La Wazza slave uprising

The captain decided he should let the slaves get some air, they had been traveling nonstop for sixteen days and the bunch had been shackles to the floorboards in the lower deck the whole time. It was going to be another nine days before they anchor at the nearest port. He was always weary of their black faces and wails though he was gradually getting used to it, his fourth visit to the African colonies in as many years.
“Mavisto” he called out to the crew head who ran towards him eagerly. “Get them blackies on deck gently, don’t remove the fetters, the ladies first before the men. I don’t want them loosing it all, they are better of healthy than sickly. Get Kuza to assist you.”
“Aye captain” Mavisto replied heading off.
“Don’t forget to take extra care, em’ blackies can be a handful.”
The lower decks contained a total of one hundred and eighteen Africans, Seventy two men and fourth six women from different ports. They were all crammed together and chained by selective grouping to maximise space. The women were stationed in the outer part, the men farther behind, the stubborn ones who had tried resisting were bound with bilboes. The air was musty from the stench of their bodies which haven’t been washed in days. Few of the women had their breasts covered while a majority had it dangling and exposed. The men were bare-chested with only loincloths covering their private parts. The ambience was of despondency and sorrow of people being taken out of their homelands and families to a place unknown, a place referred to as the ‘New world.” The women were tired of shedding tears and wailing, crying only made them weaker. They sat huddled close to each other for comfort and those that shared a common language often sang in sombre tones bemoaning their fate. Most of the men were in a melancholic state with their heads bowed, some not having uttered a single word through the course of the voyage.
Mavisto climbed down the ladder leading to the lower deck, a tall lanky Spaniard with a weather-beaten face and slick black hair, close behind him was Kuza and two other sailors. Mavisto had a rifle slung at his shoulders while the others had bullwhips. The crew stood in the middle of the deck with dark faces surrounding them. Mavisto motioned Kuza to do the talking. Kuza a short stocky flat nosed African who had once been in the same condition as the lot, having been sold into slavery two decades earlier. He was regarded as a higher slave by the masters and he played a pivotal role in organising his fellow Africans. He had better communication with them. Kuza said some words in a strange dialect telling the Africans his directive, motioning the women to file out first with the men to follow. The Negros reluctantly rose to their feet, some of them relishing the pleasure of getting to see the sun though they also knew that failure to obey will attract the bullwhip.
Buruchi lazily got to his feet, he had not uttered a word since being forced into the ship, he had only tried resisting and now he was bound in bilboes. He mostly blamed himself for bring entangled in the situation, he could not believe he was never going to see home again, Kuza had repeated it to them. If only he had not been exiled after his community lost the war which eventually led to his capture, he was sure he would have still been home.
He suddenly heard commotion outside and minutes later the women were led back inside accompanied by almost a dozen crew members who lashed out their whips on some of the women who wailed and thrashed themselves on the wooden deck floors, apparently some had tried to commit suicide by throwing themselves overboard. The captain was mad at the thought of loosing slaves due to what he considered his goodwill, one of the slaves had succeeded in going overboard and the other ones who had attempted before being restrained he ordered to be whipped. He subsequently cancelled the exercise and the slaves remained shackled to the lower deck.african_slaves_being_taken_on__hi.jpg
Buruchi was disheartened, he had anticipated the opportunity to see the sun. It pained him to see the women being whipped, his anger flaring but he realized he was helpless to the situation.
Hours later Kuza walked in and began his sermons, telling them that rebellion will only increase their woes, how life onboard the ship was better than death in a shark’s belly or at the bottom of the ocean. He told them that as a punishment for the suicidal ladies, food rations were being cut off for the full day. None of the slaves were overly bothered about food, some intentionally trying to starve themselves to death, an action which also attracted the bullwhip if discovered.
Shande sat scrunched at the corner of the deck floor, a young girl of sixteen with raven hair, her complexion was lighter than the rest of the slaves, she was beautiful and fine boned. She had not eaten in three days, she was harbouring thoughts of starving to death. She continuously slipped into trances of how she got to her current predicament. She had been heavily ostracized for being different in her hometown, they generally believed she had been banished by the river goddess to come and cause chaos to men, they blamed her for their misfortunes and finally unanimously agreed she was to be sold to the white men. She knew she was different, she looked different and acted different, she sometimes had nightmares of belonging to another realm. She knew she could have stirred up some powers to stop being sold to the white men but she was tired and didn’t actually feel part of the village so she didn’t resist as she was being shackled and led away. She had not envisaged the cruelty of the slave ship and the inhumane treatment received from the slave masters. She was tired and wanted to end it all. Her problems might become worse in the new world.
