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Did you know that Britain abolished the slave trade in 1807 and slavery altogether in 1838, but other nations continued trading slaves for many decades?
Between 1870 and 1810 an estimated two million Africans made the Middle Passage, with the vast majority ending up in the sugar industries of Cuba and Brazil. Britain actively tried to intercept these shipments, liberating the slaves whenever possible.
If this happened on the Caribbean side of the Atlantic, rather than send them on a long return voyage, the liberated Africans were bought to the British West Indies where they were settled as free men and women. If they were liberated on the in the eastern Atlantic, they were carried back to the British island of St. Helena or to Sierra Leone in west Africa, where the International Courts of Mixed Commission were located.
The freed slaves were housed in Liberated African Yards and encouraged to migrate as contract laborers to the British West Indies. Many liberated Africans complied, although the longer they lived in the yards, the less inclined they were to leave.
In this way, thousands of liberated Africans ended up in the British West Indies. Between 1841 and 1847, Trinidad received 8854 free African migrants, Guyana – 14060 and Jamaica – 11391. Another 5027 liberated Africans migrated to St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Kitts and Dominica, with St. Lucia receiving 1298.
Source: A History of St. Lucia by Harmsen, Ellis & Devaux – 2012
This feature runs every Tuesday and Thursday. It is compiled by daughter of the soil Anselma Aimable, a former agricultural officer and former correspondent for Caribbean Net News, who has a deep interest in local culture and history. Send ideas and tips to [email protected]