Life Of A Slave: A Brief View

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It was early afternoon in February 1659 as the sun lashes down on the elongated sandy beach where the Atlantic kisses the coast. At the mouth of the river there is a very large fortress made of stone surrounded by my village of rough huts decorated in their bizarre rows and columns. Further inland my village is swamp with mangrove where insects buzzed to their neighbours in the jungle beyond.

I was standing at a point of my village viewing the sea, when sighting a huge canoe coming towards me. As the object came closer, I heard men of a different nation speaking, they look different with white complexion, blue eyes, yellow hair as they plunge their flat paddles into the water. Quickly they drew nearer, dragging their boats on the sandy beach. They broke into the gates, capturing some of my friends just as I alerted people close by of the attack. I tried to run to let others know what was happening when gun shots sailed around. Suddenly I felt someone leaped on my back, pressing me down- it was one of the strange men, soon another of his kind chained my neck and arms. I was in pain and I struggled to free myself but it was in vain, I am captured.

They dragged me and soon I realized that some of my friends, family and village members suffered the same fate. Some march like soldiers but others dragged by the strange people and some  fellow men. How could they help, the strange people do such! They put us in forts, as more and more people with same skin as me but spoke a different tongue filled he cell in the fort. The sound in the air was rattling of chains, smacking of whips and groans and cries. We could not stir from the ground when we were lashed in the most horrible way.

On the large canoe, they chained me to a piece of iron laying flat down. We were packed like stacked meat, so they could carry as many of us as possible. Me, women and children , chained closely together. On the overcrowded large canoe there was constant danger of death and disease and although there was a doctor on board, little he could do to prevent the deaths. Those who died were thrown overboard and some attempted suicide by jumping into the sea or refusing to eat. In some cases, the strange men forced food down the throat of anyone who did not eat, to keep them alive. Often some of my fellow men planned to revolt and overpower the crew but the plans never worked.

At last the seasick tiring journey came to end when we pulled to the coast of new land, later I learned it is called an island the West Indies. Those of us alive and not too feeble to move, received a much needed cleaning and oiling. The oil made us look healthy and strong, as we stood before more strange men who examined us for purchase. I did not know what happened to  my family members but now some stranger took me and others to a place of vast land with a large house and smaller houses in the distance and fields of a crop-cane.

I immediately became part of a carefully organized system of labour. I worked in the fields with a gang of men and women cutting, bundling and loading cane. As I worked steadily I began singing one of  my song from home, whilst the man in charge on the horse stood watching us work. If any of us stopped for a minute too long he lashed. I learned the hard way, once I stopped to catch my breath for a while too long for him, I felt a strong current pass through my body as he taste my back with his whip. Work was very early in the morning till very late in the evening, during harvest season we sometimes laboured back to our houses in the dark under the moon’s gaze. Sometimes when the man in charge looked elsewhere for just too long, I sucked the can juice to cool my thirst.  The strange men gave us  little food, a thin piece of bread and some water. Some of the other workers planted food near our houses and that helped with our meals. The men in the mill worked from dusk to dawn turning the cane into juice. When I rested, I thought about home and my family, I looked at my body with bruises and scars and moaned for home.

In time, I learned the language of the strange man and his family but they did not want us to write their language or try to read a book of their own but secretly I made one of the women working in the house teach me many things. I needed to return home but I wait for the good moment.

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