English Heritage has commissioned portraits of forgotten black figures to hang in its properties, beginning with an African girl who was sold into slavery and became Queen Victoria’s goddaughter.
The portrait of Sarah Forbes Bonetta will go on display at Osborne, the Queen’s holiday home on the Isle of Wight.
Bonetta was born as Aina, daughter of a West African ruler, who was orphaned and captured by King Gezo of Dahomey (modern-day Benin)during the Okeadon War in 1848.
The following year, Gezo was visited by a Royal Navy officer, Captain Frederick Forbes. During negotiations, Gezo offered the then-five-year-old Aina as a diplomatic gift to Queen Victoria.
The little girl was re-named Sarah Forbes Bonetta – Bonetta was the name of Forbes’ ship – and taken back to England, where she became the Queen’s godchild. When she married and had children of her own, she named her first child Victoria.
There is no sold into anything there. Although there’s very definitely slavery. Except no wipipo are involved in her slavery anywhere. Purely and entirely a function of ructions among the indigenes of West Africa. All happening in West Africa too.
The confusion will stem, of course, from how can this be possible. For slavery is a wipipo sin, right?