Hello beautiful people! Welcome to another week, and to Champions’ Meal. I trust your weekend was splendid, and this week will be likewise and even more. So, to begin the day and week, I’ve prepared something for you. Have a good read.
A day (a year ago), I was up in my room. And while tidying up, I began thinking, as is a norm for me whenever I’m working. My thoughts were focused on what to post for you, for that week or the future. Questions flooded my mind. Questions that surrounded one main issue. I had answers to those questions, but I wanted someone to second them or enlighten me. So, I told myself that whoever (in family) was ‘unfortunate’ to pass or come into my room at that time, will I share my thoughts with. And lo, my dad highlighted at my room. He laid on my comfy bed, thinking he was about relaxing. Oh! Had he known my plan…. So, unhesitatingly, I asked: “Dad, do you think black’s will be enslaved again?” After pausing for about 30 seconds, he answered, “Son, the black’s were given freedom.” And shaking his head, he continued, “But they didn’t accept it…”
For every question, there’s an answer, perhaps, even multiple answers. And as some questions can amaze one or seem difficult to answer, the answers (likewise) can dazzle one, either with its simplicity or profundity. The question-topic is the case study for today and some weeks. Analysing this topic, will unveil areas needing serious and immediate corrective measures, individually and collectively. But before proceeding any further, I must declare that whatever is written under this topic (today and till its conclusion) is unbiased (impersonal). And it’s not directly indicting any party, group, persons, race, country, continent etc., in anyway whatsoever. With that said, let’s go back in time. Shall we?
BRIEF HISTORY OF NEGRO SLAVERY
History (as defined) exhibits that there’s a beginning to everything; both melancholic and elating events. Hence, it’s fundamental to know what was or how it was before now. And this is a Brief History of Negro Slavery:
“The labor-intensive agriculture of the New World demanded a large workforce. Crops such as sugar cane, tobacco and cotton required an unlimited and inexpensive supply of strong backs to assure timely production for the European market. Slaves from Africa offered the solution. The slave trade between Western Africa and the America’s reached its peak in the mid-18th century when it is estimated that over 80,000 Africans annually crossed the Atlantic to spend the rest of their lives in chains. Of those who survived the voyage, the final destination of approximately 40% was the Caribbean Islands. Thirty-eight percent ended up in Brazil, 17% in Spanish America and 6% in the United States…
A slave’s journey to a life of servitude often began in the interior of Africa with his or her capture as a prize of war, as tribute given by a weak tribal state to a more powerful one…. European slave traders rarely ventured beyond Africa’s coastal regions. The African interior was riddled with disease, the natives were often hostile and the land uncharted. The Europeans preferred to stay in the coastal region and have the natives bring the slaves to them.” The history continues with a disturbing finding of an involved Surgeon.
Dr. Alexander Falconbridge’s Discovery:
Dr. Alexander Falconbridge served as the surgeon aboard a number of slave ships that “plied their trade between the West African coast and the Caribbean in the late 1700s.” He described his experiences in “An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa”. An influential and popular book in the abolitionist movement, published in 1788. “He became active in the Anti-Slavery Society and was appointed Governor of a colony established for freed slaves on the coast of modern-day Sierra Leone.” His service was abridged, as he died in 1788 shortly after his appointment. His story shares his discovery of how the native African loses his freedom:
Dr. Alexander Falconbridge believed that, “Most of the Negroes shipped off from the coast of Africa are kidnapped.” And he strongly believed this. But he needed more evidence, not just a haunch. And black traders almost stalled his discovery, as they had taken “…extreme care to prevent the Europeans from gaining any intelligence of their modes of proceeding.” And the Europeans ignorance of their language, which the black traders are equally unacquainted with, prevented them from accessing such information on the shady operations of the black traders. Dr. Falconbridge, “…however, by means of occasional inquiries, made through interpreters, procured some intelligence relative to the point…” And these are his selected striking occasions:
In his first striking occasion, he narrates thus: “While I was in employ on board one of the slave ships, a Negro informed me that being one evening invited to drink with some of the black traders, upon his going away, they attempted to seize him. As he was very active, he evaded their design, and got out of their hands. He was, however, prevented from effecting his escape by a large dog, which laid hold of him, and compelled him to submit. These creatures are kept by many of the traders for that purpose; and being trained to the inhuman sport, they appear to be much pleased with it.”
His second was when a Negro woman told him that “as she was on her return home, one evening, from some neighbors, to whom she had been making a visit by invitation, she was kidnapped; and, notwithstanding she was big with child, sold for a slave.”
