October 26, 2014

PLEASE NOTE THE NUMBERS - THERE WERE NOT 100 MILLION SLAVES TAKEN TO THE US - 12.5 Million total but most went to South America and the Islands. A total of 450,000 were brought to the US.

Cargo of the living dead: The unspeakable horror of life on a slave ship

Last updated at 09:07 13 December 2007

Raped at will, tortured with white-hot forks, they were thrown to the sharks if death ended their agony. A new book reveals the true horror of life on a slave ship...

Louis Asa-Asa was 13 when his happiness ended. One day, warriors converged on his home far from the sea. They set fire to the huts, killing and capturing villagers.
He escaped into the forest, the only child to survive.

A few days later the warriors found Louis.

They manacled him into a slave train which slowly made its way to the coast.

Scroll down for more...

"I was sold six times over, sometimes for money, sometimes for cloth, sometimes for a gun," he recalled.

"We were taken from place to place and sold at every place we stopped at."
It took Louis six months to reach the "white people" and their "very large ship".
Ukawsaw, about the same age, lived in northern Nigeria, up near Lake Chad.

The grandson of the local king, he was mesmerised by the magical tales told by a visiting merchant.

Vividly, the man described white people who lived in houses on the water which had wings upon them.

His family let Ukawsaw go with the merchant, who told no more tales but dragged the boy to the Gold Coast where Ukawsaw was enslaved.
A Dutch captain sold him in Barbados for 50 dollars.

Olaudah, also Nigerian, was only 11 when slave traders carried him aboard a slave ship.
He was grabbed by members of the crew, "white men with horrible looks, red faces and long hair", who tossed him about to see if his limbs were sound.

He thought they were bad spirits, not human beings.

As he recorded 35 years later, when they put him down on the deck the first thing he saw was a huge copper boiling pot, and nearby a crowd of black people, "chained together, every one of their countenances expressing dejection and sorrow".

Struck by the thought that he had fallen into the hands of cannibals, Olaudah fainted.
These are just three slaves among the 12.4 million Africans who were captured by raiders and kidnappers and transported across the Atlantic in slave ships between the late 15th and the late 19th centuries.

As Marcus Rediker recalls in a new book on the slave trade, 1.8 million slaves died during that journey known as the Middle Passage, their bodies thrown to the sharks.

Most of the ten million who survived the journey were condemned to a plantation system so brutal, many more perished.

Two-thirds of the total were transported between 1700 and 1808, a period which includes the Age of Enlightenment and manuscripts by Jane Austen.

Olaudah was born in 1745.

He came from a pastoral background in which villagers worked collectively to build homes and cultivate the fields, raising foodstuffs, mostly yams and fruit, but also tobacco, and cotton which they wove into clothes.

Blacksmiths made weapons; other craftsmen made jewellery.

His Igbo people believed that the spirits of the dead would wander aimlessly unless given proper burial.

As in last century's death camps, perhaps only the very young, like him, could survive the journey without lifelong mental damage.

The humiliation of the slave train - men, women and children strapped in a neck yolk as they stumbled towards the coast - was usually followed by imprisonment for as much as eight months until a slave ship arrived and collected a full cargo - whereupon they were marched out, stripped, examined, haggled over and finally given a number by which they would be known throughout the voyage.

When Olaudah came round on the ship after fainting and was offered food, he refused it.
He was tied to the windlass and flogged.

In his despair, Olaudah went to throw himself over the side, even though he couldn't swim.
Then he saw that the slave-ship was equipped with netting on the sides to prevent its valuable commodities from committing suicide.

He was told that he was being carried to white people's country to work for them.
Many of the slaves believed until the end of the voyage that they were being shipped away to be eaten.

Olaudah was taken down into the darkness of the lower deck, where the slaves were manacled and shackled.

He was made to lie wedged in such close quarters that he "had scarcely room to turn himself".

His living space was about three square feet, hardly more than that of a corpse in its coffin.
The air was noxious; the constant rubbing of his chains raised sores on his wrists and ankles.

As the ship set sail, the full enormity of what was happening to him struck home, as it must have done to millions of other Africans.

