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Africa, Europe, and Jamaica

Melissa B. McLean


Traders, businessmen, African slavers and slaves each had a unique experience and involvement in the business of the transatlantic slave trade. This lucrative process, that lasted between 1500 to 1870 AD included three different hemispheres: Europe, Africa, and the Americas, specifically Jamaica. In Africa slavery existed long before European exposure, however, over time the motivation for slavery changed. Originally slavery existed because of the expanding of African territories or the need to pay off debts. Europeans, during their attempts to make a shorter trade route to India and Asia, encountered the African custom and adopted it. Therefore, the Europeans filled their pockets with goods from West Coast Africa, including human cargo. Those persons who were captured were auctioned to other Europeans in Western Africa, and then shipped to European colonial lands including Jamaica. The slaves were then put to work on a plantation-based colony, whose goods were sent back to its mother country. The triangular system perpetuated the demand for slaves by Europeans in order to increase their country’s wealth. Throughout all of the shipping of goods, including human cargo, individual people were involved in the evolution of the transatlantic trade. The main focus of this paper is to see the overall dynamics of the system, and involvement of individuals and countries, like Jamaica. The evolution and immersion of the transatlantic slave trade not only strengthened capitalism for individuals and their countries, but in turn it weakened Africa and Jamaica by making it dependent economically on outside nations.

The slave trade in Africa began long before the introduction of Europeans. Africans would enslave people for different reasons contrary to the modern stereotype, profit. According to the memoirs of an Italian born French slave trader, Captain Theodore Canot (also spelled Canneau) there are five principles for the enslavement of Africans by other Africans. The first reason for slavery was the prisoner of war. War between rival communities over land or for other fractions left people who were captured. These people were mainly adopted into the new culture, in order to increase the power of the dominant society; they were not only used for labor purposes.

War between communities was not the only means of fighting that caused slavery. The second principle concerns fighting between family members. If a household becomes too upset by a certain member of the family, the remaining members have the option to sell the troublemaker into slavery. This in turn would solve the familial problem, as well as enable profit for the family and the individual. The family gains wealth and goods, as the individual is able to learn how to control oneself as well as gain a sense of responsibility.

Debt proved to be another main resource for the buying and selling of people in Africa, which is the third principle. "In Africa, where coin is not known, the slave is made a substitute for this commodity, and in each district a positive value is given him which is passed for currency and legal tender." There are cases of parents having to sell their kin because they were in such debt, as well as people selling themselves into slavery for a certain amount of time. These were not uncommon forms that shaped the familiar frame of African tradition.

The fourth principle of African slavery, according to Captain Canneau, contained those "inculpated with witchcraft, the Crim Con [criminal conviction] cases (not few in Africa), orphans of culprits, vagabonds who dare not to return to their tribes, and unruly sons." This shows a more focused rationalization to the enslavement of others, rather than just random selection. However, some of these are not acquired through choice but rather by birth, which proves to be a correlating perquisite to the American slave system.

Finally, Canneau states that gamblers were the fifth principle to the evolution to slavery. This however, was evident after the introduction of Europeans. The gamblers mainly focused on trading for their own personal gain, which will be discussed later. Nonetheless, Africans take chances on selling each other in order to try to make their life situation better. A primary example of this is the selling of a handicapped child in order for the father to buy a new wife in hopes of having a ‘normal’ offspring.

Slavery was not an uncommon theme in African life; nevertheless, the introduction to the European world changed the dynamics and motivation for African enslavement. The Portuguese, under the leadership of Prince Henry the Navigator, were among the first Europeans to ‘discover’ Africa. Europeans were trying desperately to find a new route to Asia and other middle-Eastern countries in order to speed up their trade. "Portugal which had the important advantage of being a politically united kingdom, looked for a route round Africa partly to extend the crusade against the ‘infidel’ Turks and partly to seek whatever material rewards might lie in wait." The Portuguese then established themselves in Africa during the late fifteenth century. Initially the attraction to Africa was the abundance of gold. The Portuguese were the first to establish trade with the Africans, and they set up their first colony. "Colonizing before 1480 the [Portuguese staked claim in] the Atlantic islands of Azores, Madeira and Cape Verde as well as Sao Tome in West Africa."