Dr. Alexander Falconbridge’s final occasion was one he witnessed himself during his stay on the coast of Africa. He narrates: “I was an eye-witness of the following transaction: A black trader invited a Negro, who resided a little way up the country, to come and see him. After the entertainment was over, the trader proposed to his guest, to treat him with a sight of one of the ships lying in the river. The unsuspicious countryman readily consented, and accompanied the trader in a canoe to the side of the ship, which he viewed with pleasure and astonishment. While he was thus employed, some black traders on board, who appeared to be in the secret, leaped into the canoe, seized the unfortunate man, and dragging him into the ship, immediately sold him.”
Furthermore, as if the kidnapping and selling of Negroes wasn’t satisfactory, black traders decided to get all the more brutal. And this for me is perhaps the most destabilising and devastating of all their atrocities. Hmmm…. Black traders frequently and severely beat Negroes who were rejected by the captains. But why were they rejected and beaten? Unfortunately so, they were rejected and gruesomely beating just because they were afflicted with an infirmity, or deformity. Be it having bad eyes or teeth. Whether lame, or weak in their joints. Distorted in the back, or of a slender make, or narrow in the chest. They were brutally dealt with and used with great severity, for a circumstance uninflected by them…
NEGRO SLAVERY IN AMERICA
“A forced migration from Africa—the transatlantic slave trade—carried black people to the Americas. A second forced migration—the internal slave trade—transported them from the Atlantic coast to the interior of the American South. A third migration—this time initiated largely, but not always, by black Americans—carried black people from the rural South to the urban North. At the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first, African American life is again being transformed by another migration, this time a global one, as peoples of African descent from all parts of the world enter the United States.”
“The transatlantic slave trade had its beginning in the middle of the fifteenth century when Portuguese ships sailed down the West African coast. The intention was to trade for gold and spices, but the voyagers found another even more valuable commodity—human beings. Over time, the trade in men and women supplanted other commerce, and the slaves’ destination changed from Europe to the Americas, where plantations growing commodities for the international market initiated the massive transfer of African peoples. In all, some eleven to twelve million Africans were forcibly carried to the Americas. Of those, roughly one-half million (or about 4.5 percent) were taken to mainland North America or what became the United States.”
“The first black men and women arrived in mainland North America in the sixteenth century, often accompanying European explorers. For the next century or so, they continued to trickle onto the continent in small numbers, often not from Africa itself but from Europe, the Antilles, or other parts of the Atlantic littoral…”
“Slaves worked harder, propelling their owners to new, previously unimagined heights of wealth and power. As they did, slave owners expanded their plantations and demanded more and more slaves, as slaves proved to be an extraordinarily valuable form of labor. Not only were they workers, but they reproduced themselves, adding to the owners’ wealth…”
“Igbo peoples constituted the majority of African slaves in Virginia and Maryland, so much so that some historians have denominated colonial Virginia as “Igbo land.” A different pattern emerged in Low country South Carolina and Georgia, where slaves from central Africa predominated from the beginning of large-scale importation, so that if Virginia was Igbo land, the Low country might be likened to a new Angola…”
“….The depths of human misery and the astounding death toll of men and women packed in the stinking hulls still remains difficult to fathom. Stripped naked and bereft of their every belonging, they boarded the ship and encountered—often for the first time—white men. Brandishing hot irons to mark their captives in the most personal way, these “white men with horrible looks, red faces, and long hair” left more than a physical scar. Many enslaved Africans concluded that the white men were in league with the devil, if not themselves devils. For other Africans, the trauma of having their skin seared confirmed that they were bound for the slaughterhouse to be eaten by the cannibals, who had stamped them in much the way animals were marked.”
“….Indeed, the shock of arrival only repeated the trauma of African enslavement. Staggering to their feet, bodies still bent from their weeks below deck, shaking with apprehension, the captives were fitted with a new set of shackles—a painful welcome to their new homeland. The captives again confronted the auction block and the prospect of being poked and prodded by strange white men speaking strange languages, intent on demonstrating their mastery. Marched in chains to some isolated, backwoods plantation, forced to labor long hours at unfamiliar tasks, enslaved black men and women began their lives in mainland North America. It was a grim existence, as their debilitating work regime, drafty dormitories, and bland rations invited an early death…”
Eventually, the survivors compensated themselves for all their pain, hardship, discomfort and brutal assaults, as they “slowly, inexorably made the new land their own. Although black people never challenged white numerical dominance in the region, they achieved majorities in a few localities. Transplanted Africans began to master the languages of North America, learned to traverse the countryside, formed friendships, pieced together new lineages from real and fictive kin, and created a new sacred world. Their children, who knew no other land, took root in American soil and made the land that had been forced on their parents their own. Like most other Americans, they too were the children of immigrants—but immigrants of a very different kind.”
And this ends the history of Negro slavery. But where is all these ultimately gearing towards? Well, that will be discussed next time and for some weeks. Thanks for reading. And please remember to share this important history. It’s helpful knowing what activities preceded our existence, so as to take appropriate actions where necessary. See you next time. Have a blessed day and week. Bye.