Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Indigenous Africans in America Pt. 2 - Where are the Slave Ships?

There is a growing belief that the Atlantic Slave Trade is a myth and that the black people you see around you were always in America. 
 The idea is that "they lied to you and indoctrinated you with the huge fairytale that we came from Africa during the Slave Trade." A major proponent of this idea is Dane Calloway. Some of his videos are here: 

He does an excellent job of poking holes in largely irrelevant issues in various presentations of the history of the Atlantic Slave Trade. He does this to shore up his claim that black people were already in America before Columbus, most likely because he knows there is no solid evidence for that claim, as explained in part 1 of this article.

One area he questions is the general consensus on exactly how many slaves were brought to the Americas. It is an estimate, not a hard number, so he uses that as a red herring.  

The other question he raises is, "where are the slave ships?" These are seemingly valid questions, but the answer to either one of them doesn't logically lead to the conclusion that the Slave Trade didn't exist, or that black people in America aren't from Africa. That is more than a stretch. If it's not entirely clear whether there were 12 million, 3 million or even 300,000 slaves brought from Africa, that doesn't mean there was no slave trade or that none were brought. 

So my focus here isn't so much on a conclusive, absolute answer to those questions (because they aren't answerable in any final manner) but to get to the heart of the matter which is, 1) was there a slave trade, and 2) are the overwhelming majority of us from Africa? 

If you don't feel like reading, the answer to both is obviously just what you thought it was - yes. It's a shame that we have to go through this but this is a reflection of our current state of learning. 

They are saying, basically, everything you were told about slavery is all part of an elaborate scheme or a conspiracy to hide your true identity. And that all of those discussing a slave trade must all be in cahoots with each other, or they're being controlled by some nefarious group or individual using them to deceive us.

This gets to the real meaning of history. It is not simply a "story" or "his"-story as you so often hear.  No, modern history is an inquiry or an investigation into what most likely happened in the past. When looking at past events or phenomena, the question to ask is -what is the most probable explanation for these events?

So...where are the Slave Ships? 

This question is not far from asking, for example, 'what happened to the paper plates we used at the hundreds of barbeques we've been to over the years? And then saying, if we can't produce all the plates, that means the barbeques never happened. 

Keep in mind that ships from the 17th and 18th centuries were made of wood, and that wood didn't last.  

The longevity of wooden ships varied wildly, depending on the wood they were built of and how well they were maintained. Ships built of well seasoned hardwoods could last several decades in active use, providing that any problems that arose were promptly repaired. On the other hand, ships built of softwood or timber that was too green often rotted very quickly. There are cases recorded of ships that deteriorated so fast that they had to be scrapped after only two or three years of service.

This article in the New York times discusses an 18th Century ship found in the ruins of the World Trade Center after 9/11. In the 7th paragraph note it indicates that the ship's wood began deteriorating as soon as it was exposed to air. Later in the article, an archeologist mentions that, "if the sun had been out, the wood would have already started to fall apart."

 Another factor that should be mentioned is damage caused by the teredo navalis, a saltwater mollusk but commonly called shipworm. It bores into the underwater hull of wooden ships, unless they are protected by sheathing. The rate of infestation is worse in warm tropical seas. On the other hand, the organism cannot live in fresh or brackish water, such as the Baltic Sea. The teredo could sometimes reduce an unprotected wooden ship sailing in the tropics to a sinking condition within a year or too, as the early European explorers learned to their cost.  

For example, here is an article showing a 17th century ship found in the Baltic Sea which was very well preserved. Slave ships, however., navigated the much warmer waters near the equator.

Out of the hundereds of thousands of all the wooden ships in use from 1600 A.D. to 1810 A.D., no more than 35 have survived. Even the famed Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria which Columbus sailed on have never been found. Does that mean historians reject the fact that Columbus reached the Americas? Of course not. Historians use as much evidence as is available in order to piece together a picture of what most likely happened in the past. 

So they would use accounts of his contemporaries, journals, diaries, the impact on native Americans, subsequent voyages, the change in the European economy, etc., all of which point to the very high likelihood that Columbus sailed to America in those ships. On the other hand,  probability that the parties involved conspired to make up a story or a fairy tale in order to fool people about the ships is terribly slim. 

Let's do the same thing with the Atlantic Slave Trade. Let's not look at stories or presentations let's look at a set of specific pieces of information and primary sources and weigh them against the chance that they are part of a larger scheme to fool us into believing in a slave trade fairytale. 

