Dreams of Africa in Alabama
Dreams of Africa in Alabama The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America By Diouf, Sylviane A., 1952- Book - 2007

The Clotilda was the last slave ship to bring Africans to the US, done on a bet. The transatlantic slave trade was outlawed in 1808, and the government tried to stop it, as the internal slave trade was more lucrative. Numbers of Africans imported vary after 1808, but no one disputes that the Clotilda was the last, landing in Mobile a year before the outbreak of the Civil War. Diouf researched life in West Africa, specifically Benin, where the Clotilda bought 110 captives. They came from various cultures and spoke various languages; ages ranged from late teens to late 20s. These were what slave buyers in the South called "prime hands," the most valuable to work the cotton fields. Back home, some had many more valuable skills, some were nobles, but all were ripped from their families and homes. This group's Middle Passage was typical, though few if any died. In spite of language differences, captives formed a close-knit group based on African culture. On landing, they were forced into the swamps for weeks, starved, the ship scuttled and burned. Eventually the captain who brought them and the family involved in bringing them divided up most of them. They were always outsiders; always Africans. After Emancipation, they wanted to go home to Africa. Becoming hopeless, they stayed close to the plantations where they'd worked, buying land, founding African Town, helping each other build a school, churches, subsistence farm, as they would have in Africa. The town still exists, as a neighborhood of Mobile. A fascinating, well researched and written book.

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