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Thursday, January 26, 2012

My short paper on slavery.

Current mood: amused

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So for my history class, I had to write a paper on slavery based on the viewpoint of a slave or master.  I chose slave, and did it differently than most.

If you read this, at least leave a comment on it, thanks.

They are taking us.

  Where, I do not know, neither do the others from my tribe. A common occurrence this, for tribes to go to war and take prisoners, but this time they seemed intent on taking us captive. I have seen 3 other seasons of war, and none compare to this. Women and children, from our village and others nearby, have been taken with us, bound with thick, heavy chains and placed in a single line. This is our 3rd day of marching, and it is now apparent that we are not going back to our captors village, for we passed by it halfway through the 2nd day. In all, we number somewhere between 500 and 600, closer to 500 if I had to guess. Many of our original captors have been replaced by others from their tribe; their Chieftain and his guards remain however. They are of the Gbe tribe; we fight with them often, always over land.  

  Our people, the Yoruba, are strong, feared by many, and war is our pleasure. From the time of youth, boys are taught the art of war. 3 days ago, many of our great warriors fell to the guns of the  Gbe. Guns have been with both tribes before, but never before has every Gbe warrior been armed with one. They succeeded in capturing almost 200 of our people, and the men are at the opposite end of the chains, away from their wives and children. At least two other tribes, one our allies, the other, enemies, are shackled alongside us. Akan men, women and children are seeded among ourselves and the Chamba, a tribe known for its friendship toward us.

We are all the same now; captives.

We all shall share the same fate.

  The strangest part of our procession, however, is not the jumbled, broken speech of the men from different tribes conversing, nor the keening of the women, nor the wails of the children longing for rest and food. No, it is the fearsome and chilling howls and roars that follow us. Many who had not seen  him believed him to be a wild beast, intent on slaying captive and captor alike. As our tribe was the last to join the chain, we had a glimpse of the fearsome man. He is tall, much taller than even our finest warriors of legend. He glistened in the sun, huge, casting a shadow that 4 men could rest in comfortably. The chains could not span his limbs, nor could the shackles bind him securely. So, he was led thus: A brace was fitted about his neck, the same we used to tether elephants for skinning. Leading from that brace was a chain, as thick as the central chain binding all together in our line. His arms were bound behind his back, and thick ropes encircled his chest, further securing his powerful limbs. He is a Zulu, one from the middle-lands, a tribe feared by all tribes. One Gbe, attempting to place a knotted cloth between his teeth to silence him, withdrew his hand, or rather, what  remained of it; the last 3 fingers, and a good part of the hand, torn off by this giants jaw. The other Gbe mocked him for his misfortune, but dared not approach their monstrous prisoner. Spear shafts were fastened into holes carved into the brace on his neck, in order to keep him at a distance from his tormentors, and night and day he fought them, always 20 paces behind us. Twice he managed to break the shafts, leaping at his captors with such a vengeance as should not be possible of man. The first time, one ear was removed as punishment. The second time, an eye. In his second attempt, he  managed to slay 3 of the Gbe, and received a horrific wound, snaking down his face to his neck, ending in a wispy scar upon his belly.

On the 4th day of walking, midday, we could feel the salt from the sea. When we broke free of the foliage, and onto the great expanse of sand, we saw what our fate was to be.  Two great ships waited for us, like guards of Hells gate. Rows of strange, pale, thin men wait on the shore, and just beyond them are many smaller ships, each on manned by 8 or so men, as thin and pale as the men upon the surf.

The chieftain of the Gbe strode out, with 50 of his warriors behind him, to the men on the sand. Behind the men were strange baskets, and the pale men began to speak; a harsh, pining sound.

The baskets had lids, and the lids were pried off; the Cheiftain began handing out jars and bottles to his men, who became joyous and merry, cheering and clamoring for the containers. More crates were opened, and from these the chieftain removed guns, many, many guns. Our puzzlement turned to hate.  

These Pale men were the ones who gave our enemies weapons, forever sealing our enmity with them.

  After a time, the front few prisoners were released from their chains, only to be shackled in a different manner, and taken aboard the smaller boats. One of these overturned itself in the rough waters, halfway between the shore and the larger of the two ships. Some of the pale men returned to  shore, but the other perished along with their captives.

The chieftain suddenly became very excited, and order the brute brought fourth from the foliage, where he had been thus far concealed. At the sight of him, the leader of the strange men smiled, and ordered one of the unopened baskets brought fourth. He offered it to the chieftain, who refused.  

Another crate was proffered, again, it was refused. They began to argue, clamoring in their limited understanding of one another. Then, the chief made his desire known. When he understood, the wiry man smiled even wider than before. He quickly surrendered his two small guns, worn at his waist.

After about half of us had been loaded onto the two ships, the Gbe departed, carrying their bottles and guns. 6 wiry men had taken charge of the giant, wary and cautious about his every move. I was one of the last to be loaded, and I watched the great man as I was being taken to the ship. All of the boats were at the ships now, unloading our people. The leader of the wiry men had been left behind, with 10 of his officers, and the other six handlers controlling their prize captive... Suddenly, without warning, he lept, just as he had in his two previous bids for freedom. The shafts shattered under the strain, and the 6 men uttered a brief, terrified howl, just before he fell upon them. In the time it took the wiry leader on the shore to turn in surprise, the six men were dead, crushed by their former captive. From my position, I could see the giant closing the distance between himself and the remaining men, who scrambled for their weapons. Sprays of water prevented us from viewing the spectacle in its entirety,  but in between the motion of the boat and the waves we could see what unfolded. Shouts of alarm rang  out from the ships, and the pale men watched in awe. He was almost upon them by the time they had collected their arms, swinging the chain fastened around his neck, and the harsh, thin voice of the wiry man could be heard from our boat. One shot, 2 shots, a roar, a chorus of screams, abruptly silenced,  followed by a shattered cry, and the surf was silent. Then, slower than the morning sun, a shape rose  from the tangled pile. He glanced about, then lept into the tide, dragging his chain with him. With every wave, we could see him, coming closer to our boat, while the pale men struggled frantically to  row away. I smiled; he is coming for us, even though we did nothing for him. I turned toward mynearest captor, who glanced at me, eyes filled with fear. I looked in his eyes and said, with an intensity I have never felt before,

Leo asubuhi, wewe atakufa.”

This morning, you die.”

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