SLAVE TRADE & ELMINA CASTLE
As the original people of Jamaica were totally extinct
within a few years of Spanish occupation, they were forced
to bring in slaves from Africa. The first Africans that
were brought came in 1513 from the
herders of cattle, pigs and horses, as well as hunters.
Images of African Slavery and the Slave Trade.
Source: "Journey of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile"
by John Hanning Speke, New York 1869
Africans were captured in wars, as retribution for crimes
committed or by abduction and marched to the coast in
"coffles" with their necks yoked to each other. And these
war prisoners were normally sold as slaves in local
markets. This was indeed a common practice in all countries
from time immemorial.
is reflected in the Bible where a person may sell even
himself to pay off a debt or a child. But more often
their enemies who were caught as war prisoners. They were
paraded through the streets in chain as a declaration of
victory before they were sold as slaves. But in Africa this
took another turn when foreigners entered the scene to buy
African Slavery and the Slave Trade.
Source: "Boy Travelers on the Congo" by Thomas W Knox, New
Slavers were often transported considerable distances to
be sold to Europeans.
The Europeans brought in more serious powerful long
distance war instruments like guns. This gave the impetus
for the black middlemen to actually go into war with these
superior weapons just for the sake of taking war criminals
so that they can be sold at high prices. Thus the slave
trade took a serious turn
were caught you were put in chains and marched to a slave fort on the coast. Because
you were on foot that could take months. About one in five –
3 million in all – died in these death marches.
It is strange that I
went to Jamaica soon after serving Ghana National College at
the time of Kwame Nkruma for three years. I have personally
seen the forts and the place from where these slaves were
loaded into ships and taken away to Jamaica. These slaves
even included the Chiefs of tribess who were caught in war.
Castle of Cabo Corso
(Capecoast Castle) Elmina Castle.
This also led to the
buying foreigners to venture into capturing people from
nearby villages often with the help of the chieftains of
other clans who want to make quick buck. Once
at the fort you were put behind bars and there
you waited for a slave ship and a good wind. That might take
yet more months. And if the ship was not full it would spend
weeks or months visiting yet other slave forts along the
coast to fill up.
It took as little as a
month to get to Brazil, two months or more to get to North
so full that you had just enough room to lay down. Sometimes
you did not even have enough room to roll over and lay on
your side. It was dark and hot and airless and you lived in
shit, piss, vomit and menstrual blood. The ship’s crew raped
the women and girls. You had little to eat but even worse
you had little to drink: fresh water was extremely limited
on the high seas.
common. In the 1500s as many as half died on board. In the
1800s that dropped to 5%. Some who lived went mad.
So many slaves came that
not until the 1840s and the Irish Potato
Famine that more whites than blacks crossed the Atlantic.
The most common means of enslaving an African was through
abduction. They were placed in trading posts or forts to
await the horrifying six- to twelve-week
voyage between Africa and the
during which they were chained together, underfed, kept in
the ship's hold in the thousands - packed more like sardines
than humans. Those who survived were fattened up and oiled
to look healthy prior to being auctioned in public squares
to the highest bidders.
The Origin of Slaves from Africa
according Trans-Atlantic Slave Database
the African points of origin for the
1,019,597 enslaved Africans arriving to Jamaica:
Gold Coast (modern Ghana): 301,576 disembarked in
Bight of Biafra (modern Eastern Nigeria and Cameroon):
West Central Africa (modern Angola and DRC):
Bight of Benin (modern Togo, Benin, and Western
Windward Coast (modern Liberia and Cote d’ Ivoire):
Senegambia (modern Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea Bissau):
Slave Castles in Africa
Cape Coast Castle, Inner
Slave trading forts or
castles were built by the Europeans along the coast of
Africa, and sometimes on islands off the coast. At Cape
Coast Castle, under British control, the fort housed the
governor-in-chief, the director-general, the factors,
clerks, and mechanics, as well as the soldiers. There were
magazines, warehouses, storehouses, granaries, guard rooms,
and two large water tanks, or cisterns, built of English
brick and local mortar. Slave holds were established to
confine a thousand to fifteen hundred captives in the lower
level. There were also vaults for rum, workshops for smiths,
armorers, and carpenters. The fort was guarded by
seventy-six cannon and there was, in the armory, a
substantial quantity of small arms, soldiers' coats,
blunderbusses, buccaneer guns, pistols, cartridge cases,
swords and cutlasses. There were gardens capable of
producing plantains, bananas, pineapples, potatoes, yams,
maize, cauliflowers, and cabbages. Walks were planted with
orange trees, limes and coconut palms. There was also a
In 1637 the lodge was
occupied by the Dutch. Then, in 1652, it was captured by the
Swedes, who named it Fort Carolusburg. For a time, both the
local people and various European powers fought for and
gained possession of the fort. Finally, in 1664, after a
four-day battle, the fort was captured by the British and
re-named Cape Coast Castle. The Castle served as the seat of
the British administration in the then Gold Coast (Ghana)
until the administration was moved to Christianborg Castle
in Accra on March 19, 1877.
