Emancipation For the Enslaved


I am reflecting on my ancestors journey from West Africa across the Atlantic to various plantations  in the Caribbean, North and South America. Today (1st of August)  marks the anniversary of the official abolition of slavery for most of the former British Empire.

Naked: breast perked, penis drooping; they stood under the gaze  and touch of the planter masters.

I can imagine their anger, terror and bewilderment on that humiliating catwalk.

White women poking, white men fondling, is this the behaviour of neo-classists?

They stood with chained hands and feet, a clear mark of an enslaved being.
[No free man arrives to work bounded]

Their dark oiled bodies gleaming under the gaze of that tropical sun.
Whilst their screams echoed with pain of family separation and the process of branding.

Enslaved, confirmed as property- chattel.

They did not fathom the horror of plantation life as they crossed hills and plains to that new way of life.

Clothes rationed, food rationed in exchange for long days of traitorous labour from dawn to dusk.

Whipped in order for the overseers taste, forced to plant and cut sugar cane and tobacco for Massa.

They came in gangs in the fields, the physically strongest worked the hardest task of cutting the cane.

Pregnant women and children formed part of the group , no one escaped that life of torture in the sun.

Well except the enslaved who worked in the factory.

Not much of an escape I would say because the heat of the molasses weakened many and the machinery claimed fingers, hands and feet.

Others enslaved did lose more body parts when they were tortured{on treadmills, horse whipped, chopping off a foot etc] by overseers when they[the enslaved] took flight in that grand maroonage but were later captured.

The house enslaved, many fancied lived a better life but they were at the mercy of the loins of their masters, some of whom document their sexual dominance -Thomas Thistlewood.

For decades a people suffered, they revolted, rebelled, they were desperate for the ownership of their bodies.

However, the British Parliament hanged to a system which cemented their foundation as an empire.

The gains from chained gang labour gave birth and strength  to families and companies; many are still alive and prosperous today.

Finally after years of abolitionist work coupled with slave revolts and a declining sugar cane industry, Britain officially freed the enslaved population in the British West Indies.

August 1st, 1834 marked an exodus from chattel slavery, the former enslaved became closer to complete freedom, however, the determined planter class ushered in the genesis of economic and social obstacles.


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