THIS MONTH IN HISTORY
Igbo Landing is a historic site at Dunbar Creek on St. Simons
Island, Glynn County, Georgia. It is where the Igbo
people who had taken control of their slave ship refused to become captives of
slavery in the United States. They committed a mass suicide in order to accomplish
this. This event marks a very important time in African American history as a
strong symbol of resistance to slavery by Igbo people.
In May 1803 a ship arrived in the middle
passage holding Africans that had been stolen from Igbo land; they
were to be auctioned off at one of the slave markets in Savannah Georgia. The
ship included around 75 Igbo people from the country of Nigeria in West Africa.
The Igbo were known for being fiercely independent and resistant to chattel
During the journey, the Igbo slaves rose up in strength and took
control of the ship, drowning their captors in the process causing the Monrovia
ship to be grounded in Dunbar Creek at the site now known as Igbo Landing.
Floyd White, an elderly African-American interviewed by the
Federal Writers Project in the 1930’s is recorded as saying:
“Heard about the Ibo’s Landing? That’s the place where they bring the Ibos
over in a slave ship and when they get here, they ain’t like it and so they all
start singing and they march right down in the river to march back to Africa,
but they ain’t able to get there. They gets drown”.
A typical Gullah telling of the events, incorporating many
of the recurrent themes that are common to most myths surrounding the Igbo
Landing, is recorded by Linda S. Watts:
“The West Africans upon assessing their situation resolved to risk their
lives by walking home over the water rather than submit to the living death
that awaited them in American slavery. As the tale has it, the tribes people
disembark from the ship, and as a group, turned around and walked along the
water, traveling in the opposite direction from the arrival port. As they took
this march together, the West Africans joined in song. They are reported to
have sung a hymn in which the lyrics assert that the water spirits will take
them home. While versions of this story vary in nuance, all attest to the
courage in rebellion displayed by the enslaved Igbo.”
It’s important to know that, Igbo slaves, along with ‘Angolas’ and ‘Congoes’ were most prone to be
runaways. Why is it important? Because it shows strength, to resist evil and
not succumb to the things that try to bring you down!
I find so much courage in this story. We have a story to
tell as a people.