Slaves were kept at Cape
Coast Castle in dungeons while awaiting transport to the New
World. Around 1000 male slaves and 500 female slaves
occupied the castle at any one time in separate dungeons.
Each slave would be locked up for 6 to 12 weeks, waiting for
their turn to board one of the ships. The dungeons must have
been unbearable with hundreds of slaves crammed in together
and no toilet facilities. There were only a few windows to
let in fresh air, and a channel down the middle to carry
away urine and feces which completely covered the floor of
The nearby Elmina Castle,
also a major European slave trade fort, was established 155
years earlier than Cape Coast Castle. The Portuguese built
the castle of São Jorge da Mina in 1482, in a region rich in
gold and ivory resources. Da Mina means 'of the mine' in
Portuguese. The Castle is one of West Africa's oldest
standing buildings; it was the first permanent structure
south of the Sahara built by the Europeans.
Coast Castle, Ghana, Door of No Return
There is a church between the two dungeon entrances. On the
wall of the Church are these words from Psalms 132:14 ”Here
shall I rest for evermore, here shall I make my home as I
Psalms 132:11, 13-14, 17-18
11 Yahweh has sworn to
David, and will always remain true to his word, 'I promise
that I will set a son of yours upon your throne. 13 For
Yahweh has chosen Zion, he has desired it as a home. 14
'Here shall I rest for evermore, here shall I make my home
as I have wished. 17 'There I shall raise up a line of
descendants for David, light a lamp for my anointed; 18 I
shall clothe his enemies with shame, while his own crown
This of course was the
prophesy for the remnants of David whom God had promised to
sustain. Was this a promise to the blacks? Were they the
remnants God has prepared for the years to come?
IN EVERLASTING MEMORY
ANGUISH OF OUR ANCESTORS.
THOSE WHO DIED REST IN PEACE;
THOSE WHO RETURN FIND THEIR ROOTS;
HUMANITY NEVER AGAIN PERPECTUATE SUCH INJUSTICE AGAINST
LIVING VOW TO UPHOLD THIS.
Africans thrown overboard
from a slave ship, Brazil, ca. 1830s.
This woodcut was originally published in The Liberator,
the American abolitionist newspaper, 7 Jan. 1832 (vol. 11,
[Library of Congress photo, LC-USZ62-30833]
When the ships arrived at
Cape Coast Castle, the slaves would be chained and taken
through the 'door of no return' leading to the waterfront.
The slaves had little idea what would happen to them; some
believed that they were being transported to another land
where they would be eaten by the white men. Many of them
(10-15%, or more) would die of infections or illness during
voyage, which typically lasted five to eight weeks with good
winds and calm seas, or sometimes up to three months with
unfavorable weather. The men were packed into the ships'
holds in very tight quarters with no toilet facilities,
chained together, and infrequently would be allowed to come
up to the top deck to get some air and exercise. The women
were often allowed more freedom to move about the ship,
where they were subjected to sexual abuse by the crew.
They were mostly employed
in the sugar plantations of Jamaica.
They were resettled in a
land far away to start all over.
