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David Dabydeen

Africanslave who arrived in England and recorded his experiences in a narrative. Details of Asa‐Asa's birth and death are unknown. He was captured from his home in Bycla, near Egie, West Africa, and was eventually placed aboard a French vessel called The Pearl. Owing to severe weather conditions, the ship landed in the port of St Ives, Cornwall. Subsequently, Asa‐Asa and four other shipmates were taken to London. While in England, he wrote the ‘Narrative of Louis Asa‐Asa, a Captured African’ (1831 which details his family background the invasion of the Adinyes or the African slave traders who set fire to his village as they sought to kill torture or capture its inhabitants and his experiences on the ships that eventually led him to England Prior to his arrival he was taken to various places and sold numerous times After six months of journeying ...

Article

Mohammah Baquaqua was born in 1824 in Zoogoo, (probably a small village in present-day Angola) in central Africa, to a fairly prosperous family. He was raised in an Islamic household and was sent by his father to the local mosque to study the Qur'an (Koran), the sacred text central to Islamic worship. Unsatisfied with school, he left to learn the trade of making needles and knives with his uncle in another village. Baquaqua was captured and enslaved after a struggle for the succession of the local throne. His brother managed to find someone who was able to purchase Baquaqua's freedom. Baquaqua returned to his hometown and became a bodyguard to the local king, where he noted the corruption of the royal armed forces that looted the citizens of the city.

A group of individuals apparently envious of his close association with the king engineered Baquaqua s capture and ...

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Jeremy Rich

writer and escaped slave, was born probably in 1824 in the town of Djougou located in what is now northern Benin Djougou was an important trading town with close commercial connections to the kingdom of Dahomey to the south and the sultanate of Nupe to the east Baquaqua s family which spoke Dendi as their first language was deeply involved in long distance trade His mother was originally from the Hausa speaking town of Katsina far to the east of Djougou while his father claimed Arab descent He probably spoke Hausa as well as the Arabic he learned in qurʾanic school Baquaqua traveled on caravans to the east and west of Djougou at the behest of his father However he did not want to follow his father s wish that he become a Muslim scholar so he stayed with one of his maternal uncles a well connected Hausa trader ...

Article

Ana Raquel Fernandes

Prominent 19th‐century African‐American abolitionist who escaped to England. Brown was born into slavery on a plantation in Richmond, Virginia. After having been forcibly separated from his wife and children, Brown and a white friend, Samuel A. Smith, conceived an ingenious plan for his escape from slavery. In March 1848 Brown hid in a wooden crate supposedly containing dry goods, and had himself shipped via the Adams Express Company to William H. Johnson, an abolitionist sympathizer. Having arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a free state, Brown claimed his freedom and thereafter took the name ‘Box’ as his own. With the help of anti‐slavery friends, he became an abolitionist lecturer and author. In 1849Charles Stearns wrote and published ‘Box’ Brown's narrative of his daring escape. A year later, however, with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 fearing possible capture and return to slavery Brown fled instead ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Ottobah Cugoano was born in Ajumako, Ghana, and was abducted by slave traders in 1770. Horrified by the atrocities he experienced on the Middle Passage voyage, he exclaimed, “Death was more preferable than life, and a plan was concerted amongst us, that we might burn and blow up the ship, and to perish all together in the flames.” Though the plan was thwarted, the radicalism that marked the effort remained a theme in Cugoano’s life. Cugoano was bought by a white man in the West Indies and in 1772 was taken to England, where he learned to read and write and was baptized. His whereabouts are unknown until 1786 when he and another black man informed the abolitionist lawyer Granville Sharp of the unjust treatment of a slave tied to a mast by his owner At the time Cugoano worked for the court painter of the Prince ...

Article

James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw’s idyllic childhood as a prince in the area that is now Nigeria came to an abrupt end when a merchant persuaded the teenaged Gronniosaw to travel to the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana) and then sold him into American slavery. Years later, in Great Britain, Gronniosaw related his story to a Dutch woman, who wrote and published Narrative of the Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, An African Prince, related by himself (1770). Class-conscious British readers were sympathetic to the story of the victimized African prince; the book was widely read and later influenced the British slave narratives of the authors and abolitionists Olaudah Equiano and Ottobah Cugoano Gronniosaw was a slave to several Dutch families in colonial New England His last owner was Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen a Dutch Reformed minister in New Jersey who bought Gronniosaw ...

