Emancipation Day Celebration
Reflection on the evil, brutality and inhumanity of Slavery of Africans and Enlightening the present generation

Winston Donald

© Copyright 2023 by Winston Donald

Photo courrtesy of the author.
Photo courrtesy of the author.

August 1, 2023 was the celebration of the abolishment of slavery in the Caribbean Colonies. Black people everywhere can rejoice because of this event and all in the African diaspora can celebrate with those in the Caribbean. However, there is now a movement in North America and to an extent in Britain to discredit the evil of slavery - a shift by white nationalists, conservatives and white supremacists in the United States and Britain to deny that slavery was evil, brutal and inhumane.

So this article is one from the knowledge of an ordinary Jamaican , not from scholarship and academia and neither from a biased or prejudiced political leaning. It is written from documented history that even the layman and those ignorant can research for themselves. One does not need a PHD to relate and discuss documented atrocities to slaves from Africa and the dehumanization of people belonging to the black race.

Sexual reproduction and rape

Slavery had despicable sexual implications. Slaves were bred to replenish the stock of workers on the plantations and to defray expenses for purchasing and transporting new African slaves from Africa across the Atlantic ocean. White planters in the Caribbean and in the United States instituted a system of extracting as many new babies for the plantation by breeding slaves as if they were animals.

Male slaves were forced to have sexual intercourse year after year with women selected only for reproduction of children for the hard work on plantations. The sexual exploitation of the African female was never a concern of the white planter class. On the plantation slave masters selected breeders who would engage in sex with women sometimes 100 per day. At least that was the situation of Brazilian Breeder Pata Seca who lived in the latter part of the 19th century.. Female slaves could not refuse to comply with the demand of white plantation masters. Once the female slaves give birth to young ones, they were monitored methodically so that they can continue produce children for the plantations. The lack of regard for the mothers was demonstrated by the planters selling the children and preventing attachment of children to parents resulted in mental anguish for slaves and perhaps the effect is evident in the higher rate of mental disease among black people compared to the those of other ethnicities. In addition by female becoming breeding stock , family life was prevented and discouraged . It cannot be denied that the system of breeding slaves was a horrendous practice as it treated those from Africa as commodities and non humans. It dehumanized the African population in the colonies.

Rape was also common and rampant on slave plantations as the white backra massa indulge in the flesh of the exploited black female, slaves being acknowledged as the property and assets of white men.

Separation and division of the black family

As property of white planters , the slave family was not recognized nor respected by those who owned the sugar and other commodity plantations throughout the Caribbean. Slave families were frequently broken up. In the Caribbean and in the USA it was the usual practice to sell slave children to other plantations far away. When there was slave resistance, the planters immediate action was to send those involve in resistance or rebellion to far away plantations. It was not uncommon for the planters to sell slaves from Jamaica to planters as far as Barbados, St. Lucia or Guyana. The practitioners of slavery had no heart and no compassion when it came to dividing or breaking up slave families. No wonder the psychological effect and implications remain today in mental health of many black families.

When one’s children are forcibly taken away from you, it left a mental and depressive state on the human body. Imagine giving birth to children, nurturing them as siblings and knowing that at any time white massa can sell them to planters from miles where you live or to planters across the ocean where parents would never see them again.

Murder for insurance

Slavery destroyed the physical body and soul of the Africans, even before they were sold to the planters . One example is the dumping overboard of African human cargo by slave traders who believed slaves were their property and they had the power to dispose of them, if their asset base or net worth was threatened. In the case of the tragedy of Africans on the slave ship Leusden , a Dutch Slave Ship with cargoes from Elmina Castle, Ghana to Surinam, over 700 slaves drowned as a result of the evil and inhumane action of the white ship captain and crew . Caught in a storm and slowly capsizing , the ship’s captain and his crew saved themselves but deliberately nailed shut the hatches on to the deck so that the over 700 slaves in the belly of the ship could not escape. The Leusden sank to the bottom of the murky river and only in recent times were objects from that ship retrieved . To the white slavers, black lives did not matter as they saw slaves as their property which seen as a loss would ensure the proceeds of insurance rather than releasing them believing they could overrun the white crew.

In 1781 there was also mass killing on the Liverpool registered slave ship the Zong as 160 slaves were tossed overboard and the ship owners tried to secure insurance from Lloyds in England for this despicable act. And there were many more documented and undocumented accounts of the murder of the African slaves on board British ships.

Slavery created the modern western black underclass and health risk society

An implication and result of slavery is today’s underclass in every Caribbean and American society - a black underclass. Slavery ensured that people of African descent had no economic resources to ascend the economic ladder. Because black Africans were owned by whites and only few were freed prior to emancipation, the finances were not accorded to them to be owners of capital or members of economic classes above that of the working class or poor. Thus is the effect on the economical welfare of people of African descent that every country in the Americas you go black people are the majority poor- whether Canada, USA, Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, Jamaica, Cuba, Brazil, Nicaragua or Colombia. Incidentally, because of the plantation locations during slavery , whether sugar or bananas, we also find that the geographically cooler areas host mostly people of a lighter hue while coastal and hot areas are homes to people of African descent so health wise black mortality rates will be higher than that of white or light skinned citizens.

Flogging, torture and hanging and deportation – everyday expectation by slaves

Throughout slavery in the Caribbean, the planter class ensured slaves know there places by continuous flogging, infliction of pain and hanging. Images in the archives and libraries that provide historical materials shows the cruel and inconsiderate behavior of those engaged in slavery in the Caribbean. Floggings were common place on all plantations in the Caribbean and the Americas. White planters show their power by administering lashes that many times end in death of a rebellious or disrespectful slave. Resistance by the African slaves or uprisings on the plantations were met with swift death, harsh punishment and the usual deportation of “troublesome” slaves.

Sacrificing female slave women and to benefit white females

The African slave women in the Caribbean at times suffered more than men. They had to serve in all ways that can be discerned from the term “serve”. The African slave women had to abandon their family in favour of servitude to the white female and male plantocracy. The black female slaves had to cook , wash and do all the domestic household duties for a lazy set of white planters. They had to stand hours serving the plantation masters in the great houses including serving guests and party attendees. Female slaves had to abandon providing nutrients to their babies as their breast milk were used to feed the white babies as white women believed breast feeding their young ones would affect the firmness of their breasts.

Female slaves had to dress the white planters wives, perform hairdressing duties , perform bedchambers duties while the white women barely lifted a finger.

Slavery deprived the Africans of their culture

Under slavery social customs and religious practices of African origin were discouraged and banned. Laws were enacted especially in the seventeen and eighteen centuries to deny social and cultural practices such as playing the drums and dancing. Slaves were forbidden for congregating in most places and from leaving the plantation in search of lovers or family members. They were restricted to their quarters and rudimentary living facilities and could be flogged by the slave masters if found violating the laws.

Over 100 slave laws were enacted during the period of slavery in the British Caribbean alone.

Slavery purports that the slaves had no soul

One of the most heinous practice and attitude by the white plantocracy towards the African slaves in the Caribbean was to see and treat them as people without a soul. A learned Anglican Minister reminded me that slaves who had the privilege of going into the Anglican church (the Church of England) had to go to the extreme back as they were seen and treated as people who possess no soul. In this regard their religious welfare was denied and only the advent of missionaries from the Baptist, Moravian and Methodist churches enabled the slaves to become exposed to Christianity.

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