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Middle Passage

Satisfactory Essays
Middle Passage

European slavers altered the way that different African people viewed one another and themselves. The book by Miguel Barnet, Biography of a Runaway Slave is a strong account that can be used to explore how Africans changed their perception of each other, and how this change influenced the lives of Africans in the Americas.

First of all it is important to examine how many African slaves were brought to the New World. The Middle Passage is infamous route of the ships that carried slaves to the Americas. After the arrival to the New World, the slaves were sold or exchanged for the valuable goods. The term Middle Passage might sound somewhat romantic, but in reality it stands as a one of the most terrible events in history. The Middle Passage is the passage of bonded slaves from West Africa to the Americas. In the beginning, there was a trade between Europeans and African leaders who sold their enemies and disabled people in exchange for unique gifts such as guns, tobacco, iron bars and etc. But at the later stages of slavery, Europeans often kidnapped Africans at the costal area of Western Africa and then sent to ships that sailed them to the New World where this new free work force was needed to help stabilize the new nation.

The Middle Passage took about ninety days. However, there where times when few months were need to transport Africans. During the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, Africans were treated terribly. On the ship, African slaves were crammed like sardines and chained together.

In addition, Africans had to endure the terrible heat, there was little or no food provided. They were subjected to diseases that quickly spread among slaves, and many died due to unsanitary conditions. Most of the time, the sick were thrown overboard to avoid infecting others. One writer describes the terrible conditions that African slaves had to endure, “In the voyage, one of every three Africans died from dysentery, smallpox, or suffocation and was thrown overboard to the sharks, who reportedly followed the slave ships from the coast of Africa all the way to the New World.”

Also, the ship’s crew often treated the Africans badly; they often whipped them because many of the people resisted and tried to escape from the cargo ship.

On the cargo ships, there were people from various African tribes. According to Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, there were many different ethnic groups among them, the Congo, the Edo and the Yoruba/Nago, just to name few.
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