Article

Vincent Carretta

spiritual autobiographer, was born around 1705 in what is now northeastern Nigeria. He was the youngest child of the oldest daughter of the king of Bornu. Gronniosaw alienated himself from his friends and relatives by constantly challenging their faith in physical objects and by his growing belief in the existence of an uncreated creator. “Dejected and melancholy,” Gronniosaw accompanied a trading African merchant to the Gold Coast, more than a thousand miles away, where he had been promised that he could play with boys his own age and “see houses walk upon the water with wings to them, and the white folks.” The local king on the Gold Coast, however, thought him a spy and decided to behead him. Gronniosaw’s obvious courage in the face of death caused the king to sell him into slavery instead.

Gronniosaw successfully implored a Dutch captain to purchase him after a French slave trader ...

Article

African slave who lived in England and recorded his experiences in a narrative. His Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, an African Prince, as Related by Himself (1790) was published when he was 60 years old. It was written down by Shirley Walter, a young Christian woman from the town of Leominster, who was initially interested in Gronniosaw's story for personal reasons, but eventually published the narrative to expose the realities of his life, as well as to aid Gronniosaw and his family financially. The profits from the sales of the narrative were entirely received by him.

Gronniosaw was born in Bournou Nigeria of a royal family His mother was the eldest daughter of the King of Bournou and he enjoyed a happy childhood his grandfather doted on him A deeply curious child Gronniosaw was perplexed by spiritual divine ...

Article

David Dabydeen

African‐American seaman, probably a slave, who was injured and treated in London while fighting the French in the Napoleonic Wars. The years of Hammon's birth and death are unknown. Hammon published a narrative of his life, Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings and Suprizing Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro Man, in 1760. Nothing is known of his life apart from what is recorded in the narrative.

The question of whether he was a slave or not is not entirely known, although he was the servant of a General John Winslow of Marshfield, Massachusetts. He was separated from his master in 1747 and became a captive of the Spanish on his many sea travels He travelled for almost thirteen years enduring various hardships such as imprisonment and enslavement During his travels Hammon held various jobs Notably he worked as a cook aboard a slaver that was bound for ...

Article

Cecily Jones

The first female African‐American author of a fugitive slave narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861). Born in North Carolina to an enslaved mother, who died when Jacobs was aged 6, she then lived with her grandmother and her mistress, from whom she learnt to read and write. Following her mistress's death, Jacobs was sent to Dr James Norcom, who subjected her to prolonged physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. To avoid Norcom's unwanted sexual attentions, Jacobs began a relationship with a white attorney, with whom she had two children.

Hoping that by running away she might persuade Norcom to sell her children to their father, in 1835 Jacobs concealed herself above a storeroom in her grandmother's house, before escaping to the North in 1842. She joined a circle of abolitionists who worked for the North Star, Frederick Douglass's newspaper. In 1853 ...

Article

David Dabydeen

African preacher who travelled around England and Ireland sermonizing. Jea was born in Old Callabar, Africa, and at the age of 2½ was taken, along with his family, to North America, where they became the slaves of Oliver and Angelika Triebuen. They were ill‐treated and not properly clothed and fed. Working hours were long and intense, as Jea records in his narrative The Life, History, and Unparalleled Sufferings of John Jea, the African Preacher (1815).

The text captures his life as a slave his rebellion against Christian hypocrisy the finding of his faith his travels and the significance of his sermonizing Laden with quotations from the Bible it is itself a piece of Jea s preaching often questioning the virtues and beliefs of his readers Following his discovery of Christianity at the age of 15 when as he writes the Lord was pleased to remove gross darkness superstition ...

Article

Jeffrey Green

American missionary, author, and evangelist. He had been a house slave in Virginia, but reached England in 1876, where he and his brother‐in‐law studied at Spurgeon's College. He became a Baptist missionary in Cameroon in 1878–9, but ill health forced him out. He then promoted self‐help ideas among American Blacks, travelling widely in the United States. He gathered sufficient support in Britain and Ireland to send Dr T. E. S. Scholes and a carpenter named Ricketts (both from Jamaica) to the Congo. In Britain he associated with the evangelist Henry Gratton Guinness, the Anti‐Slavery Society, the Pan‐Africanist Henry Sylvester Williams, and the choirmaster Frederick Jeremiah Loudin. In 1900 Johnson became a British citizen. He now lived in Bournemouth, where he was a well‐respected individual who would talk of American slavery, tropical Africa (where his first wife, Henrietta, had died), and the Christian message.