Because of bad weather, the slaves stayed locked below in their chains for days at a time.
The heat was suffocating, the stench unbearable.

Covered in sweat, vomit, and blood, the packed slaves created a miasma which rose through the gratings of the upper deck in a loathsome mist.

The "necessary tubs" full of excrement "almost suffocated us", recalled Olaudah.
The shrieks of terrified slaves, conscious of the troubled spirits of the dead, mingled with the groans of the dying.

It was rare for a slave transport across the Atlantic not to give plenty of sustenance to the sharks swimming nearby.

Olaudah became sick and "hoped to put an end to my miseries".
He envied the dead who were thrown overboard, believing that their spirits lived on, liberated from their shackles.

His own spirits improved with the weather.

The slaves were usually allowed on deck twice a day, in chains.

Olaudah, being a child, went unfettered, and because he was sickly he spent more time on deck, where women slaves washed him and looked after him.

He saw three slaves elude the netting and jump overboard.

A boat was lowered, and to the anger of the captain, two of them succeeded in drowning.
The third was brought back on deck and flogged viciously.

When at last they sighted landfall the crew were overjoyed.
The captives were sullen and silent.

Like Ukawsaw, they had docked in Barbados which, as they would shortly find out, was one of the most brutal slave societies to be found anywhere in the world.

Olaudah was luckier than some.

His forcible separation from his beloved sister had occurred on the quay before he was taken to the slave ship.

But many families were now separated in the Barbados dockyard, and the air was filled with their shrieks and bitter lamentations.

They were lined up in rows, and at the sound of a drum-roll, buyers scrambled to pick out the slaves they wanted to purchase, throwing cords around them which tightened as they were pulled away.
Husbands were separated from wives, brothers from sisters, parents from children.
Olaudah, too young and small for the slave-masters, was transferred to another ship.
"I now totally lost the small remains of comfort I had enjoyed in conversing with my countrymen," he wrote (or dictated) many years later.

"The women who used to wash and take care of me were all gone different ways, and I never saw one of them again."

Nothing more would have been heard of Olaudah, had not the ship's crew, attracted by the boy's bright curiosity, taught him a lot about sailors' work.

He was eventually bought by a ship's captain as a gift for someone in England.
During the 13-week voyage he learned enough English to become a sailor himself and, by the age of 24, had earned enough money to purchase his freedom.

Slave ships could be of almost any size, from great galleons such as the 566-ton Parr, built in 1797, which carried 100 crew and could stow 700 slaves, to the Hesketh, a 10-ton vessel which sailed to Sierra Leone and took 30 slaves on to St Kitts in 1761, thus demonstrating that anybody with a bit of money could become a slave trader.

A typical medium-sized slaver would carry about 140 slaves, 70 male and 70 female, shackled two-by-two at the wrists and ankles.

The beams above the lower deck left only about four-and-a-half feet, so most slaves would spend 16 hours a day without being able to stand.

Many traders lowered the height still further by building out 6ft platforms in the lower deck from the edge of the ship to pack more bodies in.

A grating provided ventilation.

Male slaves were stowed forward and women aft - the women generally not in irons, giving them more freedom of movement.

So packed were the vessels that some captains slept in a hammock over a huddle of little African girls, while the first mate and surgeon slept over the boys.

In the middle of the main deck a "barricado" or barricade, ten feet high and extending two feet over the water either side, separated the men from the women.

If there was a slave revolt on board - and the crews accepted that these desperate men might try to kill them at the cost of their own lives - the barricado served as a defensive wall, allowing the crew to retreat to the women's side.

When the male slaves were on deck, the crew had them covered with blunderbusses and cannons loaded with small shot.

The slave ship towed a lifeboat behind it in which sick slaves were isolated.

According to Louis Asa-Asa, many sick slaves on his ship got no medical attention.
Even on a comparatively healthy voyage the mortality rate would be five to seven per cent, and each death enraged and terrified the slaves, especially the ones who woke in the morning to find themselves shackled to a corpse.

Seamen took away the dead, along with tubs of excrement and urine.

