By Joy Sigaud
Anyone who has had their DNA tested will have noticed groups of people carrying the same DNA in far fetched regions. How did this come to be one would ask oneself? A Tongan ancestor? It may well be the case as our ancestry is so diverse that nothing is impossible nor surprising.
There is yet a more sinister side to the story which isn’t told. We focus on the Atlantic Slave Trade quite naturally because the Western Hemisphere where we live was quite remote until relatively recently to, for example, Macao. Do we dare to think, what if?
What if, there was a mother long ago whose children were separated either intentionally or through enslavement and one ended up on one side of the world and another on the other side. All lost to their homelands and relatives forever!
It hardly bears thinking about.
What is the true story behind the enslavement of the “black-being” over a four century long period in one of the greatest dehumanising enterprises in history?
Thanks to groundbreaking work and research by UNESCO and Universities throughout Africa amongst others, we can now see the history of the Great Dispersion of the African people, the global effect on economies, culture, race and much more.
The enslavement of black Africans was an economic/commercial venture spanning several continents and regions from the Arab World, Asia, The Indian Ocean, The Caribbean the Americas and of course Africa. Based on a contemptuous ideology these “mobile assets” eventually constituted the legal framework of slavery in the Americas. Whilst there is much to be elucidated from the maps, on close inspection it is easy to see how disparate the African Diaspora is today and why.
Numbers And More Numbers
How often have we heard figures ranging from 11 million people to 100 Million people but in fact these figures only cover certain periods in certain places at a given time. Note the vast numbers by the 17th Century that were going North and when one compares the flow in the 15th-16th centuries to the Caribbean islands it is devastating because these were not places where people survived for very long under enslavement. By the 19th Century the figures that we know about had dramatically increased in all directions.
Whilst they give us great insight as to to scope of this tragedy, its deeper causes, modalities and consequences have yet to be explored and this is the basic objective the UNESCO member states set for the Slave Route Project. They say “issues at stake are historical truth, human rights, development identity and citizenship in modern multicultural societies. The idea of ‘route’ signifies first and foremost, the identification of itineraries of humanity, i.e. circuits followed by the slave trade and in this sense, geography sheds light on history.” They make it clear that the slave trade map not only lends substance to this early form of international trade but also by showing the course it took illuminates the impact of the system.
Already by the early 18th Century we begin to see notable Black historical figures emerging in the western hemisphere such as:
Francois-Dominique Toussaint L’Overture – A French General and leader of the Haitian Revolution 1791 – 1804. The revolution was so successful it lead to the founding of a state.
Frederick Douglass – America. Born 1817, formerly a slave and known for his eloquence went on to become a prominent abolitionist and statesman.
Alexandre Dumas born in France 1802. Famous French novelist. His books are still loved worldwide: The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask and the Count of Montecristo to name a few.
A.S. Pushkin born 1799 Russia. Pushkin is considered by many to be the greatest Russian Poet and is the founder of modern Russian literature. We still love his works.
Main photo: The Slave Route