"Other Europeans, notably the Spaniards, had also developed an interest.. with the result that by 1500 some 175,000 Africans had been shipped from Africa to Europe." Quickly the attraction to African gold ceased and the main focus turned to slavery. The European countries learned that the use of human bondage could increase their profit margins in their new colonies in the Americas. They deduced that Africans could work on the plantations, which would in turn greaten the wealth of the country. "In the early seventeenth century the governments of northern Europe, particularly England, France and the Netherlands, whose traders were already participating in a small way, began seizing land on a large scale in America and the Caribbean for slave-labor colonies."

Xaymaca, now known, as Jamaica is an island located in the Caribbean waters, between southern Cuba and South America. Xaymaca is a combination of the words "chabauan [that] signified water, and makia, wood… denoting land covered with wood… in other words, fertile." The original inhabitants of Jamaica, like the Native Americans of North America, lived and prospered independently off of their lands. The natives were called Arawaks.

"The Arawaks were clear brown in color, short and slightly built but well shaped, with straight coarse black hair, a broad face, and flattish wide nose." These people lived peacefully until the Europeans intruded in 1494. These people were believed to have "crossed from the mainland, for evidence exists that [the Arawaks] replaced a more primitive people."

The Arawaks were soon assimilated into the European culture and bartering methodology. Christopher Columbus found Jamaica on May 5, 1494, on his quest to find gold. Instead he found a lush, loosely inhabited Caribbean Island, and claimed it as a Spanish colony. However, Columbus never saw Jamaica under full Spanish control. After his death, Christopher Columbus’ son, Diego, "ordered Juan de Esquivel to proceed to Jamaica with seventy men and organize it as a colony. This marked the true beginning of the island’s Spanish period."

Jamaica soon abandoned its respect as a free land, and soon turned into one of the many plantation colonies of the Western world. Although the Arawaks remained in Jamaica, their culture was lost due to enslavement by Esquivel. Native Jamaicans "withdrew frightened in to the foothills, [but Esquivel] pursued them with things that were ghastly in their Eden: gunpowder and steel, bloodhounds, whips, and chains." The Arawaks were unsafe from the bondage of slavery, and many died trying to unearth gold for the Spaniards. Spain’s "interest in the island soon faded when it became clear there was no gold to be found."

The death of the Arawaks was not purely from being overworked, they were extremely susceptible to European disease, and killed by the settlers for recreation.

In Hispaniola it is reported that the settlers frequently murdered Indians in sport, to keep their hands in use, laying bets among themselves to see who could most expertly strike off an Indian’s head at a blow.

The abuse of the Jamaican natives was just beginning. The African slaves were beginning to be introduced into slave life with the Arawaks. These slaves worked their lives on plantations so others could create successful companies that support this new tri-origin system.

The Dutch were able to build a new aspect of the slave trade, by gaining wealth purely on transporting slaves to the Americas. Their company:

The Dutch West India Company was initially the most successful of these early monopoly companies, the one most involved in delivering slaves to colonies of the other European powers, and the one that shipped the most slaves to America.

The Dutch became the most profitable slave traders. However, before this is possible the Africans were taken from their homes in the interior by other Africans and brought to the coast. This leg of the journey proved for the captured to be the longest, instead of the middle passage (the Atlantic crossing).

The Europeans did not always rely on the Africans to act as middlemen in the capturing of the slaves. The Europeans began their trade by kidnapping people along the shore of Africa. Then ties between the slave traders and Africans began. The direct involvement by Africans made a less threatening stay for the Europeans in Africa.

Africans slavers realized that by becoming involved in the trade they would become wealthy which would give them more power over their rivals. Therefore close ties between Africans and European tradesmen began.

European traders, singly or in groups, would establish themselves

under the protection of African rulers, who welcomed them for the sake of the imported manufactured goods they offered in return for slaves or other produce. The imported commodities were chiefly luxuries- textiles, hardware, tobacco, liquor- of a kind that seemed more attractive than those produced locally. They also included firearms. Slaves were exchanged for guns, to fight wars to capture slaves to exchange for more guns.

This mutual agreement between the African and the European slaver made the process that much easier. The Africans were able to gain access to new goods by kidnapping another African from their homeland in the interior of Africa. This is a fact that came to the attention of many Europeans and Americans after the publication of a slave narrative by Olaudah Equiano. He recounted his life of slavery beginning with the fact that he and his sister were playing in the yard when traders took them.

After the journey from the interior to the coast the newly acquired slaves were brought to slave fortresses. Many lined the ‘Slave Coast’ located between the Gold Coast and the Bight of Benin. The slaves were either held in confinement for a certain amount of time or they were auctioned quickly to European captains.

