S: The Middle Passage and What it Was Like; Told By an Eye Witness
BC: Honors World Cultures
FC: The Middle Passage and What It Was Like; Told by an Eye Witness.
1: Note from the author: No, I ain't gonna start this story with "Once Upon a Time" and end it with and "live happily ever after," 'cause that's not how it happened. This ain't gonna be a nice story, but something you ought to read anyway, because it will give you a good idea of what we (African people) were put through when your ancestors brought us into bondage. It started out as just another normal day in our small village. I was together with my baby sister, my older brother and Keko, our wolf dog, as we were getting ready to see our parents off. I was just a little girl of 12, big boned and strong like my mother. We usually stay home at our hut, but before mother left for the fields she told us to go deep into the woods before we start playing our usual games. She told us that the danger of being captured was high, as the slave traders have entered our region of Africa. My older brother promised to keep us hidden from the evil men. After she left we started out. We arrived at our favorite hideout, not far from the warning signaler, but not close enough to the edge so that people could see us. We did different activities, like made rock houses, and then my baby sister started to cry. As I was calming her we heard another cry.
2: This was not a normal cry. In our village we have a kid who sits in a tree and warns the village when strange men come to get slaves. This was the warning call. My brothers eyes grew wide with fear and so did mine, my baby sister just sat there chewing on her thumb, not aware of what was going on. We ran, but they ran faster and quickly caught up with us. Our baby sister was pulled away and I started crying. They stuffed a piece of cloth in my mouth, and it tasted strong like the medicine my mother used to clean cuts whenever we got them. I fainted of fright, but before I did I saw my brother screaming and being tied up because he was squirming. When I woke up it was dark and I was being carried. They had placed a dirty sack over my head and I couldn't see anything. I was so scared and didn't eat, talk, or respond to anything or anybody for the next few days. I could see my brother doing the same thing. After some days of walking our feet started to hurt and get blisters, but we weren't allowed to stop for a rest except for at night. Eventually I got so hungry that I ate the stale bread and drank the water they gave me. At some point we met up with other men, women, and children and my brother and I were separated. The men and women were tied up but the children were allowed to walk along untied.
4: I smelled salt in the air, and I wondered why. Then I saw it, a great big thing on unsettled land. It almost looked like there was an earthquake, but I couldn't feel it. The big thing had clouds attached to it, but they never drifted away. The other women I were with started to get anxious and chatted nervously between themselves. The closer we got, the scarier it became. I noticed a different color of people aboard the ship, a people who's skin was white and their hair was long and not curly. Some of the women started screaming "DEMONS! DEMONS!" and tried to get away, but the men who were controlling us hit them with sticks. When we got close, we smelled something with a vile, rancid smell and realized it was coming from the big thing that I later learned was a ship. We were hustled aboard and shoved down below. When I saw the sight down there I screamed, but one of the women grabbed me and covered my mouth, trying to comfort me. There were people lying side by side, and you could barely tell who was dead and who was alive. There were piles of human waste everywhere and the tubs that were supposed to be the toilets were filled to the brim. The air was stale and I had to gasp to
6: to be able to get enough air. I looked out of the opening they shoved us through and saw the black men who had brought us here being given guns to pay for the slaves. I couldn't help think, "How could they do this to their own people!" Then it was shut and we were left in the dark. I settled down in a tiny space next to a large black woman and cried and cried. She picked me up and held me, giving me a little comfort. She started humming an old African tune and I fell asleep. The next day it was nice weather, so they let us up out of the disgusting deck and we were able to get some fresh air. I was so afraid of the white men that I almost jumped overboard, but the burly white sailors who had demon faces threw me back. For exercise they made us do a dance to some drums, but the men, who were chained up, got their ankles all bloody from jumping. We only got a little bit of food and water a day and whenever I refused to eat, they whipped me. We were allowed to come up during the day if it was nice, but on stormy times we were made to stay downstairs in the "death deck" and they didn't even come down there to feed us! The "death deck" was very cramped, because the slave masters already there wanted to fit as many
7: people on board as they could. The smell was horrendous and I would often get ill from being down there. We traveled like this for weeks, and I don't remember much but the smells and sights. Many people died while board, even some of the sailors became ill because of the smell. Someone said that if the ocean were to dry up we'd see the trail that we took by looking at the bones. I learned
8: later that what we were on was called the Middle Passage. After traveling more weeks all of a sudden we heard the men on the top deck crying "Land Ho!" and I was frightened. The ship landed ashore and I was pulled up to the top deck by one of the rough sailors and even more started coming. They poked and prodded at me, and made me stick my tongue out. They noted about things on their white sheets, which I later learned was paper. Eventually, a man came over and looked at me. He chose me and dragged me off of the deck. He picked me up and placed me onto a carriage, and I watched all the sights and sounds go by. We came to a place where there were a bunch of people claiming black people for slaves. Then is when I realized something. These people were selling and buying actual humans like they were property! Just because they were different. I was so angry, but I didn't have much time to react because I was pushed up onto the auction block and people started yelling out numbers. This went on for a while until the auctioneer yelled something and shoved me down towards an evil looking man. The man took me to his plantation where I worked for years. I never saw my brother or baby sister again, but I found out that my brother died on the slave ship and my sister was never sent on the middle passage, but was sold to a
10: family right in Africa, since she was just a baby. I later learned from different slaves that the Middle Passage trail stopped off at different places. I was dropped off at the United States. Other ships traveling on the Middle Passage (also some on the Triangle Trade) went to different places, like Brazil, West Indies, Arab countries, and North America. I spent pretty much my whole life as a slave, but this is my experience on the Middle Passage and being sold into slavery.I hope that this has made you aware about slavery and the cruelties of it. Thank you for reading my story, Sheree, a former slave
11: Works cited page 1. The world cultures textbook. 2. The worksheet. 3. Site called The Middle Passage: Slaves at Sea, direct link: http://beatl.barnard.columbia.edu/students/his3487/lembrich/seminar5.html | This is a fictional story based on real events.