La Wazza had now been traveling for twenty two days, two days behind schedule due to heavy storms and terrible weather, conditions were worsening on the large sixteen year old former cargo ship now mainly used for the transportation of slaves. Some cases of yellow fever had been reported amongst the slaves, crew and sailors. Activities were slow in the lower deck and twenty seven out of the one hundred and eighteen that embarked on the journey were lying at the bottom of the ocean, two sailors were dead and the ship cook reportedly sick, conditions were abysmal. Buruchi was now free of his bilboes and was now shackled to the floor boards with the rest of the slaves, there was little room for movement. The skin on his elbow was getting worn to the bone from being pinned to the floorboards for a long portion of time bringing him so much pain. He had began communicating with his fellow slaves, becoming a voice to the lost ones and harbouring thoughts of an escape. He had noticed that the men and women in the lower decks were young and able-bodied, the captain having made thorough selection in getting the best slaves. He had a plan, they were going to take control of the ship.
Shande noticed the men talking in hushed tones, spreading word around them, she could swear they were up to something. The plan was mostly being orchestrated by the tallest man with a barrel chest formerly bound separately. She knew something was brewing and she wanted to be part of it.
Mavisto staggered down the stairs of the lower deck with a bottle of rum in hand, his rifle slung on his shoulder as usual. He could not take his thoughts off the ivory skinned slave with black hair. He wanted to have her for a night and always. Was she not just a slave? He was of superior position and he was going to utilise the opportunity. He did not like going to the lower decks anymore, the conditions of the slaves were deteriorating daily and with the yellow fever in the ship he tried to be careful not to fall a prey to the disease. It was his second journey to the African colonies and the previous one had been way smoother than the present one, only the beautiful slave made him dare come to the lower deck if not on the authority of the captain. Something he couldn’t fathom compelled him to her. He approached her with a smile, no need talking because she would not understand him. He motioned her to follow him which she did without hesitation.
Shande came back hours later with bruises on her neck and back, the sailor had tried to force himself on her but she would not let him, she had humbly followed because she wanted a breath of fresh air and also to get more knowledge of the ship to aid whatever the barrel chested man was planning. She had played her cards in a way the sailor will definitely come back for her.
Buruchi was now in the advanced stage of his plan and the last piece of his puzzle seemed solved, he was going to use the beautiful girl that looked different from the rest of them. He had to find a way to get to her and make her comply.
Day twenty five on board La Wazza, eight more dead slaves and two more dead sailors, mortality rate was high and the captain was afraid for his boot, less than twenty four hours to the nearest port. The voyage was the worse he had ever experienced, but time off at the Cariba islands with recuperate the passengers for the remainder of the journey to the Americas.
Buruchi had laid down the plans for the uprising and the slaves were ready for action, he did not find it difficult to get the beautiful woman to his side, she was an enigma, a very mysterious entity. It had taken a lot of guts to connive  with Kuza to be part of the plan.
Mavisto climbed down the ladder with Shande in his arms, she had suddenly collapsed on getting to his bunk, he had tried rousing her to no avail, she was still alive but was not moving a limb, so he had no choice than to carry her to the lower deck. He was just stepping down the last ring when a swarm of black faces attacked him, dispossessing him of his rifle and shackling him to the floorboards.
Kuza had unlocked their shackles. The tall slaves’ plan sounded concrete enough for him to gamble. He was not happy to be part of the slave ship and slave business but he had no choice. Conditions on the ship were better than that on the plantations. The captain had announced they were hours away from the Cariba islands and he knew it was the perfect place for the escape. He had quickly notified the lead slave that any uprising should be in a matter of hours.
tumblr_m7g39giIhh1rba4oko1_500.pngThe captain was at the control room when he heard commotion and gunshots, he immediately knew something was up, he cursed himself for not having his pistol at hand. If the blackies had revolted as he thought, it was the perfect time, most of the sailors were sick, they were close to the port and they had the sheer advantage of numbers. He quickly hastened to his chambers to get his pistol when he was stopped by a horde of black faces with a rifle and bullwhips.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s