Based on the phoenix ship records, enslaved Africans mostly
came from the
(Ashanti, Akyem, Fante and Bono) followed by
Akan (then called Coromantee) culture was the
dominant African culture in Jamaica.
Portuguese arrived on the coast of Guinea in 1471as the
first Europeans.They built their their fortress on the
coast. In 1482 they called it the “Elmina Castle” meaning
the castle for the mine befitting the name of the country as
Gold Coast. This was soon followed by other Europeans in the
hunt for gold either in the form of mineral or in the form
of humans (slaves). Around 1650: The first Danish ship
arrived The Danes were the last of the Europeans to Arrive.In1661, the
Danish fort "Christiansborg" (sometimes known as Osu Castle)
is built in Osu (modern-day Accra). It becomes the home of
the Danish governor and later the centre of Danish slave
trade. It later became the palace for the president of
captain John Hawkins pioneered English involvement in the
Atlantic slave trade in the 16th century. Hawkins was the
first Englishman to deport Africans from the west coast of
Africa for sale in the West Indies. From the 17th century,
Britain joined the Portuguese, Dutch and French in this
large-scale, global commercial enterprise, becoming masters
in the trade in human cargo..
short time the main merchandise has become human life.
Enslaved Africans for plantations in the Americas becomes
even more valuable than gold. England, the Netherlands,
Portugal, Germany, France, Sweden and Denmark all competed
for the trade,
several Ghanain tribes got involved with the Europeans in
selling slaves to them. These included Akwamu, Fante and
Asante. They sold slaves in exchange for modern weaponry of
that time which in turn made them capable of success in war
with other tribes and for more war prisoners who became
commodity in slave trade with the European slave traders.
Britain passed a law to stop importing slaves from 1807. It
was not a decision to actually abolish slavery itself. It
was only in 1833 only slavery was officially abolished in
all British colonies. All British-owned slaves were freed.
Britain officially bought all the Danish establishments for
10,000 pound sterling and gradually became the power
presence in Ghana. The freedom loving powerful chiefdom of
Asante stood against Britain and eventualy resulted in
British-Asante war. Even though Asante were dominating
eventually they surrendered and Gold Coast became a colony
of Great Britain.
Great Britain dominates the region completely. Only the
Asante kingdom is still resisting British control. The
British efforts to control the Gold Coast and especially the
gold trade results in the third British-Asante war. Asante
history records a victory, but they only managed to hold
back the enemy for a few more years.
was proclaimed a British crown colony in 1874
As in all
other British Colonies Gold Coast became free under the
leadership of Kwame Nkrumah in 1957
Dutch and British forts in Secondi.
Dutch sold all their belongings to Britain for 10,000 pounds
including the Elmina Castle.
invited by the School that was started by Nkrumah to start
the GCE A level courses in Physics and Mathematics and I
served them for three years and did exactly that. It is
from there I went over to Jamaica.
Nkrumah suspended the democracy by suspending the
constitution. Ghana officially becomes a one-party state and
Nkrumah became a dictator. Criticised by the West, Nkrumah
now turns to the Soviet Union and other communist countries.
Arawaks died out, Spanish immigrants were forced to import
African slaves inorder to maintain their plantations. The
Jamaican Maroons are descendants of Africans who escaped
from slavery on the island of Jamaica and established free
communities in the Blue mountain, in the eastern parishes.
In Jamaica this group was referred to as Coromantie or
Koromantee. They were fierce and ferocious fighters who
preferred death to slavery. Between 1655 until the 1830’s
they led most of the slave rebellions in Jamaica.The Maroons
are mostly descendants of West Africans, mainly people from
the Akan Asante people of Ghana. African slaves imported
during the Spanish period likely were the first to develop
such refugee communities. Since they knew the mountainous
areas well, they were able to keep the Spanish landlords at
1655 English forces forced the Spanish, they left everything
and fled. Before leaving, however, Spanish settlers freed
their slaves and let loose all their cattle. It is these
freed slaves that established some of the maroon communities
and dominated the hill regions of Jamaica to became
independent fighting community of the Black. These remained
especially as a place where the slaves who dared to run away
could find shelter and refuge.
