I have hit a brick wall in finding my African ancestry until more records are made available online. I luckier than others in the sense that I will be able to trace through church records since the Roman Catholic religion was the only religion on the islands my ancestors lived on. I celebrate my African ancestry because they were forced to be my ancestors and I have nothing but pride to know that I descend from them. However I have issue with horrible treatment thrown at them and find myself wanting to know so much more about their lives.
Newton’s Law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This couldn’t be truer when we look at the African Holocaust that spanned 5 centuries. The complete destruction of the African family not only happened on the continent of Africa, but on the Middle Passage and if the enslaved Africans reached the destinations once bought. Millions of Africans were torn away from their motherland in order to die at sea and be thrown overboard. The results is the loss of connection to our ancestors and true culture. While many dishes connect back to our ancestors, it wasn't known until we started digging; an unspoken truth.
It is believed that shark migration patterns also changed as these creatures recognized that these ships were a source of food with the throwing overboard of the sick and dead, those that led revolts, and those that committed suicide; approximately 1.8 million African ancestors in the sea.
William Bosman author of A New and Accurate Description of the Coast of Guinea, Divided Into the Gold, the Slave, and the Ivory Coast (1705), wrote...
I have sometimes, not without horrour, seen the dismal Rapaciousness of these Animals; four or five of them together shoot to the bottom under the Ship to tear the dead Corps to pieces, at each bite an Arm, a Leg, or the Head is snapt off; and before you can tell twenty they have sometimes divided the Body amongst them so nicely that the least Particle is left; nay, not so much any of the Iutiails; and if any one of them to come too late for his share, he is ready eat up the others, and they attack one another the greatest violence in the World; and their Heads and half their Bodies above surface of the Water, they give one another forcible blows that they make the Sea a to tremble.However one thing that is not discussed openly or not often enough, what occurred after the United States enacted the Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807 Act that went into effect on January 1st, 1808. This act permitted slave trading within the United States but not permitting importation of slaves from outside of the United States. This act was driven by the successful revolts that occurred on the island of Hispaniola (Haiti & Dominican Republic) where our enslaved ancestors/genetic cousins, fought and successfully won their freedom in 1804. Another thing that this successful revolt led to was that United States slave owners became more strict and brutal towards the enslaved people.
This Act led to smuggling of slaves which also led to more deaths. Slaves were chained to metal balls that were thrown off the ship via a hatched door to avoid being caught with slaves aboard.
It was cheaper as these Slave ship owners viewed Africa as a non-stop resources for more Africans. They dumped Africans overboard to avoid being fined or captured.
Importing of slave would eventually be called piracy under another Act passed in 1819 called the Era of Good Feelings. Anyone caught would be given the death penalty or arrested and was enforced by the US Navy. This led to more African deaths off the shores of the United States and today it believed that is why there is such a high volume of sharks in the Carolina region.
The same thing was occurring in other parts of the world:
Last Tuesday the smallpox began to rage, and we hauled 60 corpses out of the hold.... The sights which I witness may I never look on such again. This is a dreadful trade...... I am growing sicker every day of this business of buying and selling human beings for beasts of burden... On the eighth day [out at sea] I took my round of the half deck, holding a camphor bag in my teeth; for the stench was hideous. The sick and dying were chained together. I saw pregnant women give birth to babies whilst chained to corpses, which our drunken overseers had not removed. The blacks were literally jammed between decks as if in a coffin; and a coffin that dreadful hold became to nearly one half of our cargo before we reached Bahia... Richard Drake, Revelation of a Slave Smuggler, 1860.
Over on the continent of Africa, Britain was enforcing their Blockade of Africa which outlawed British ships from transporting slaves, this also began in 1808. Britain’s Royal Navy established a presence off the African coast to enforce the ban and were called the West Africa Squadron. The ban included other countries but the United States refused to allow British ships interfere with American ships.Many were thrown off ships off the coast of Africa to avoid seizure of their ships or arrests.
Hope this post help others in understanding what happened to our ancestors as this is just the beginning of the struggles of our African ancestors and the African Holocaust that people refuse to recognize. This story doesn't end here and it is simply a minute view into what Africans faced.
- E2BN - East of England Broadband Network. (n.d.). Suppressing the Trade. Retrieved from The Abolish Project: http://abolition.e2bn.org/slavery_155.html
- Bly, A. T. (1998). Crossing the lake of fire: slave resistance during the Middle Passage, 1720-1842. The Journal of Negro History, 83(3), 178+. Retrieved from http://db24.linccweb.org/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.db24.linccweb.org/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=lincclin_spjc&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA54994009&asid=8f2a9d054c54098479d4d04873a1388d
- Coughtry, J. (2009). The Journal of American History, 96(1), 205-207. doi:10.2307/27694775
- Senie, H. (2009). The Journal of American History, 96(1), 205-205. doi:10.2307/27694774
- Wolfe, B. Slave Ships and the Middle Passage. (2013, January 29). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Slave_Ships_and_the_Middle_Passage.
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