He sold his human cargo to the Spaniards in Hispaniola. Then in 1826, African slaves were first introduced to the Windward Islands when Thomas Warner brought 60 Negro slaves to work in the emerging sugar industry of Barbados. From 1650 onwards, Africans were landed in Barbados and the Leeward Islands in increasing numbers. St. Lucia followed some 70 years later.
Did you know St. Lucia’s slave population was never more than just a fraction of the total number of Africans abducted from their homeland? Some researchers disagree, but estimates show that a total of approximately 20 million men, women and children were enslaved, half of whom died in holding camps in Africa or during the Atlantic crossing (the middle passage). It was estimated that between 1451 and 1870 (419 years), a total of 9,566,100 enslaved Africans reached the Caribbean and American coasts alive.
Did you know once sugar was introduced around 1650, slave arrivals spiraled? Between 1650 and 1700, about 1,341,000 Africans were shipped to Jamaica, Ste Domingue and other Caribbean islands. Also from 1701 to 1810 another six million slaves or more survived the extremely grueling Middle Passage. Even after England abolished the slave trade in 1807, two million more Africans were shipped (between 1810 and 1870) to Dutch, French and Spanish colonies in the New World, and especially to Cuba and Brazil.
Did you know from Senegambia in the West to Angola in the south-west and the Swahili-speaking coast in the east: West Africa, Central-Western Africa and even parts of East Africa were the hunting grounds for slave traders? They captured and exported people from an area which itself (around 1800) contained more than 30 million people. The voracious demand for slaves in the New World coincided with indigenous processes of state formation in Africa, cruelly tying African elites and European traders into a gruesome bond of military and commercial activities which made possible the abduction and force replacement of such inconceivable numbers of people.
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]