One of the harshest realities in the Star Wars storyline was that Anakin Skywalker was actually a slave before he became a Jedi. His upbringing as a slave affected his mindset while he was still a Jedi, which was why he harbored hatred for slavers and those who owned slaves. He was always very emotional when it came to anything regarding slavery. But who owned Anakin Skywalker before he became a Jedi?
Anakin and his mother, Shmi, were once owned by the Toydarian named Watto, who operated a junk shop on Tatooine during Anakin’s childhood years. But Anakin and his mother once belonged to Gardulla the Hutt before Watto won them from a podracing bet on Tatooine.
The fact that Anakin was a slave was something that he never got over because he always hated slavers and those who promoted slavery throughout the galaxy. This is probably why he also became obsessed with order and control when he became Darth Vader, as he never had freedom during his younger years. That said, let’s talk more about Anakin’s slave past.
Shmi and Anakin Skywalker were slaves
Not a lot of people remember the fact that Anakin Skywalker used to be a slave. In fact, it was his life as a slave that allowed him to meet Qui-Gon Jinn and Padmé Amidala during the events of ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.’ And his life as a slave was an offshoot of the fact that his mother, Shmi Skywalker, was also a slave.
Shmi was born on an unknown planet where slavers captured her and her parents. After that, they were all sold into slavery when she was just a young girl. From that point on, she lived her life as a slave as she was taken from one planet to another to serve a lot of different masters because the pirates merely looked at her as an extra mouth that they needed to feed.
No one knows what happened to Shmi’s parents. But Shmi was also sold off once more in a Zygerrian slave market, one reason Anakin hated the Zygerrians. She eventually got pregnant on an unknown planet without a husband, as that was when it was theorized that the Midi-chlorians were responsible for impregnating Shmi Skywalker through the will of the Force.
While Anakin was still very young, Shmi was sold off to Gardulla the Hutt. That was when they moved to Tatooine, which became the new home planet for both Shmi and a young Anakin Skywalker. And because Shmi was also a slave, Anakin was a slave by extension. That means Anakin was born as a slave, unlike Shmi, who was only turned into a slave.
During one of the podraces customarily held on Tatooine, Gardulla the Hutt bet Shmi and Anakin but lost both of them to the Toydarian named Watto. As such, Shmi and Anakin moved to another owner. Watto owned a junk shop in the town of Mos Espa on Tatooine. That was where he employed both Shmi and Anakin as slaves, as he ordered them around to work on different parts inside the shop or to keep the shop as tidy as possible.
Even though they were slaves, Shmi and Anakin owned a modest home in Mos Espa. Of course, it is possible that Watto owned this home but merely allowed them to live in it.
But the point is that they also had their own free time, as we saw Watto allowing Anakin to go home early and work on his podracer. That was the same home where Anakin invited Qui-Gon Jinn and Padmé Amidala to take shelter during a sandstorm.
So, while Watto may have owned Shmi and Anakin, he wasn’t entirely the worst kind of slave owner because he was still quite reasonable regarding the freedom he gave his slaves. But the fact was that Shmi and Anakin were still supposed to obey his every command, as Shmi once claimed that Watto entered Anakin in podraces even though he was just nine years old at that time.
Qui-Gon Jinn freed Anakin to take him to the Jedi Order
When Qui-Gon met Anakin, he already felt a strong connection to the Force in him. He even wondered who his father was, only for Shmi to tell him that there was no father and that she simply got pregnant out of nowhere. This further bolstered the theory that Anakin was actually the Chosen One prophesized to bring balance back to the Force.
Of course, Qui-Gon’s only goal on Tatooine was to find the parts he needed to repair their ship so they could take Queen Amidala back to Coruscant to testify in front of the Senate. That was why Anakin was willing enough to help them by entering his podracer in the next podracing event, which would win them enough credits to buy the parts that they needed from Watto.
Before the race started, Qui-Gon increased the stakes by asking Watto to bet on both Shmi and Anakin. That’s because Qui-Gon, who was hiding the fact that he was a Jedi, wanted to bring them to Coruscant.
But Watto did not want to part ways with the two slaves, and that was when he used a multi-colored cube to determine who between Anakin and Shmi he should give to Qui-Gon. Of course, Qui-Gon used the Force to allow the cube to land on Anakin.
The boy, of course, won the podracing event and could now help Qui-Gon win the money he needed for the parts. And Qui-Gon surprised him because he had also won his freedom from Watto even though he failed to win Shmi’s freedom.
Since Anakin always wanted to be a Jedi, he reluctantly left Tatooine. His mother allowed him to leave because she understood that Anakin had a bright future ahead of him and was going to be someone that would change the fate of the galaxy. And that was how Anakin got his freedom and eventually became a Jedi Knight before he turned into the dreaded Darth Vader.
Before he became a Jedi Knight, Anakin returned to Tatooine to check up on his mom. He found Watto, who had become a street peddler because he had lost all his money by betting on podraces. Anakin learned that Shmi was sold off to a moisture farmer named Cliegg Lars, who freed and married her. Sadly, Tusken Raiders attacked the farm, took Shmi, and tortured her.
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