Nydia A. Swaby

feminist - avid reader - foodie - plant mom - fitness fanatic lover of all things music

Sara Forbes Bonetta was a West African Egbado Omoba who was orphaned in inter-tribal warfare at the age of eight. Intended to be a human sacrifice, she was rescued by Captain Frederick E. Forbes of the Royal Navy, who convinced King Ghezo of Dahomey to give her to Queen Victoria, “She would be a present from the King of the blacks to the Queen of the Whites,” Forbes wrote later. He named her Sara Forbes Bonetta.

Queen Victoria was impressed by the Sara’s exceptional intelligence, and had her raised as her goddaughter in the British middle class. In 1851 she gained a long lasting cough that was caused by the climate transferring from Africa to Great Britain. She was sent to school in Africa and later then returned to England when she became 20. Sara was sanctioned by Queen Victoria to marry James Davies at Nicholas Church in Brighton in August, 1862. Davies was a Yoruba businessman of considerable wealth for the period, and the couple moved back to their native Africa after their wedding. Sara was baptised at a church in the town of Badagry, a former slave port.

James Davies was concerned about Sara because she had a bad cough that would not go away; she was eventually diagnosed with the consumption. Sara Forbes Bonetta died at the age of 37 in 1880 of tuberculosis. 

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