Did the North American slave trade kill Africa’s self-sufficiency in food production?
How did African slaves change North American native tribes?
Shona was surfing around last week and discovered a wonderful blog by North Carolina writer and historian B.C. Brooks. Mr. Brooks loves history and the details of Bajan/African history and influences upon the Carolinas and Florida. Until I read his article Land Pirates and Tory Capitalism I didn’t know that as early as 1708, slaves from Barbados and Africa outnumbered white colonists in North Carolina.
"Tight Pack" in the Middle Passage
I knew that the slave trade destroyed African civilizations, but I didn’t specifically think about what happened when an entire generation of rice farmers was removed from the continent. Once you take that knowledge of mass food production away and prevent it from being passed to following generations – that’s it. The society is effectively destroyed and placed beyond self-recovery. Here’s a sample of what Mr. Brooks has to say…
By 1708, only forty-five years later, historians generally agree that slaves outnumbered white colonists in Carolina. Moreover, these slaves came mostly from regions of West Africa where rice production had occurred for centuries. The timing and transplantation was intentional. Removal of skilled agricultural labor from West Africa may have proved beneficial to Carolina planters; however, the general practice eventually proved disastrous for the continent of African. Scholars have argued that the Atlantic Slave Trade “transformed Africa economically, politically, and socially.”
Cowboys and Indians… or should that be “Cowboys and Africans” ?
Here’s something else I never thought about: cultural and behavioural changes in North American Indian tribes as a result of African influences from escaped African slaves. In his article African Influence on the Seminole Indians of Florida Mr. Brooks looks at how African culture and knowledge transformed North American Indian societies.
After reading his blog, I’m convinced that by the time the “Indian Wars” of the mid 1800′s rolled around, American Indian culture was heavily Africanized in many regions. Just take a look at the similarities between a photo of a Florida Seminole woman and a painting of an African woman at the top of this article.
It’s all fascinating stuff and well worth your time.
“The Black Seminole culture that took shape after 1800 was a dynamic mixture of African, Native American, Spanish, and slave traditions. In the tradition of the Native Americans, maroons wore Seminole clothing; strained koonti, a native root; and made sofkee, a paste created by mashing corn with a mortar and pestle.”
Also check out Brooks’ major article on rice production in the Carolinas and the connections to Barbados…
Barbados, an island nation founded by the British, has remained staunchly British throughout its entire history. Furthermore, it has also been the locus of intense anti-Parliamentary and Anglican immigration (later known as “Tories”) after the English Civil War, through the Glorious Revolution, and continually throughout the eighteenth century. A dark cloud of imperialism covered the island nation, a symptom of the massive storm that swept across the continent of Africa for centuries. Barbadian lands quickly became incapable of supporting English capitalistic fervor. Barbadians, for lack of a nice way to phrase it, “raped” their own island. However, this unsavory tendency covered more than mere real estate. In 1670, these unscrupulous businessmen brought those practices to Carolina, along with an increasing number of enslaved Africans, along with their “purchased” agricultural ability.
… excerpt from BC Brooks’ article Responsibility in Business: Imperialism, Africans, and Rice in the South Carolina Trade