It all happened so fast, but it just seems a blur looking back. The tribe who lived over the river came in night, they set fire to my father’s hut and many more and I could hear these blasts of explosion coming from wooden tubes. Along my journey I heard many, many more explosions like these. I ran as fast I could, faster than ever before with screaming echoes fading behind me, I came to a startled halt when they grabbed me, when they chained me up, when they captured me. I knew his face from somewhere but he looked relieved to capture me, like a weight had been lifted off him. I could see others who I knew, my sister, just six years old , was screaming with fear in her eyes, I tried to scream too, hoping it was just an nightmare.
We walked to a nearby village, once peaceful, now seized by the white men here our captures acquired more guns, money and food. The white men lead us from here for days and days in the heat till we arrived at a huge ship where like a herd of sheep, we were loaded on. This was the first time I saw my dad, he looked tired and exhausted, and he was being forced down the steps. My glaze interlocked with his and his with mine, I couldn’t blink, I couldn't waste this moment, and I would never see him again. It was mine turn now, to go down the steps, tears running down my cheeks. It became many tears but somehow refreshing in the heat. Surrounded by other children like me each with their own stories of capture, I felt fear of what will happen next and shock of what had happened. Our chains were unlocked but still the scars on my neck, hands and feet remained. As the women where involuntary loaded on, my tears glazed my eyes so I couldn’t see my mother, everyone just looked the same.
Just one week in and the foul stench started to build, many of us couldn't reach the lavatory so the floor became a quagmire. The floor was covered with blood and mucus from the diseased children many of them had the flu, smallpox or scurvy. If the sea was choppy then many of us where seasick, we were rocked from side to side. If the weather was better than we could go out on the deck, this is when some of the slaves committed suicide by jumping over board, and suicide was very common with slaves who asked to be strangled or avoid eating. The slaves who didn't eat where sometimes force fed with the pulp we were served. The food was horsebeans, yams and rice boiled to a mush and occasionally with a sauce of palm oil mixed with flour, water and pepper, we were given buckets to share between ten of us. Once or twice a week a white sailor came beneath the decks to the women, they were allowed to have intercourse, to entertain the sailors, of course the women had no choice.
Many of the children had died, luckily for them. We had been on the seas for months, only stopping to pick up more slaves. I didn't know if any of my family were alive still, still suffering from the heat and cramped conditions. One of the older sailors said that there was only a few days left, I was so happy that this hell would finsh. How wrong was I…
Life as a Slave-The Middle Passage
When slaves were captured they didn’t know what lay ahead because no had slaves returned back to Africa to tell them. The middle passage in the slave trade would be the journey from Africa to the Americas. Slave ships usually carried 400-600 slaves who would be tightly packed and would have little room to move.
Many slaves died in the middle passage due to disease but some committed suicide by jumping over board. Slaves would be punished by being hung or having their limbs cut off. On the slave ships it would be very, very hot and about 35c so bacteria thrived and disease spread quickly and it didn’t help with the slaves being so tightly packed together. The most common illnesses were flu, smallpox and scurvy.
The food was a mix of horse beans, yams and rice boiled to a pulp. It was horrible but it kept the slaves alive so as many as