslaved in 1731 and transported to America. He survived to gain his freedom, make his mark in London society, and return to Africa in 1734. This article offers an analysis of documents from the British Library, including items that have not been previously analysed and are here translated into English for the first time. In addition, they bring together what is known of his archive, including the letters he wrote before, during, and after his time in London, the Qur'ans he scribed there, and the scraps and snippets created as he discussed the Arabic language with friends. A close analysis of Diallo's writings reveals new information about his life history; his relationships with the elites in both Bundu and London; his scholarly abilities; and the history of Bundu itself. Diallo used the technology of writing to direct the course of his own life and career, converting a disastrous course of events into favourable opportunities for himself.

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