"I was a close watcher of Mongo John whenever he engaged in the purchase of slaves." Captain Canot recounts: "As each Negro was brought before him, Ormond [the doctor] examined the subject, without regard to sex, from head to foot. A careful manipulation of the chief muscles, joints, arm pits and groins was made, to assure soundness." The selling of slaves was a very tedious business. The people had to be inspected, as illustrated by Captain Canot, and those who are in failing health are disposed of. Many of the slaves were given pills and other drugs to increase their appearance for a prompt sale. The pills would puff out the chests of the male slaves, as well as would help their skin colors to return from a pasty gray.

The greatest slave shipping port in Africa was said to have been Lagos. This was located on the Western coast of Africa east to the River Volta, close to the River Benin. According to the diary of John Whitford when he primarily visited this site he saw "eight or ten strange-looking objects stuck upon stakes over the lagoon, with turkey buzzards hovering about… Curious to investigate, [Whitford] found [himself] amongst a crowd of dead Negroes, skewered like sheep in a butcher’s shop, with carrion birds pecking off pieces of flesh." This documented abuse even made the slaver shudder to think of what the slaves endured before their untimely death.

The slaves themselves who went through the process were ripped from their homes and loved ones in order to serve the European capitalist scheme. They were kidnapped or sold into slavery regardless of age, sex, or class. Men who were strong in their physical features were favored over any other type.

The first slaves reached Jamaica before 1517, when Jamaica was still under Spanish rule. They landed in the most successful port: Port Royal. Port Royal is now located on the coast of the capital city, Kingston. The slaver ship docked at the port after a long sea voyage, the Africans had now arrived at their new place of captivity, Jamaica. The voyage for the Africans was extremely long, no shorter than eight months, depending on where in Africa they came.

The new slaves were needed, especially the men, as stated before. Because of the extreme labor needed in order to cultivate a successful sugar plantation the men were preferred. Their tasks included:

"Clearing of the brush, digging of trenches, setting out of the cane shoots, the weeding and harvesting, to the very transporting of the canes to the mill which... was done by carrying the loads on their heads."

The demanding jobs set out for the Africans was done so out of trial and error. The slave owners did not only designate the labor to be done by Africans, but supposedly Europeans tried their hand in the fields as well. Nonetheless, "it is said that Europeans could not work as long or hard in a tropical climate as could Africans," therefore, the Africans were the labors of choice.

Few Africans themselves heard about the external slave trade, however, most remained uneducated to the horrors that remained ahead of them. "Some feared that they were being taken away to be eaten by their captors; the attempts by some slavers to explain to the victims the purpose for which they had been purchased failed to allay their fears." This fear is also expressed in the narrative of Olaudah Equiano, a former slave who became a prominent spokesman of the English black community in the late eighteenth century. He recounted his experience:

When I looked round the ship.. and saw a large furnace or copper boiling and a multitude of black people of every description chained together, every one of their countenances expressing dejection and sorrow I no longer doubted fate; and quite overpowered with horror and anguish, I fell motionless on the deck and fainted…I asked [those who brought me here] if we were not to be eaten by those white men with horrible looks, red faces, and loose hair.

After the auction the men, women, and children who were sent on board the specially made slave ships. The slave ships needed to have enough room below the deck to hold a minimum of forty (40) slaves, along with other cargo. "The actual purchase of the ship, collection of the cargo, and the arrangement of final papers and insurance typically took some four to six months to arrange." On a typical slave ship "a large complement of subofficers and skilled persons was needed aboard the ship, including a ship’s doctor, a carpenter, and a cooper or barrel maker." Therefore, when the transatlantic slave trade began to increase there were new technological advances in the dynamics of each ship. The Dutch came up with many ways to make the ships more ample to hold the cargo. The new ship model was "flat bottomed, [it] had a higher length to breadth ratio (4:1 up to 6:1), lower superstructure, modest sail plan (to save on crew) and was of lighter construction." This new technicality allowed for the increasing number of slaves to endure the middle passage.

There were two lower decks on the slave ships, and the middle one was reserved for the slaves, hence the term ‘middle passage’. The people were kept in this crawl space of three feet ten inches, "during the time the cargo was accumulating (three to ten weeks) and while crossing the Atlantic (six to ten weeks)." This abuse led to the mental and physical death of many slaves on board the ships.