First published ...

Article

John Gilmore

The first black woman in Britain to be the subject of a biographical narrative. Prince was born into slavery in Bermuda, and lived as a slave there, in the Turks and Caicos Islands (probably in Grand Turk), and in Antigua. Around Christmas 1826, while she was living in Antigua, she married in the Moravian Church a free black man called Daniel James, an action that greatly annoyed her owners, a local merchant called John Wood and his wife.

In 1828 she went to England with the Woods and worked for them without wages in the house they occupied in London Continued ill treatment led her to quarrel with the Woods who threatened to turn her out of the house They appear to have felt that as she knew no one in Britain and would wish to return to her husband in Antigua she would eventually be forced ...

Article

Leyla Keough

The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave, Related by Herself (1831) was the earliest account that gave a firsthand description of the brutality women suffered under slavery. Mary Prince's autobiography became very popular and stirred debate on slavery and the treatment of slaves in the West Indies. Describing the harsh conditions she faced in the West Indies, Prince countered biased white accounts that “slaves don't want to get out of slavery.” As she explained, “They [whites] put a cloak about the truth. It is not so. All slaves want to be free. … I have been a slave myself—and I know what slaves feel—I can tell by myself what other slaves feel, and by what they have told me.” With these words she became the first black woman to challenge the words of whites on behalf of all black people.

Born a slave in Bermuda ...

Article

Vincent Carretta

author, is now best known for the posthumously published two-volume Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African (London, 1782), edited by Frances Crewe, one of his younger correspondents. Virtually the only source of information about the first thirty years of Sancho’s life is Joseph Jekyll’s anonymously published biographical preface to the Letters According to Jekyll Sancho was born on a slave ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to the Spanish colony of New Granada present day Colombia Jekyll reports that the bishop of Granada baptized him naming him Ignatius Shortly thereafter his mother died of disease and his father committed suicide rather than endure slavery The unnamed owner of the orphan brought him to England when he was two years old and gave him to three unmarried sisters in Greenwich They surnamed him Sancho because they thought that the pudgy toddler resembled the fictional Don Quixote s ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Africanwriter whose letters, published posthumously in 1782, became best‐seller, attracting 1,181 subscribers including the Prime Minister, Lord North.

Sancho was born on board a slave ship en route to the West Indies. His mother died soon after, of a tropical disease, and his father chose to commit suicide rather than endure slavery. Sancho was brought to England by his master, at the age of 2 or 3, and given to three maiden sisters living in Greenwich. The sisters named him Sancho, thinking he resembled Don Quixote's squire. They kept him in ignorance, not teaching him to read or write. He was rescued by the Duke of Montagu who lived nearby in Blackheath The Duke encountering the boy by accident took a liking to his frankness of manner and frequently took him home where the Duchess introduced him to the world of books and of high culture He ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Ignatius Sancho was born on a slave ship en route to the West Indies; both of his parents died during the journey, casualties of the Middle Passage. Never having lived in Africa, Sancho was in many ways a product of Western civilization. His letters, written between 1768 and 1780, and published posthumously in 1782, proved to the English public that an African could not only master the language and literature of England but become a discriminating reader and a discerning critic.

Upon arriving in Britain, Sancho was bought by three sisters in Greenwich who treated him poorly and denied him education. But the sisters' neighbors, the Duke and Duchess of Montague, were impressed by Sancho's curiosity about books and his quick mind and secretly lent him materials to read. In 1749 when the sisters threatened to sell him into American slavery Sancho fled to the ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

African slave-narrative author, was born around 1729 in the town of Dukandarra It appears that this town was located in Guinea Conakry although the lack of detail in Smith s autobiography limits historians ability to verify the exact location He was born under the name Broteer He claimed to be from a royal family A large army attacked his town took Smith prisoner and enslaved the young boy Smith later was convinced that the raiders had been hired by some white nation but they were in reality Bambara chiefly Mali soldiers The raiders took Smith and his family to the town of Anamaboe a trade center located in modern Ghana on the upper Volta River He was eventually brought down to the coast of Ghana where an English ship steward Robertson Mumford purchased Smith for four gallons of rum and a small amount of calico cloth Mumford renamed the ...