Meet Sara Forbes Bonetta, The Yoruba Slave Who Became Goddaughter To The Queen Of England

Lady Sara Forbes Bonetta (1843-1880) was a Yoruba Egbado Omoba who was orphaned in intertribal warfare, sold into slavery, and in a remarkable twist of events, was liberated from enslavement, and became a goddaughter to Queen of England, Queen Victoria.

She became an orphan after her village, Oke-adan, was attacked by King Gezo of Dahomey, the most notorious slave trading monarch in West Africa in the early 19th century.

While she was taken to Dahomey to serve at the king’s court, a British Commander,  Frederick Forbes came to persuade king Gezo to stop slave trade.

She was later given to the commander as a gift to Queen Victoria.  According to history, she would be a present from the King of the Blacks to the Queen of the Whites.

The commander renamed Sara and took her to Great Britain to meet Queen Victoria. Impressed by her intelligence and her manner, the Queen gave Sara the freedom to visit her castle whenever she wanted.

Because of Sara’s inability to adjust well to a foreign weather, she was sent to the Female Institution in Freetown, Sierra Leone, a Church Missionary Society school.


When she was 12 years old, the Queen asked that Sarah return to England.

In 1862,  Sarah was authorised by the Queen to marry James Pinson Labulo Davies, a wealthy Yoruba businessman.

After their wedding, they moved back to Nigeria and settled in Badagry. Sarah gave birth to a daughter and was permitted by the Queen to name her child, Victoria, who also became the Queen’s goddaughter.

Sarah had two more children but was unfortunately diagnosed with tuberculosis after years of suffering from a bad cough.  She died at the age of 37 in 1880 and she was buried in Funchal Madiera, the capital of Portugal.

Written by PH

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