Mortality rates among the slave ships during the middle passage varied. Between 1700 and 1749 the mortality rates were the highest along with the Spanish ships from 1590- 1699. One of the many reasons for the deaths of so many Jamaicans and especially Africans was the exposure to diseases by Europeans.

Much of that sickness was the result of inadequate food and water during the Middle Passage, as well as the diseases which were the inevitable result of the human excrement that was allowed to build up in the holds of the ships.

Other attributes to the decrease in the population of many slaves was starvation, terrible conditions, often the killing of babies born during the middle passage (since they were considered worthless), and the suicide rate was large. The possibility of suicide was only when the slaves were given free time to exercise on deck, which to the captain and crew was the time most likely for rebellion.

The number of slaves that were kidnapped from Africa, and those who lived to make it to the middle passage is unknown. However, the recorded number of slaves who made it to Jamaica has to be digested as the lowest number possible. "One authority has it that 496,000 Negroes were brought to Jamaica from 1703 to 1776, another that the total was 610,000 from 1700 to 1786." Whereas records that document the purchase of slaves from Africa between 1764 through 1788 only give credit to 34,010 people, leaving at the least 461,990 slaves unaccounted for. The inability to have an exact number of people was due to the fact that many slaves were smuggled, tax evasion, as well as many slaves died or were killed during the passage, as previously noted.

Once the slaves were settled in Jamaica they were forced to follow their masters, who along with the England were gaining wealth on behalf of the slave’s work. Jamaican slaves were used to cultivate the lands for exportation. Jamaica’s main commodity for sale abroad in the eighteenth century was sugar. The main driving source for the cultivation of sugar was because "the diet of the Europeans had suffered from a deficiency in sugar, which was regarded as a luxury for the rich, and a medicine for the poor." Europe demanded this delicacy; therefore, it became a high paying business on all three origins of the trade. Jamaica was soon used for its already well known fertile lands, to produce one of the most demanding farm crops.

The need to produce either slaves or products continually fed each other, which increasingly perpetuated the transatlantic trade:

From the middle of the seventeenth century the export of slaves increased terrifyingly as Africa and America were drawn into the developing system of European capitalism- Africa as a market for European manufactures and as a slave supply, America as a market and as a source of slave-grown produce.

Few businessmen, who by owned land in Jamaica, were obliged to pay taxes to the country they were under, England. Since they were away from the direct rule of the government they were still financially bound England. The slaveholders gained freedom and wealth through this arrangement, as did the ‘mother land’. An example of this is an English colony, such as Jamaica, which had a surplus of slaves working in the sugar fields. A certain percent of the profit made by the master went to England. England’s only commitment to this system was to continually feed goods back into Africa. However, these are not the only people who benefited from gambling with people’s lives, the captains of the ships also profited well.

Jamaica’s institution of slavery was a result of the neglect as a colony by the Spanish, which soon led it into British hands in 1655. Although the Spanish transported slaves they were used for gold digging. Slaves brought by the English were for plantation cultivation, hard labor. Jamaica was soon a "prized colonial possession" in the late 18th century. The plantations demanded more hands to make the land more profitable. "For sugar production a large labor force is required and it was out of this need that the African slave trade to the West Indies grew." The triangular trade system was at its height in Jamaica.

The transatlantic slave trade was overall prosperous however, the benefits from time to time fluctuated. According to Eric Williams, the slave trade was no more profitable than any other business. Williams, concludes that the only reason why the slavers continued in the business was due to "most of the credit mechanisms implemented by the traders and their suppliers and customers were in place before the trade fully developed." Nonetheless, the slave trade continued.

Captain Theodore Canot, on the other hand, when allowed to fill his first ship with cargo, was astonished at the immense profit that he made. On March 15, 1827 Captain Canot was instructed to use the 200 thousand Havana cigars and 500 ounces of Mexican coin to buy as many slaves as possible. He lists the amount each thing cost him from the ship, Fortuna, to the wages of the crew, to the cost and sale of the slaves. Capt. Canot was able to make a profit of $41,719.00, which was an enormous sum of money. This gain reflects the reason for people’s involvement in the slave trading business.

European countries that benefited from the slave trade reimbursed Africa with many goods that were not considered expensive. These materials consisted of guns, beads, and textiles. The Europeans were able to buy, if not kidnap, Africans for about a hundredth of the selling price. The African traders got around five (5) dollars a head, whereas the European auctioned them off for around three hundred (300) dollars per person in the Americas.

The involvement of the tradesmen both European and African in the slave trade was purely for personal profit.