“Maroon” comes from the word “cimarrone” which means runaway
slave or savage in Spanish.
As was the
case elsewhere in the Caribbean, Jamaican planters began to
cultivate sugar in the latter half of the seventeenth
century. The plantation system of Jamaica relied entirely on
enslaved labor and the island imported almost a million
Africans as slaves. While the slave community increased, the
disillusioned British community preferred to remain as
community remained as a constant threat to the planter
communities since it provided a means of refuge to the the
runaway slaves. They also began to attack the plantations
as a guerilla warfare and took slaves to freedom. The
British Army “Red Coats” tried to fight them. The Maroons
established an early-warning system - using an abeng (horn)
to warn their villages of attack by the red-coats
Traditional Maroon house (sans the window and electrical
box). Traditionally homes were only used for sleeping and
storage - so there is no need for windows. Neighbors lived
close to each other and shared responsibilities for child
photograph from collection of Sir H.H. Johnston, a
government administrator and anthropologist. Jamaica,
Maroon War between the Maroons and the colonial British
started around 1728 and continued until the British
incapable of defeating the Maroons, were forced into peace
treaties of 1739 and 1740. Though more and more British
troops were sent into Jamaica they were no match for the
guerrilla tactics of the maroons largely owing to the easily
defendable, dense forest of Cockpit Country.
known as Granny Nanny, Grandy Nanny, and Queen Nanny was one
of the Maroon leaders in Jamaica. Nanny and her brothers
themselves were escaped slaves who had been from the Ashanti
tribe of Ghana. Nanny and one brother, Quao, founded a
village in the Blue Mountains, on the Eastern (or Windward)
side of Jamaica, which became known as Nanny Town. Nanny has
been described as a practitioner of Obeah, a form of folk
magic and religion based on West African traditions.
numerous successful raids to free slaves held on plantations
and it has been widely accepted that her efforts contributed
to the escape of almost 1,000 slaves over her lifetime.
settlement referred to as "the great negro town" in most
official documents is situated on the southern slopes of the
Blue Mountains in the Stony River Valley. A recent
expedition discovered the long buried remains of this town.
Its inhabitants were the Windward Maroons of Queen Nanny and
Captain Quaco who as an excellent guerilla fighter. They
successfully terrorized the plantocracy in that end of the
island. The town was captured in 1734 by a successful
expedition of white forces, prior to the signing of the June
1739 Peace Treaty.
Accompong is a
historical Maroon village located in the hills of St
Elizabeth in Jamaica. It was formed after the Maroons signed
a peace treaty with the British in 1739.
It is listed as one of
the two areas where runaway slaves settled. It was isolated
enough to be safe first from the Spanish, and then later,
from the British.
It is said that rebel slaves and their descendants wrested
land from the colonial plantation and transformed a marginal
mountainous reservation, imposed by a subsequent colonial
legal treaty, into a sacred landscape rooted in common land.
The treaty granted the Maroons their long-sought-after
However, when the Second Maroon War broke out in 1795, the
Accompong Maroons remained neutral and the British left them
At the end of the war, all the other Maroon settlements in
Jamaica were destroyed; Accom-pong alone remained.
The town of Accompong was named after the Maroon leader
Accompong, who was from an Ashanti family and was the
brother of a number of other Maroon leaders - Quao,
Cuffy, Cudjoe, and Nanny.
Cudjoe is credited for uniting the Maroons in their fight
for autonomy. Descendants and friends of the Maroons come
together in celebration of the treaty on January 6 each
year, which is also Cudjoe's birthday.
The Accompong Maroons share practices and a culture similar
to that of their African ancestors.
- Information from Accompong history documents.
William Cuffee, known as Captain Sambo, is credited as
having killed Nanny in 1733 during one of the attacks. Nanny
Town was eventually captured by the British and destroyed in
life and accomplishments have been recognised by the
Government of Jamaica and on March 31, 1982 the Right
Excellent Nanny of the Maroons was conferred the Order of
the National Hero as per Government Notice 23 Jamaica
Gazette along with Sam Sharpe.
abolished in the British Empire by the Slavery Abolition Act
the abolition of slavery medallion 1834
.Nat Turner’s Slave Uprising
PUBLISHED October 5, 2016
Nat Turner was an
African-American slave preacher in Virginia who led the
bloodiest slave rebellion in American history.
