African American News and Genealogy

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Author to reveal story of African slave’s journey to Aberdeen

By Cameron Simpson, February 21, 2005 HE worked as manservant for Sir Richard Burton. But Selim Aga is about to become a star in his own right.His remarkable story has been uncovered by James McCarthy, the Scots author of several works on Africa. He is close to completing a novel on Selim, a slave brought to live at Murtle House at Peterculter, just outside Aberdeen. Sir Richard in this adventurous tale is not the actor but the famous African explorer, notorious for his general contempt for Africans. Ironically, he called his manservant ''The most excellent Selim". McCarthy said: "I believe Selim's is the most remarkable of Scottish slave stories, given that it is not from the Atlantic trade, but uniquely from the Muslim world. One informed correspondent in California opines that it could make a film. There are acres of print on Burton, but no-one so far has pursued the story of his manservant and no-one has made the connection with a specific location in Scotland." Born in Sudan around 1827, Selim was captured at the age of eight by northern Arabs and endured a 2000-mile journey to a slave market at Cairo.McCarthy said: "What is astonishing is that 14 years later, while still in his early twenties, he was lecturing to fashionable audiences in the heart of London to accompany the very popular Panorama of the Nile, a moving tableau and precursor to the cinema, all in fluent English, albeit with a pronounced Aberdeenshire accent. Full Story:


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