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The Slave Trade

Following the path laid out by the previous colonisers of Jamaica, the British sought to excavate great wealth from their colonies. This was done particularly through expansive sugarcane cultivation on sugar estates or plantations worked by large gangs of African slave labourers who toiled for long hours under the searing Caribbean sun to provide sugar in the teahouses of London.

These slaves were imported primarily from west Africa along the Gold Coast, they were often kidnapped from their homes or sold to British ship captains who traded these enslaved Africans for gun powder and silver. Once acquired these slaves were branded with the insignia of the ship’s captain and then stocked on the slave ships They were chained and tied together, crammed into the lowest decks of the ships tightly packed like sardines with little or no room to move.  The had to pass their excrement in the same place in which they slept or were fed. The conditions they endured during the Middle Passage from the Gold Coast to the Caribbean where deplorable. These unsanitary living conditions sparked the emergence of several diseases which coupled with the cruelty of the European sailors and the harsh treatment of the slaves claimed the lives of many. Additionally, some of the slaves on the few occasions they were taken on the deck of the ship committed suicide by jumping overboard. This they believed would ensure the repatriation of their souls back to their Motherland; Africa.  Upon arrival in the Caribbean the slaves who survived the journey across the Atlantic were prepared for sale to plantation owners on the island. They were washed in the seas, oiled, given more food rations to fatten them and alcohol to make them merry. They were then auctioned off to the highest bidder and taken to work on the plantations for which they were brought. Through this many family units and tribal ties were broken.

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