Beginnings and an Early Prophecy
Nat Turner was born into
slavery on October 2, 1800, on the Benjamin Turner family
plantation in Southampton County, Virginia. He was born with
several marks on his chest that family members regarded as
the marks of a prophet. Having learned to read at an early
age, he was considered an intellectual at the time, as it
was highly frowned upon to teach slaves to read.
Throughout his life,
Turner would look to the Bible to better understand the
reason behind the enslavement of his people. His wisdom and
natural orating skills led him to become a respected
preacher among the surrounding slave community. Early on, he
interpreted that the Bible said that slaves should remain
subservient to their earthly masters, but a series of
prophetic visions changed his views.
had a vision … I saw white and black spirits engaged in
battle, and the sun was darkened … the thunder rolled in the
heavens and flowed in the streams,” Gray quotes Turner as
saying in "The Confessions of Nat Turner." “I
discovered drops of blood on the corn as though it were dew
These visions convinced
Turner that it was his destiny to unite black men and women,
both enslaved and free, to overthrow their masters. For
years he waited for a sign from God to begin the fight for
freedom. On February 12, 1831, Turner saw a solar eclipse.
Upon seeing this "sign," Turner discussed his plans with
four other slaves, and they set the date for July 4. Turner
fell sick, however, and that date passed. Around August 13,
he witnessed a second atmospheric disturbance in which the
sun appeared bluish green from volcanic dust in the air.
On August 21, Turner met
with a group of fellow conspirators in the swampy woodlands
around Cabin Pond. The group ate a meal and took a vow to
kill all slave owners they encountered, including women and
children. They decided the first victims would be Turner’s
current master, Joseph Travis, and his family, and that
Turner should deliver the first blow.
The group traveled from
farm to farm, slaughtering whites and freeing blacks. Many
of the enslaved chose not to join the revolt, and some even
fought to protect their masters. At most stops the rebel
force grew, at one point reaching around 40 recruits. Over
the next two days they killed at least 55 whites. Turner's
presumed goal was to reach Jerusalem, where he believed
there was an armory that his forces could use to further
The group never made it
to Jerusalem and within two days were scattered and captured
by the local militia. Turner eluded capture for two months
by hiding out in the woods. Records show that out of the 53
suspected to be involved, more than 50 were brought to
trial, 18 were executed, 12 were transported and sold South,
and 21 were discharged to return to their masters. Of the
four free blacks brought to trial, one was executed and the
other three found not guilty.
is written that Turner was discovered hiding out on
October 30 by farmer Benjamin Phipps. He surrendered to
Phipps and was taken to be tried. On November 5, 1831, he
was sentenced to death for "conspiring to rebel and make
insurrection." On November 11 he was hanged.
it is estimated that
around 53 blacks were arrested and tried, 20 were hanged, 21
acquitted, and 12 transported out of Virginia.
Nat Turner's Aug. 21,
1831 slave rebellion in rural Southampton took dozens of
lives and sparked a brutal rampage of revenge.
Desperate to regain
control in the wake of the rebellion, white militias
unleashed a wave of violence and intimidation against both
enslaved and free blacks throughout the region. Many
innocent people who had nothing to do with the insurrection
were killed as a result of this campaign. In one case a
severed head was put on display at a Southampton County
crossroad. To this day, the street located outside
Courtland, Virginia, bears the name Blackhead Signpost Road.
In Virginia, strict laws were passed to further limit
the right of blacks to gather.
.A Changing Legacy and a Memorial
It is rumored that after
Nat Turner was hanged, he was then decapitated, quartered,
and skinned. Allegedly his skull and brain were sent off for
study, his fat was rendered to wagon-wheel grease, and
pieces of his tanned skin were given out as souvenirs. This
would have been done in an attempt to crush Turner’s legacy
and prevent him from being exalted as a martyr.