1. Here is an act of the U.S. Congress prohibiting the importation of slaves or negroes into the United States. The act had been hotly debated but was finally passed on March 2, 1807. 

 -- If there was no slave trade why would there be a specific act banning the slave trade? Or maybe they made it all up to put it in text books to fool us into thinking the slave trade was real.

2. This is the charter granted to the Royal Africa Company in 1663. It gave a monopoly to the Company on trading in slaves from ports in West Africa. 

-- If there was no slave trade, why is there a charter given to this company to trade in slaves? Maybe they just made up the charter and no slaves were ever traded. Oh wait, below is also inventory from the company which

3. Here is a personal account of Samuel Ajay Crowther, a Nigerian captured in the slave trade in 1821. He details his experience of being captured in Osogun, Yorubaland and sold to Portuguese slave traders on the coast. 

--How can this be if there was no slave trade? Maybe he is lying. But why would he lie? Maybe he was bribed in order to fool black people in America that there was a slave trade.

4. In 1482, the Portuguese built the Elmina Castle in Ghana, first as a trading post but it was later converted into a depot where enslaved Africans were brought from different regions of West Africa. The captives were brought from the interior sold to the Portuguese who later sold them to the Dutch for goods and horses. 

-- Of course this was all done to fool black people in America into thinking the slave trade was real.

5. Just in case the Elmina Castle didn't fool people into believing in the slave trade, the Swedes collaborated with the Portuguese to build the Cape Coast Castle in Accra, Ghana. 

And if that didn't work, thirty-nine more slave castles were built along the Gold Coast of West Africa.

6. These are artifacts found from the Henrietta Marie, a British slave ship excavated in 1983 which wrecked off the Florida Keys. Among the artifacts found were the ship's bell, 80 sets of shackles, iron trading bars, two cast iron cannons, and six elephants tusks. As far as their relationship to the existence of a slave trade, they speak for themselves.

7. This is the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano. He recounts his experiences of being captured in his Igbo village and his experience on an English Slave ship on voyage to Barbados and then to Virginia. 

--The autobiography is clearly authentic, but was he lying? Was he really an indigenous American making up stories just to fool other black people to believe that there was a slave trade? Considering the amount of detail about what he called eboe customs, crops, music, etc., it seems highly unlikely he was in on this elaborate scheme to fabricate an African slave trade.

8. This is Omar Ibn Said, an ethnic Fula. 

He also wrote an autobiography which discussed being captured from his homeland in Futa Toro Senegal and being sold in Charleston S.C.  Could he have been forced by the conspiracy to make this story up? 
That would be a stretch considering he also wrote this copy of the 67th Surah of the Qur'an in Arabic (his biography was written in Arabic also.) Coincidentally, it is written in Fulani script.

9. This is Abdur Rahman Ibn Sori, a Fulani prince.

He was born in Timbuktu, Mali and later moved to Futa Djallon, Guinea. He was captured during a battle taken to the Gambia River and shipped via Dominica to New Orleans. This is a copy of the Lord's Prayer written by Abdur Rahman in the authentic Fulani Arabic script of his time. 
In 1826, at the encouragement of local newspaperman, Andrew Marschalk, Abdul Rahman wrote a letter in Arabic to his family, and this letter was forwarded via United States Senator Thomas Reed to the U.S. Consulate in Morocco. The consul shared the letter with Sultan Abderrahmane II, who asked that U. S. President John Quincy Adams and Secretary of State Henry Clay intervene for the release of Abdul Rahman in exchange for the freeing of several Americans illegally held in his country.  -- What is the likelihood all of these events and documents could have been made up?

10.  This is a document from the U.S. Circuit Court of the Southern District of New York relating to the trial of Nathaniel Gordon who was tried, convicted and executed for having engaged in the slave trade under the Piracy Law of 1820. -- According to the logic of some, they tried and killed this man over a slave trade which never existed.

11. These are the Thomas Clarkson papers. He was an abolitionist and leading campaigner against the slave trade. He founded the 'Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade. '  -- Again we have to ask, why all this documented activity if there was no slave trade?

12. Here are the memoirs of Ayyub Sulayman Diallo, the son of a Fula scholar.

  He was
 captured in his homeland in 1731 while trying to sell goods and two of his father’s enslaved people. He was sold into the trans-Atlantic slave trade and shipped to Annapolis, Maryland.

