John Bachelor, Poro Society, Africa discussed on Coast to Coast AM
The men that you've mentioned, and it's good to know their African names were among the group being transported from Havana to the sugar plantations of Cuba and late June eighteen thirty nine and they were conspiring literally conspiring breathing together plotting in the hold of the Amish Todd deciding to rise up and Cesar Chavez. Vessel and try to make their way back to their native lands in southern Sierra Leone. So that was their vast ambition right away. We're going to take control of our lives and sail back to Africa to where we came from the men day country you note significantly that sin. It has warrior experience Grabow is perhaps a member of the Poro society. What's the significance of that for their conversation? The night at the night before and the night of the rebellion. Is widely known among the people on board, the honest odd as a warrior, he was trained not only in traditional mandate tactics and ways of war which included by the way, fighting with cutlasses as the weapon of choice, but he's also known to have been trained in the use of European weapons such as muskets. So his military experience is looming large as they think about the future Grabow has a different kind of thority. She was a member of this institution called the Poro society. This is important among the men day, but actually among all of the different ethnic national groups represented by Africans on the dot. And there were about ten such different groups, the Poro society was a crucial governing institution. In which the men it was an old male secret society trained warriors conducted rites of passage by which became men and crucially declared war. So that meeting in the hold of the vessel was all about the question as you said who is for war, shall we declare war capture this vessel and go home, the motive immediately is that these men from your piecing together their stories that they told once in America and for the rest of their lives were under the impression from Celestino the cook that they were going to be killed their throats cut. They were going to be cut up for food cannibalism practiced by the white man who were going to take them take possession of them when they reached landfall was that a common understanding among Africans that the reason they were enslaved was for cannibalism. It's very important to understand that in west Africa where tens and then hundreds and then thousands, and then tens of thousands, and then hundreds of thousands of people disappeared year after year after year. The question always arose. What happened to these people? So one of the most common beliefs in the interior of west Africa, where people had very few contacts with European slave traders directly was that these traders were in fact cannibals, and in fact, people were being eaten alive and in a poetic sorta way John it's true because the plantation system certainly sucked the life out of so many people. But anyway, this was widely believed in that encounter that you mentioned between Celestino and suitca which was really the catalyst of rebellion involve self esteem. Oh. The proud men warrior. This was as it proved to be a big mistake. Taunting him by drawing a knife across his throat. Saying you will be killed making a chopping motion saying you will be divided up into bits of flesh. And then taking those imagined bits of flesh to his mouth saying you will be eaten alive. He would actually tapping into a very deeply held belief. And this is the thing this isn't sent the Amazon Africans into a crisis, which resulted in that meeting in the hold and ultimately the decision to rise up and captured the vessel very early in the morning four AM the crew is asleep or sleeping in because they've come through a storm and a on deck manning the sales. This is a fast sailor a schooner. And I note that that is also significant here, why are they sailing in a coastal ship? One known for speed. What is the concern of the captain, Marcus? Well, one of the important background issues, which will actually be crucial to the way. The case is finally resolved by the American supreme court is that Spain had signed a treaty with Great Britain agreeing to abolish the slave trade in eighteen twenty and then renewed in eighteen thirty five so all of the Africans being imported into the dynamics slave colony of Cuba were literally illegal. So the coastal schooner always had to worry about British ships of war who by right of treaty could capture and and basically liberate all of the slaves that they had on board the vessel. Farrar would have been completely. Well informed by his owners that to be captured by the British means we lose all our assets. And you lose your credibility as a slave captain for rare understood this so well that he. He disguised the almost odd Africans a sailors as he marched through them through Havana on the way to the Amish dot he knew this very very well. And therefore because this will become part of the supreme court case, the pirates here the robbers here if anyone are the owners of Lama stat and the crew and those who've signed on for an illegal activity. That's exactly right. In fact, American and British law at the time had said that those people who engage in the slave trade illegal slave trade are essentially acting as pirates why this matters deal is because we're looking at the Braddock head for what becomes the second American revolution. The civil war in eighteen sixty the events of LA honest out honest between eighteen thirty nine and eighteen forty two when the court cases finally rendered in their freed completely that is a very. Burning story to all the men who will later become generals and commanders and politicians of the confederacy and the union, I note, for example, that grant is graduating from West Point just about this time at all would have been part of the current conversation in America about the details, but let's go to men day country, and we need to go to Africa to understand it. I'm John bachelor. This is the John Batchelor show. This is the John Batchelor.