Kings could gain more power. Clever traders could make themselves kings. But the economic systems, though they forced the Europeans to adopt unfamiliar methods, were ultimately overwhelmed by outside forces.

Africa remains economically dependent on America and Europe even after the abolition of the slave trade. According to a newspaper article, discharged by the Panafrican News Agency on December 6, 1999, a country on the West Coast of Africa, Benin is relying on funding from France to build road tolls. This shows that Africa needs economic support from outside countries even though the slave trade was abolished. Jamaica as well still depends heavily on the sugar trade, among other goods to be exported.

England was the first country that declared slave trade illegal in 1807. Reasons for England’s abolishment was economic.

"Economic motivations explained the wellsprings of the British abolition campaign against the foreign slave traders, because the British West Indian plantations from as early as the late eighteenth century could not compete with the French, Spanish, and Brazilian planters."

This movement proved to be one of the most challenging tasks taken on by the British. Liverpool, a town in England, established and flourished as a result of the trafficking of enslaved Africans between 1730 to 1807. "Liverpool merchants were among the most vocal opponents of British abolition" since they would be losing their profitable business. The other countries of Europe soon followed England’s outwardly moral example and outlawed the transportation of slaves.

Although the transatlantic slave trade was illegal, the process was still in effect. There were few attempts to monitor the trafficking of slaves from Africa to Jamaica, and to anywhere else for that matter. After the development of the slave trade there were individual side deals directly between Africa and Europe, as well as Africa and Jamaica/America without the third element.

The control over the plantations in Jamaica did not cease to exist either. Slavery still existed, only the slave trade was abolished. Plantation life in Jamaica, like anywhere else proved to be grueling. Reproduction among the slaves was encouraged, since the plantation owners were unable to purchase new slaves the need to regenerate their source was important. "With the outlawing of the trade in 1808… slaves would have to be encouraged to increase naturally or else the black laboring population would gradually age and decline towards extinction."

Encouragement is well noted in one particular Jamaican plantation, Worthy Park:

In order to be demographically healthy and self-sustaining through an adequate birthrate, it is obviously helpful for a population to have a reasonable balance between the sexes, a well-balanced distribution of ages, and to be well integrated. In contrast, the Worthy Park population was characterized at different times by serious disproportions between the sexes and by distorted age patterns…"

The age difference did not matter, as long as the female counterpart was fertile and able to reproduce more able hands to work in the fields.

Slave relations strained between themselves. There was a pure division between the lighter skinned slaves and the darker skinned slaves. The light skinned slaves would tend to the house, while the darker would tend to the fields. The white master or slave driver, whoever ruled over the slaves, would break down the family structure. In some cases, if the plantation owner was rich enough he would reside in Europe and have others govern their property in Jamaica.

Nevertheless, the slaves had no familiar structure. The children born to a slave was immediately the property of the mothers’ owner. The reason for this is to claim the child as a slave, the child is born to a slave, therefore, it is a slave. This proved to be a very smart tactic by the slave owners, because the child can be half-white, but is still declared a slave.

Rape was a prominent form of procreation, by either a fellow slave or the slave master themselves. The mothers gain of custody over the child broke down the family structure. Fathers were not allowed to have claim over their child even if they wanted to. In any event, relationships between slaves remained unrecognized among the slave owners. The reason for the ability to ignore connection between slaves was because they were not regarded as people; therefore, they had no rights to a ‘normal’ family life.

Procreation of female slaves was encouraged, especially after the abolition of the slave trade. The mother did not always welcome motherhood, along with the increase in numbers of pregnancies, there was also an increase in the number of abortions. The reason for this was to prevent the child from entering into a life of subordination, extreme hard labor, and unimaginable abuse. Abortion was not a result of an unwanted child, but rather a love so strong that she would rather kill it before subjecting it to the pain she was going through. Nonetheless, plantation owners needed to replenish his slave stock somehow they needed a new alternative

Smuggling also became one of the main focuses in slave trade after it was declared illegal. The slave ships were again remodeled to hide the slaves. The crawl space that the enslaved Africans were place in dropped down to two feet in height. The people were forced to lie on top of each other and on their sides in order to make more room. The termination of slavery proved to place the slaves in a more life-threatening situation.