They also scrubbed the deck and the beams, using sand and other scourers to remove dried filth, vomit and mucus.

Once or twice a fortnight, the crew would fumigate the lower deck with vinegar and tobacco smoke.

During the afternoon, bread and perhaps a pipe of tobacco and a dram of brandy would be offered to the slaves.

Around 4pm the slaves would be fed the afternoon meal: horse beans and peas with salt meat or fish, before being taken down for the long night.

Dysentery, known as the bloody flux, was the biggest killer, followed by malignant fevers, including malaria, and dehydration, especially in the tropics.

The slave ship crews were almost as liable to disease, and many of them were not treated much better than the slaves themselves.

Although slave trade merchants always insisted that  "good order" aboard their ships meant no abuse of the female slaves by the crew, it all depended on the attitude of the captain, who had the power to protect the women if he chose to do so.

Alexander Falconbridge, a doctor who campaigned against the slave trade, wrote that "on board some ships, the common sailors are allowed to have intercourse with such of the black women whose consent they can procure".

The officers on the other hand, "are permitted to indulge their passions among them at pleasure, and sometimes are guilty of such brutal excesses as disgrace human nature".
The crew were always more dispensable than the slaves: officers knocked to the deck any sailor who was disrespectful to them.

The smallest error saw the crewman bound to the rigging and flogged.

Literally adding salt to the wounds, the officers applied a briny solution called pickle to the deep red and purple furrows made by the cat o'nine tails, its knotted tails - sometimes interwoven with wire - serving to maximise the pain.

The cat ruled.

It was used to make people move on or to obey orders more quickly, even to make the slaves dance and sing, since exercise was good for them.

Mostly, the cat was used to make slaves eat the food they often refused.
If that did not work, a long, thin mechanical contraption called a speculum oris was used to force open their mouths and throats.

Slaves who rebelled were tortured, often by turning thumbscrews or by applying a white-hot cook's fork to their flesh.

Both caused excruciating pain.

However, most captains knew that his mission was to deliver slaves in good condition.
About ten days before the end of the journey and estimated landfall, the fetters were taken off the male slaves so that marks of chafing disappeared.

Their beards and sometimes their hair were shaved, and a silver nitrate caustic applied to hide sores.

Grey hairs were picked out or dyed black.

Finally sailors would rub down the naked Africans with palm oil to make their skin smooth and gleaming.

We know all this because the slave trade, at least in Britain, accumulated logs and diaries as assiduously as any Nazi book-keeper in the early 1940s.

This precision would be of great help when it came to educating the British public on what was being done in their name.

Men like Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce spoke with blazing moral conviction, and their single most powerful propaganda weapon was the reproduction of an image of a slave ship.

First published in 1788 and redrawn and republished many times throughout the Western world, it illustrated a coffin-shaped cross-section of a 297-tonner with 294 tiny, meticulously drawn Africans wearing loincloths and chained at the ankles, packed like herrings in a barrel.

Beneath the image were eight paragraphs of explanatory text, together with a picture of a supplicant slave in chains, hands raised and asking, "Am I Not a Man and a Brother?"
Olaudah was a brother.

Louis and Ukawsaw were brothers.

They were bound together by a common experience of Hell.
• The Slave Ship: A Human History by Marcus Rediker, £30, John Murray Publishing.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-501577/Cargo-living-dead-The-unspeakable-horror-life-slave-ship.html#ixzz3HG1cRxAy
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October 13, 2014

