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Why Race does matter
Published on April 6, 2008 By Bahu Virupaksha In Europe

The recent speech by Senator Barack Obama raised once more the spectre of race and slavery in the USA and indeed, in other parts of the world. On this anniversary of the Jamaican Slave uprising of 1768 I would like to reflect on this issue from a historians perspective. Race, I must add is too important an issue to be left only to social workers and politicians.

The rise of the Atlantic Slavr trade was made possible by a combination of 3 factors: First, the interniecince watrfare among the African social and tribal groups over pasture rights and clan territories. Second, the expansion of Islam that brought Arab traders to the West coast of Africa and thereby Dahomey became the most prosperous slave port of the Atlantiv. Finally, the intoduction of firearms and commercial agriculture in the West Indies, particularly sugar tobacco and later cotton. Jamaica became the sugar capital of the Western World due to the "industrial" cultivation of sugar by african slaves. I recently read a book on Thomas Thistlewood which gives a good account of the Jamaiccan sugra plantations based on the scripted consciousness of one of the most brutal slave owners of that region--Thomas Thistlewood, whose diaries form a good historical source.

Slaves were captured by raidindg parties which patrolled the African coast, especially the Atlantic coast. The Indian Ocean coast was also prone to slave raids but not on the same scale due to the rough passage around the Cape of Good Hope. The slaves were yoked to the neck and cjhained to the ankles and marched for hundreds of miles. History does not record the mortality at this stage of the passage. On the coast Euroean slave traders like John Newton, who later turned into a staunch abolitionist and penned that beautiful hymn, Amazin Grace, were at hand to purchase slaves at 10 to 20 pounds each. Mles between the age of 15 to 35 were obviously preferred. They were then packed in slave ships for the long arduous passage across the Atlantic. The slaves were arranged like sardines in the hold of the ships and an average slave ship could hold around 650 to 700 slaves. The living conditions were terrible and mortality very high. A 20 to 25 % loss was considered normal and we know the figures because of the famous Llyods Insurance was used to underwrite the insurance. Slave revolts were also comon and the retibution for such acts was swif and terrible.

In the Americas the slaves fetched nearly 4 times the price paid in the coast of Africa. Thomas Thistlewood writes that he purchased 4 for 250 pounds. The slaves were made to work in the sugar plantations and the brutal diary of Thistlewood shows how the female slaves were sexually abused and the males tortured even to the point of death.

With this history it is no wonder that there is anger and I think Conservatives are dealing with the anger more honestly than the liberals who only want to wish it away.

 


Comments
on Apr 06, 2008
And even in context, for the life of me I cannot figure out what you were shooting for with 'interniecince.')


Internecine.

I'm with LW - it's a chore to read something that's poorly spelt, and this is badly spelt. It takes a few minutes to run your blogs through a spell-checker and make corrections; could you do more of that in the future?

On the article...

How do you get to your conclusion that the conservatives are doing more than the liberals? I can grasp that people like Obama tend to rely on their shiny words, but what actions have you seen that show a new, more radical approach from the conservative side? Or do you think the same-old, same-old approach of traditional conservatism is the best answer?
on Apr 07, 2008

Sorry for the spelling mistakes. AS i HAVE EXPLAINED IN THE PAST, i HAVE PROBLRMS READING STRAIGHT FROM THE SCREEN and hrnce the errors. In any case, the responsibility lies with me and I must be more careful in future.

on Apr 07, 2008
I am not sure of your point, but your recounting of the circumstances and history is pretty accurate. Your last line does leave one hanging. With many questions on how and why. Perhaps part II?

I dont really see how it relates to Obama either.

But I will add that the only difference in the slave trade of the 17th and 18th century and earlier (and later) slave trades was in how the slaves were obtained. Most victors kept their slaves.
on Apr 07, 2008
I am not sure of your point, but your recounting of the circumstances and history is pretty accurate. Your last line does leave one hanging. With many questions on how and why. Perhaps part II?

I dont really see how it relates to Obama either.

But I will add that the only difference in the slave trade of the 17th and 18th century and earlier (and later) slave trades was in how the slaves were obtained. Most victors kept their slaves.
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