The life of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, from modern-day Senegal, reveals some of the startling and uncomfortable truths behind the historic slave trade.
Cultural historian Gus Casely-Hayford examines the intriguing portrait of Diallo, which was painted by William Hoare in 1733 and currently hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London. The depiction of this gentle and educated African Muslim convinced many people in Britain at the time of the inhumanity of slavery. It was an important piece of abolitionist propaganda and reminds us of the complex demography of eighteenth century Britain.
Yet Diallo’s life is also one that contains moral contradictions and twists. Where was Diallo from and why does his story matter?