Oct 13, 9:20 PM EDT


AP Photo
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) -- Pounding rain and tornado watches didn't deter hundreds of protesters Monday outside Ferguson police headquarters, where they stayed for almost four hours to mark how long 18-year-old Michael Brown's body was left in a street after he was fatally shot by police.
Organizers of the four-day Ferguson October protests dubbed the day "Moral Monday" and committed acts of civil disobedience across the St. Louis region. In addition to the initial march on Ferguson police headquarters, protesters blocked the entrance to a major employer, held a loud rally inside St. Louis City Hall, disrupted business at a Ferguson shopping center and a Wal-Mart and tried to crash a private fundraiser for a St. Louis County executive candidate where U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill was scheduled to appear. On Monday night, protesters announced plans to picket a second Wal-Mart in the St. Louis suburbs.
All told, more than 50 people were arrested, including scholar and civil rights activist Cornel West.
West was among 42 arrested for peace disturbance at the Ferguson police station. Some protesters used a bullhorn to read the names of people killed by police nationwide. Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy members - some of whom were among the first arrested - led a prayer service before marching to the station two blocks away.
Protests have been common since Brown, who was unarmed and black, was killed by a white Ferguson police officer on Aug. 9. Tensions escalated last week when a white police officer in St. Louis shot and killed another black 18-year-old, Vonderrit Myers Jr., who police say had shot at officers.
"My faith compels me to be here," Bishop Wayne Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri said outside Ferguson police headquarters. "I want to show solidarity, and call attention to the structural racism of St. Louis."
Protesters were met by about 40 officers in riot gear. Several clergy members approached individual officers and asked them to "repent" for Brown's killing and other acts of violence. Some officers engaged the protesters, while others ignored the efforts.
"My heart feels that this has been going on too long," Ferguson officer Ray Nabzdyk told the clergy. "We all stand in fault because we didn't address this."
Outside Emerson Electric headquarters in Ferguson, six people were arrested for failing to disperse after blocking a street, St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman said. Emerson is one of the region's largest employers.
At St. Louis City Hall, about 100 protesters blew whistles that echoed off the marble walls. Protest leader Kennard Williams presented a list of four demands to Jeff Rainford, chief of staff for Mayor Francis Slay. Slay was not in the office Monday.
The demands called for an end to participation in a program providing military equipment to police, body cameras for all officers, a civilian review board for police and mandatory independent investigations whenever police kill someone.
Rainford said St. Louis is not part of the militarization program; he promised the other demands will be taken seriously.
"We are already working on all of these things," he said.
Williams said that wasn't good enough, and pledged further disruptions in days to come. One protester was arrested for property damage.
Hundreds of people marched to Saint Louis University in the pre-dawn hours. A small group held a brief demonstration inside the upscale Plaza Frontenac shopping center in St. Louis County. Another group was turned away by police and security at a Ferguson Wal-Mart, but the store closed out of concern about the protest.
County police spokesman Brian Schellman said Monday night that several protesters were arrested there but could not provide a precise total. He added that an unspecified number of additional arrests were made at the Webster Groves fundraiser for County Councilman Steve Stenger, a Democrat who has come under criticism for his political links to St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch.
Ferguson October began Friday with protesters marching to the St. Louis County prosecutor's office and renewing calls for charges against Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown. A grand jury is reviewing the case, and the U.S. Justice Department is conducting a civil rights investigation.
Follow Alan Scher Zagier at http://twitter.com/azagier
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October 12, 2014

Using the Web, Celebrity, and even Churches to Raise Money, Then What?

The web offers opportunities to help those in need like nothing before it. In fact, without the internet, most people would probably have already forgotten that more than a quarter million Haitians lost their lives just a little over fifteen months ago.

The internet can be used to save lives in time of natural disaster or civil uprising. It can also be used, especially in this era of the social media revolution, to bring awareness and raise money for different causes that people the world over are passionate about.

Coupling it with the magnetic power of celebrities, such as Eva Longoria or Shaquille O’Neal, it could do things that no one thought was ever possible. In fact, this is exactly what Shaun King, a pastor at Most Courageous church in Georgia, did last September when he started the Twitchange phenomenon on twitter.

The goal was clear and simple, to bring celebrities and fans together in a loud, fun way on Twitter to bring awareness and financial support to charitable causes that change the world. The idea started because of the earthquake in Haiti; hence, the first twitchange campaign was to benefit a school for children with special needs there: The Miriam Center in Northwest Haiti.

Before twitchange started, Pastor Shaun King founded Ahomeinhaiti, which was a movement that provided shelter, more specifically tents, to people who lost their homes after the earthquake in Haiti. Many people and organizations joined this movement to make it a success, although the idea of sending tents to Haiti in the wake of the earthquake was always controversial to many who know and understand Haiti.

