Thursday, December 10, 2015

Slavery was a business that all was involved in both black and white. When a slave ship went down into the sea the people who perished were simply referred to as lost cargo not even lives although they were hundreds of men women and children. 200 years ago a ship called The Saint Joseph sank holding many slaves who died. Few records exist of who exactly died in the shipwreck because not many records were kept on cargo. Lonnie Bunch is the Founding Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. He is looking for artifacts and historical documents to fill his new Museum that is about to open in Washington D.C. soon.
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They went looking for the slave ship just to compile evidence of the business of slaves in the late 1800’s. Mozambique Island was claimed by Portuguese Colonists 500 years ago but it was a slave port. An Island off Africa in the Indian Ocean where many ships left and did not return.  The worst vessels were used for the slave trade. They built a fort on the island called Saint Sebastian named after the Christian Martyr who was captured and  murdered in Rome in the year 288. The fort is huge with many inner buildings and oversaw the trade of over 400,000 slaves. It was a business. Africans were hired to collect slaves. The slave industry was a business for African chiefs too.
It was a business that made people wealthy fast. An average size male would sell for anywhere from $600 to $1,500 which would be about $9,000 to $15,000 dollars today. In the years before the Civil War the amount of money invested in slaves was more than the amount of money invested in railroads, banks and businesses combined. This was the economic engine of Europe and the United States just as  the men of Nepal work like slaves in Dubai now. Americans need to realize that how tragic and horrible slavery was, it was a business for both Africans and Europeans.
Some believe that slavery is the most important thing in maritime archaeology. There is a history of broken slave ships in the oceans. Ships contained as many as 400 slaves in the cargo areas bound for Brazil at a time. Many people on the voyages died. They stood side by side with little food or water and no sanitation on a journey that could take as much as four months. It was slavery on a global industrial scale and it went on from the year 1500 to the late 1800’s. It was about at least 12 Million people over time forced to live this way. People who were taken from their homelands to across the sea somewhere with no names or documentations.
Off Cape Town in South Africa storms took vessels like the Saint Joseph and all died. The shores are full of rocks there.  In 2010 metal detectors discovered bars of iron and surviving captains and crew wrote about their survival and the death of their cargo. The slaves were not even referred to as people. Just cargo and the loss of revenue.   

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