The Passage From West Africa to the West Indies and Latin AmericaPosted: September 27, 2011
The majority of Africans captured into slavery were a result of wars happening in Central and West Africa. The Europeans were around to provide firearms for the warring and they greatly benefited from these nations being at war. Individuals and families towns and villages were raided and captured into slavery. They were bound together by rope and wooden yoke around their necks. Many people died and were even murdered on the journey to the trading stations or factories. These factories were holding cells where the captured Africans were separated from families and ethnic groups (to prevent rebellion), subjected to dehumanizing body inspections, and were branded with the logo of the traders company. They were left in these trading stations for weeks and even months. Most if not all of the Africans had never seen white people and thought the Europeans were witches and cannibals.
On the journey to the West Indies, many Africans would jump out of the boats, trying to escape capture, and all of whom died. Others would band together and start a rebellion. The ships that transported slaves were called Slavers. The trip from West Africa to the West Indies, depending on the size of the ship, took anywhere from 40 days to six months. As the demand for slaves increased, their was an increasing amount of piracy and sea wars for slaves.
On the slavers, captured Africans were boarded and tightly packed. The reason being, the captains would have one-hundred or two-hundred more slaves than the ship could manage. The Africans were planked on shelves with very little body and head space. Male slaves were chained together with the woman and children on separate decks. The conditions on the slavers were disgusting and deadly. The ship crew barely fed the slaves, they didn’t clean the feces, the slaves were not allowed to exercise, and they would have to remain with dead bodies and the dangerously sick. Many Africans died on the journey to the West Indies. Malaria, yellow fever, measles, dysentery and other diseases were rampant and killed lots of people. The floor was covered with blood and mucus; it was awful. Along with the wrath of disease, African women were subjected to sexual abuse by the crew members. It is noted that the sexual abuse has influenced African women attitudes about sexuality and as a result, when the slaves reached the Caribbean and Latin America, they didn’t reproduce.