Niama was born around 1734 in the kingdom of Galaam, on the edge of the Senegal River. Her father was King Tonca Niama. The kingdom of Galaam, like the other surrounding kingdoms, lived on two cursed deals: “The traffic in gold, the traffic in slaves”. In the region of Senegal, the kingdoms were perpetually at war with each other. At the mouth of the river, since 1659, the French came to settle on a small island, called Ndjar, where they traded junk for gold and slaves.
In 1743, the war between kingdoms of Senegal was raging. The grandfather of Niama, then King Tonca, was massacred, as well as all the men of his family. Thus Niama was captured. She was only 9 years old. He was locked up in Fort Saint-Joseph, where all the slaves were gathered before their transport to Saint-Louis-du-Senegal. It was from there that they were taken on the slave ships bound for the Caribbean Islands. However, certain cargoes made the tour of Africa, via the Cape of Good Hope, to be unloaded at Île de France or Île Bourbon. Niama was then sold as a slave to Sieur Pierre David, General manager of the "Company of Senegal".
An outstanding scandal arises in the colony.
- In 1746, Pierre David was appointed Governor General of Île de France and Île Bourbon, succeeding Mahé de la Bourdonnais. Pierre David took Niama with him in Port-Louis. Although she was a Muslim, Niama was brought up in the Catholic religion. We gave it a new name: Marie-Genevieve. In 1749 Pierre David resold Niama to the Sieur Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy. She was 15 years old. Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy was an engineer. Originally from Burgundy, he arrived in Mauritius in 1742.
- The 20 November 1751, Niama, who was 17, gave birth to a baby girl. According to the baptismal certificate, Father Le Borgne, parish priest of Saint-Louis, in Port-Louis, had baptized the child: "Jeanne Thérèse, natural daughter of Niama, slave of Geoffroy ”. The father was obviously the owner himself, the engineer Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy. The scandal was such in the colony that Geoffroy was forced to leave Mauritius, with Niama and the baby, to come and settle in Bourbon, in the Rivière d'Abord district, on the Islands Basin-Flat. It was then in 1752. There were then in Bourbon 13 slaves and 000 whites.
5ème female slave freed at Bourbon.
- In August 1755, Niama gave birth to a boy. The child was baptized on August 23. Father Desbeur, then pastor of the parish, wrote: "Jean-Baptiste, son of Jean-Baptiste and Niama, free guinea negress ”.
- "Guinea negress" simply meant that she came from Africa and "Free", because early in the morning Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy had gone to see his lawyer, Guy The sport, to free Niama, the mother of her two children. Niama was the fifth female slave freed at Bourbon. As a result, little John the Baptist was never a slave, he was born “Free”.
Astronomer, botanist, cartographer, geologist.
- Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy donated to Niama of a concession, next to his, on the Islands Basin-Flat. This is why the child will be called Jean-Baptiste " Lislet ». Niama had two more sons, that is to say Louis in 1758 and Jean-Xavier in 1763. Jean-Baptiste was a very intelligent boy. His father taught him mathematics, Latin, drawing. When Jean-Baptiste reached the age of 15, his father landed him a position as "picker on the roads of Roy", which meant foreman.
- In 1771, as his son could not be his heir, Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy sold him a plot of 200 gaulettes. And in 1794 Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy decided to adopt his son and give him his name. This is how the young John the Baptist said " Lislet ", Will now be called Jean-Baptiste Lislet-Geoffroy. Jean-Baptiste Lislet-Geoffroy went on to become the renowned scholar, astronomer, botanist, cartographer and geologist that we know. During the English occupation of Bourbon, the Governor Farquhar did not fail to notice him and had him appointed engineer-cartographer in Mauritius.
Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy, the father, died in 1799 in his hut in Basin-Flat, at Rivière d'Abord at the age of 90. Niama left Bourbon to join his son in Port-Louis. She died there on June 12, 1809, at the age of 75. She had never seen her native country, Senegal. Her last two boys died young: Jean-Xavier in 1780 under the flag of the Volunteers of Bourbon at the age of 22 and Louis in 1789, at the age of 31. We don't know what happened to his daughter, Jeanne-Therese. Jean-Baptiste Lislet-Geoffroy died in Mauritius in 1836, a year after the abolition of slavery in that colony. He was 81 years old.
This is the moving story of Niama mixed with pain and worth. Very unfortunately, she left this world without having had the opportunity to see the land of her ancestors again, this very land of Senegal which saw her birth because of those who gave themselves the luxury of enslaving and abusing her. .