And now we begin the Igbo story in the Americas, enjoy!
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 took their lives in order to accomplish this resistance. 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 bight of Biafra in West Africa. The Igbo were known for being fiercely independent and resistant to slavery.
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 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”.
The Gullah people, a people said to be descendants of Igbo’s, with many claiming their Igbo ancestry, live and dwell in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. They speak an Afro-Creole language and continue some Igbo customs as seen in their food and cultural traditions such as the Masquerade that I told you all about last week, deriving from Igbo culture and found in Caribbean cultures. I will talk more bout the Gullah Geechee next week, I just wanted to introduce the Igbo culture in the Americas, and not overfeed you! Here is an excerpt I found from a white woman describing the Gullah description of the Igbo experience. I mention white woman because as always, when they translate something, it may not always be the best, but I did like the excerpt enough to add it in my blog post…
“The West Africans upon 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, were most prone to be runaways. Why is it important? Because it shows strength, to resist evil and not succumb to the west and their divide and conquer tactics!
I find so much courage in this story. I thank my ancestors for their resistance….