13. Henry Laurens was one of the most wealthy merchants in America during the 1700's. 

He formed a commercial partnership with George Austin to become 'Austin, Laurens & (George) Appleby.' 
His business among other interests was the import and sale of slaves.  Here is an advertisement in the newspaper taken out by his company. Notice the ad says the slaves came from Sierra Leone not indigenous America -- which is peculiar considering the Atlantic Slave Trade was a "fairytale." This clearly doesn't appear to be story or a myth, this is business. In the second ad also notice the amount of the slave cargo (250).)

14. Among the classic oral epics of the Senegambia region tells of Kelafa Saane, a warrior nyantio from Kaabu (Senegambia.) The epic relates that he fought killed and caught slaves: he put to death all those rulers who honoured him with meat, praising only those who brought slaves. (see, National Centre for Arts and Culture, Research and Documentation, transcribed cassettes 573A and B. Also, "Fistful of Shells", Peter Green, p. 436 (2019)).  This presents a witness to the widespread slave raids, corruption and abuse which led to the rise of the Futa Tooro Empire surrounding the Senegal River. One major figure to arise during these widespread social and political upheavals was Imam Abdul Qadir Kan. He would abolish slavery during his rule in the late 1700's. Kan had not only ended the Atlantic Slave Trade in his country but he had also refused Europeans passage either overland or along the Senegal River in their effors to acquire slaves further inland. (See., Walking Qur'an, Rudolph Ware (2014) , pp. 114-116. 
-- This of course has nothing to do with a propaganda campaign to trick black people into believing they weren't Native Americans. This is basic African history. 

15. The Charming Sally.

In 1800 congress passed an act making it illegal for American citizens to engage in the slave trade between any nations. 

In 1803, the ship 'Charming Sally' was seized in violation of that act. Below is a warrant issued for the seizure of that ship. It ordered the marshal and deputies of the Massachusetts district to arrest and take into custody the ships equipment and cargo. A libel had been filed by Isaac Sherman of Boston against the ship for the transportation of slaves contrary to law. -- This is just more documented legal and congressional activity regarding a "non-existent slave trade. "

16. The São José 
In the 1980's local divers found the wreckage of the slave ship São José that sank off the coast of Capetown South Africa. One key to identifying the ship was the long rectangular iron ballasts which were used to hold the ship down and offset the weight of its human cargo from Mozambique.

17.  Here is a descendent of Ashanti royalty acknowledging their (well documented) role in the slave trade with Henry Louis Gates. @11:00.

18.  The Dahomey Empire (currently Benin) is shown here.

It is known as a kingdom which grew directly as a result of the Atlantic Slave Trade.  The Dahomey is said here to have traded 1,000,000 people from different parts of the region. The slaving wars are documented in the architecture of the buildings and palaces. (What are the chances this was done to fool Black Americans?) @13:00

19. The DNA evidence. 

As noted in the earlier article. The indigenous American DNA didn't show any signs or markers that matched African DNA. Now studies have been done to match survivors of the middle passage with African DNA to no one's surprise they matched the DNA of West African regions. The only surprise was that more DNA matched Nigerians further inland from the coast. This isn't a story. This is scientific proof that the slave trade brought Africans to the Americas. While DNA tests have their limits the overwhelming evidence point directly to Africa and not indigenous America.

20. Here's another testimony from an African and not "the whiteman who is trying to convince you that you aren't aboriginal Americans."
This is an article from the Nigerian journalist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, explaining how her great grand-father, Nwaubani Ogogo Oriaku, s
old slaves among other goods.  

21. We'll end this with Lamine Kaba from the Fouta Djallon, Guinea who has documented the account of his capture from his homeland in 1799. He spent 30 years enslaved in America before returning to Africa (Liberia.) 

He is quoted as saying this:

  "There are good men in America, but all are very ignorant of Africa." 

Sylviane Diof, Servants of Allah, p.144 1998.

No one single piece of evidence conclusively proves there was a vast slave trade, but in science and history there is the notion of 'consilience.'  Consilience is the principle that evidence from independent, unrelated sources can "converge" on strong conclusions. 

These various pieces of evidence obviously don't come from the same sources. They are not necessarily related by time, place or parties in direct communication with each other, but they all converge on the same conclusion, that there was a vast business enterprise we call the Atlantic Slave Trade. 

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