Now, to why this article is even being written. On twitter, many Haitians and foreigners who supported Twitchange and pastor Shaun King, often sent me direct messages (DM) asking what have I heard about the Miriam Center since the end of the twitchange campaign? Many were curious because a lot of money was raised and wanted to know how it was being used, while others simply wanted to check on the progress of the project.

Back in January, I sent my first email to Pastor Shaun King after briefly asking him on twitter, if we could do a short interview so that I could get an update on the project. He replied, saying that I could send him the questions by email, but at that time I was traveling to Haiti, so I never had a chance to do a follow up. As I visited the Twitchange website on April 16th, I then sent Mr. King an email asking for some basic information: Could you please provide us with an update about your project in Haiti, and also for a main contact from the organization which you donated all the money raised? It would be good to get an update from all involved.

This question was sent to him after he wrote on twitter that he donated all the money raised, more than $540,000 according to some reports, such as this Forbes.com article and the Twitchange website (see picture below), to Northwest Haiti Christian Mission (NWHCM). Up to this point, I was just hoping to get a straight answer from either Mr.King or if he provided me with the contact info for NWHCM that the project is on-track and here’s where I can get more information if interested. But all to my surprise, we had a few email exchanges, which can be read below.

Mr.King: Sure! Are you in Haiti?  It would be best to go and see the work for yourself. Amazing stuff!

So again, I asked the same question: Do you have someone I can reach in Haiti? I would like to go visit and talk to someone there next week.

Mr King’s: You live in Port Au Prince now? Will you drive from PAP to St. Louis or fly? I will check with the team there on Monday to see who could connect with you.

I answered: I will drive. Can you give me a name and phone number that I can
contact this week-end?

Mr.King: I will get a Haitian # for you by Monday. If you drive to St. Louis Du Nord - everybody there knows all about Northwest Haiti Christian Mission.

I sent emails, both on Monday and Tuesday, reminding Mr.King to send me the info. I received no reply. On Wednesday April 20th, I sent another email to him, asking for a Haiti contact again, so that we could set up a visit and an interview with the staff there. When I received no reply to the emails, again, I contacted him through his twitter account. Shortly thereafter, Mr. King sent me this reply: I am out of the state in Los Angeles. Please contact Northwest Haiti Christian Mission directly for whatever info you need. Here's the thing - the organization you are researching has nothing to hide. I have already encouraged you to go there and given you the links to all of the staff members for you to reach them directly. I encourage you to do so.

In the above reply, Pastor King made it seemed as if I was researching NWHCM, which from our first conversation, I had no idea who they were. Pastor King was the one who raised all the money through twitchange, and from the beginning the money was to build the Miriam center which was going to look like this upon completion.

( architectural rendition of the Miriam Center)
Since Pastor King never gave a direct contact for NWHCM in Haiti, so I followed the link for NWHCM that he sent me and contacted Courtney Pierce, the Miriam Center director in Haiti. I got a replied from the director’s organization email stating that she was on sabbatical, and that I should send my email regarding the center to another email address (Miriam.center at nwhcm.org), which I did.

From that email address, I received a reply from Courtney Pierce, detailing the history and need for the Miriam center. I replied to her stating, I was simply looking for basic info about the twitchange funds, and if possible to get a receipt of the transaction between Ahomeinhaiti and NWHCM. She then forwarded my email to a few people within NWHCM, which Sam Guilliams, the executive Vice-President, replied to by asking me to provide more information about who I was.

Once the conversation caught the attention of some more people on twitter, Janeil Oneil, the executive director of NWHCM joined the chat on twitter to bring some clarifications. He noted that his organization only received exactly $200,000 from Ahomeinhaiti.

The conversation continued on twitter with some people who were curious and knew about the twitchange campaign from the beginning. The following day, I received a phone call from Cameron Mayhill, as he returned my calls from the previous days. We chatted about NWHCM work in Haiti, and he was also very forthcoming by answering some of my questions about the Miriam center and the money raised through twitchange.