Here is the reaction of the Nat Turner’s Massacre.
Was he right? Was his interpretation of the Bible correct?
regretted to see that, in the Association of the Shiloh
district of colored Baptists, held in Manchester few days
since, the horrid massacre set on foot by Nat. Turner in
Southampton in 1830 was alluded to with the appearance of
much eclat and parade. The delegates from that county were
referred to as coming from the county “where Nat. Turner
struck the ﬁrst blow for freedom,” and they were marched
forward, and there was much shaking of hands and general
felicitation upon the occasion. Now this was all very bad
and very much out of place. Nat Turner's massacre was the
most barbarous and brutal of all the human butcheries of
this century. Studying the moon more than he did the Bible
and the fantastical shapes in the clouds more than the
principles and sentiments of justice and humanity, the poor
monomaniac Turner set on foot the bloody and savage
massacre, in which men, and women, and innocent girls, and
even helpless ‘babes, were slaughtered by his insensate
followers. It was a horror of horrors, a brutal and
phrensied shedding of human blood, such as has never been
exceeded in its unprovoked and brutal character.
It was a
bad-hearted set in the Moderator Williams (colored) to call
up such a horrid reminiscence as worthy of special
commendation. We suppose that few persons of the colored
congregation present were aware of the true nature of the
Southampton feast of blood. That very year the people of
Virginia. were strongly inclined to the abolition of
JEFFERSON had exerted a. powerful influence. once on the
public mind by his views against the practical benefits of
slavery, end. his serious apprehensions as to the injury it
would inflict upon his State. The Convention of 1829-30 came
near adopting a measure for the prospective abolition of
slavery; and but for the efficiency of Messrs. Arthur
Tappan, his brother, and Garirson and others, it was then
believed such a measure would have passed the Convention.
The horrors of Southampton reversed the tide of sentiment in
the legislature which succeeded the Convention, and
abolition was postponed indeﬁnitely. "First blow, for
freedom," indeed ! It was the deadliest blow to kind feeling
for the blacks and to the growing sentiment in favor of
abolition which could have been inﬂicted. It was an event
horrible to all men, civilized. and savage, and which should
not be revived by any one save for deprecation and
Mr. Williams would much better subserve the cause of
Christianity- would much better advance the interests of the
colored people and inculcate the kind and conciliatory
feeling which is indispensable to peaceful and prosperous
relations between the blacks and the whites- if he would
refrain from reviving such bloody and revolting
recollections. But to revive them only to endorse them is an
act of hostility. It can receive no other interpretation.
The Rev. Mr. Colver, of Massachusetts, who is reported to be
a kind-hearted and philanthropic man, was present, and would
have done himself credit and subserved the cause of justice
by excepting to the use made of that horror of horrors -the
teachers of the. blacks of Virginia, who ﬁnd it to their
interest to separate them from the great body of the people
for party purposes, are weaving in with their orations such
reminiscences as may accomplish their objects; all of which
tend to foment bad feeling and suggest distrust in the minds
of the freedmen of the people amongst whom they live, and
upon whom they must depend for employment—the people with
whose welfare theirs is clearly identiﬁed. But these things
will pass away. The blacks will ﬁnd out the shallow-hearted-
ness of the unscrupulous and selﬁsh persons who are widening
the breach between them and those whose prosperity is
theirs, and whose peace alone can give them repose; and they
will curse the day when they listened to the cunning and
heartless stories of the hypocrites now misleading them.
Barbados, by Richard Ligon, ca. 1647-50, Latin American
Library, Tulane University. Ligon, who lived in Barbados
between 1647 and 1650, wrote about the enslaved society that
contributed a significant number of the first permanent
African descended settlers in Carolina. Large sugar estates
identified on Ligon's map occupied the best land on the
island, displacing many small farmers. By the mid
seventeenth century, an enslaved black majority grouped
together on large plantations was a constant source of
anxiety to the declining white population. Ligon may have
been thinking of a failed slave revolt that took place in
Barbados in the 1640s when he included the drawing of
runaways being pursued by the militia on the map. The
militia were responsible for controlling the slave
population and defending white English rule on the island.