Slaves were boarded onto ships exceeding their previous capacity. Since there are no laws that establish rules of the trade, the smugglers will increase the occupancy of the slave holds. Another reason for the increase of slaves, and the decrease of conditions was because the captains ran the risk of being arrested for their illegal activities. Captain McGhee, a slave smuggler, explains how he avoided arrest:

The most difficult part of the voyage was to get into port. The only way to enter the mouth of the Savannah River was under the black muzzles of the guns of the fort, and it would have been madness to attempt to enter with that contraband cargo in open daylight. Instead Captain Semmes crept into the mouth of the Great Ogeechee by night and ascended the river to the big swamp, and there lay concealed while he communicated with Lamar [a soldier bribed by the slave trader] in Savannah.’

Many arrests were made on account of the illegal transactions of slaves. According to the Senate, document 53, the 37th congress, and second session it reveals the names of captains and the vessels "arrested and bonded from the first day of May, 1853, to the first day of May, 1862." This record shows where the ship was seized, when libeled, when it was bonded, amount it was bonded for, and the disposition of the case and the amount received for the selling of the slave ships. This shows the attempts to end the slave trade; however, the dependency by traders in Africa, Europe and America was too great to terminate their occupation.

The amount of people taken from Africa to fulfill the need made by traders can not be a set number. The loss of documents or lack thereof makes it hard to estimate the totality of people taken from their homes in the interior. However, according to David Eltis and David Richardson in their article published in Slavery Abolition (April 1997) the state:

[Curtain, a slave historian] estimates the trade- up to 11.8 million slaves embarked at the coast of Africa and 9.4 million arrivals in the Americas- was substantially [a] lower [estimation] than most of the figures previously assumed by historians.

The removal of people, and transport to the Slave Coast was most trying on the slaves. After they reached the forts, the slaves were exchanged for goods by African leaders to European traders.

After the barter between the traders the enslaved boarded ships that would take them across the Atlantic. Once in Jamaica they were forced to work mainly on sugar plantations, that would in turn make a huge profit for the slaveholders. The masters were then required to pay a tax to the country they held their allegiance. This process was profitable for the European homeland so they continued their support of the trade. "The kings of Spain and England were each to receive one-fourth of the profits of the trade, and the Royal African Company were authorized to import as many slaves as they wished above the specified number in the first twenty-five years, and to sell them, except in three ports, at any price they could get." Then after the acquiring of money the European countries would then send more goods to Africa for in exchange for more workers.

The transatlantic slave trade incorporated many different elements of slavery and people. This process perpetuated the slave institution that was driven by the incessant need for personal gain. The countries wanted to be the wealthiest, the African chiefs wanted to be the richest, and the captains wanted fortune as well as the Jamaican plantation owners. "It was this labor [by the African slaves] that fed financial accumulation, economic expansion and the base for industrial acquisition, that is, the development of capitalism." Throughout each testimony it is evident that the slave process was so lucrative that it enticed people into joining the historically largest relocation of original people from their homeland.

Although slavery was abolished over one hundred years the memory is encrypted in minds today. A contemporary reggae artist, Mutabaruka, reminds us of the pains of slavery in his song "Remembrance". Reggae is in a way interpreted as a voice of the oppressed that should not be forgotten. Slavery was abolished; however, its repercussions are still being dealt with. The main point of reggae music is to identify history and in this particular song, slavery.


An afta suh much years

Wi still a cry tears

Fram offa wi foot dem teck de chain

Nowit seem dem pur it pon wi brain

So wi afi remine yuh

Wi afi remine yuh

Bout de rowin of de boat

De bodies dat float

De travel crass de sea

Dat rab wi libatty

Bout de missionary dem

Dem she dem a wi fren

Who rab wi a wi gold

An’ wealth untld

An’ de pie

In de sky

Afta wi die

Mi afe rimine yuh

Mi she mi afe rimine yuh


Bout de cotton a de cane

Dat wi plant ina rain

An’ de sun ina wi back

De whip dat crack

Bout garvey malcom lumuba an de rest

Woh walk dis lan’ wid a freeman plan

An blood di run

Fewi freedom

An de fire in wi eye

Wen wi si how much die

An de chain roun wi neck

Wi ooman dem teck

An whip whip whip

Mi seh mi afi remine yuh

Mi afi remine yuh

Bout colonial rule

Dat tin wi fool

Usi wi like tool

Meck wi wuck like mule

An dem mash up wi plan

Cause dem neva andastan

Fi dem religion

An de pain

An de chain

Still hang pon wi brain

An de sons that die

Wi still ask why

Mi afi remine yuh

Mi afi remine yuh



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African Origins of some Jamaican Slaves: 1764-88