Mr. Mayhill clarified that NWHCM received $200,000 from Shaun King’s Ahomeinhaiti back in December 2010, and that the money was wired via Paypal, but he could not confirm if that was all the money raised through twitchange. He also mentioned that the Miriam Center’s construction is currently on hold due to drainage issue on the land, but that they plan to move forward with it in the near future. He could not comment on an exact date at this moment, but he is confident that the center will be built.

Mr. Mayhill also added that Pastor King was hired for a paid position by NWHCM after the twitchange campaign, and up to now he is still employed with them. Mr. Mayhill further added that there is a change in the architectural plan, and a new firm is being contacted for adjustment in the design of the new center to make it more in line with Haiti’s reality.

In a newsletter report from NWHCM, dated Fall 2010, they mentioned that twitchange was able to raise more than $540,000 for a new and extended Miriam Center in Bonneau, Haiti. In a later newsletter issue, a correction was made about funds collected from the twitchange which put it at $200,000, although it still stated that more $540,000 was raised. The key here is that there is a distinction to be made between money raised and funds collected.

One explanation that I got about this discrepancy is the fact that some celebrities did not want to support certain businesses that bid for them during the Twitchange campaign, so those businesses did not pay on their pledge. I perused the entire Twitchange website, the Twitchange twitter account, Ahomeforhaiti.org, Shaun King’s twitter account and NWHCM website and nowhere did I ever see a mention of celebrities not wanting to support a business that participated in the Twitchange campaign or anything referring to $200,000 as the final count. The amount raised was never corrected on any of those websites, and there was no formal press release about the money transfer between Ahomeinhaiti and NWHCM.

It might be true that only $200,000 were collected from the twitchange auction to build a new and expanded Miriam center, but since both Ahomeforhaiti, which used Courageous Church as a fiscal agent and NWHCM are 501(c) 3, and in the case of the latter a registered Non-Governmental Organization in Haiti, shouldn’t we the public have access to their financial records, so that everyone knows exactly how much money was raised and how it is being spent.

(A screenshot of Twitchange.com, showing more than $500,000 was received)

There is no financial statement on NWHCM’s website, which has been operating in Haiti for more than 30 years. Pastor King, who is currently employed by them, got this job after the twitchange campaign, how much he is being compensated has not been made public. By publishing their latest tax form, it would put all the donors of Twitchange at ease because they would know how their donated money is being used, and it would help eliminate any doubt that anyone might have about how much money was really raised by Pastor Shaun King through Twitchange.

(This screenshot, actually showed how much was raised to the penny)

Pastor King likes to mention on his twitter account that the land for the Miriam Center is already purchased, and the foundation work has started, but it is worth to note that the land was purchased before the Twitchange campaign. According to Mr.Mayhill, the $200,000 received from Pastor King is still in the Mission's bank account.

As Haiti gets ready to build back better, many of us appreciate all the great initiatives that friends of Haiti and people like Pastor Shaun King have taken to contribute and make a difference. However, due to lessons from the past, it is known that the best way to finally get Haiti moving in the right direction is for Haitian people to keep their eyes open and a little honesty from all involved about their work in Haiti. People who have nothing to hide will be forthcoming and able to show how every dime is being spent. The Haitian people have been taking advantage of far too long, there comes a time when enough is enough.

It is one thing to raise money through innovative ways by using the web, celebrities, churches, and regular individual, but it is as important to follow through with a promise, and use all the money for the intended purposes. If things change or a challenge arises, be as creative as possible to communicate with all involved, especially the donors. This is not only the right thing to do; it is also showing respect to the donors, and the people who should benefit from such projects.

It is our hope that the money raised through Twitchange will be used to help build this new center in Haiti and that sooner rather than later, financial reports and constant updates will be provided to all of us on the websites of all those in charge of this project.

Additional links regarding Twitchange:


You need to be a member of Haiti Rewired to add comments!

Comment by Rick Davis on April 28, 2011 at 8:02am
Excellent article and I would like to see the tax forms for the US tax exempt status. If there is a church involved that makes things even more complex.
Comment by chuck mccune on April 27, 2011 at 11:20am
thank you for this discussion.