The Rebel Woman in the British West Indies during Slavery

By Lucille Mathurin Mair; Dennis Ranston | Go to book overview

1.

The African Mother

It is not surprising that rebels were to be found among black women in the New World. For large numbers of Africans, including women, carried a fighting spirit with them across the Atlantic and into their life of slavery on British Caribbean plantations.

This was generally true of all enslaved Africans. Whether their native homes were in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, or the Congo, they were first and foremost human beings, who instinctively resented being reduced to the condition of mere property.

It was particularly true of those Africans originating from that section of West Africa known as the Gold Coast, now Ghana, from where a very high proportion of slaves was exported. English slave traders shipped nearly half-a-million of them into the West Indies during the years 1690 to 1807.

The Gold Coast was famous for its internal wars in which the nations who inhabited the coastal forests battled with each other: they fought either to conquer their neighbours, or in order to free themselves of neighbours who had conquered them. It was a region of proud and militant people, not easily crushed.

Even when captured as prisoners of war, enslaved, and taken to the Caribbean, they carried with them their reputation for courage and independence. The Governor of the Leeward Islands once described them as "all born heroes": Bryan Edwards, in his history of the West Indies, tells of the Koromantyn boys of the Gold Coast who boldly exposed their bosoms to the red-hot irons which West Indian slave owners used to brand their slaves: and this without sign of pain or fear.

Whites admired the Koromantyns, especially as they were not only brave but hard-working. At the same time whites feared them: they became associated in the

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The Rebel Woman in the British West Indies during Slavery
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Rebel Woman - In the British West Indies During Slavery *
  • Contents *
  • Introduction *
  • 1 - The African Mother 1
  • 2 - Equal Under the Whip 4
  • 3 - Unwilling to Work 8
  • 4 - The Tongues of Women 13
  • 5 - Plotting and Conspiring 19
  • 6 - Runaways 22
  • 7 - Guerilla Women 28
  • 8 - Nanny - Rebel/Queen/Mother 34
  • Index 38
  • Bibliography 40
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