Historians work to preserve slave castle in Sierra Leone
Bunce Island was a crucial area to American slave trade in 18th Century
Wealthy anonymous donors in the United States, a group of historians,
archaeologists and concerned citizens are working to preserve what's
left of the infamous slave castle on Bunce Island near Sierra Leone in
Africa. The area is a crucial site in remembering America's slave trade
in the 18th and 19th centuries. Philanthropists now want to build a
museum that explores the island's role in the transatlantic slave trade.
Bunce Island, along with it's notorious 'slave castle,' is overgrown by jungle, and only gets a handful of tourists every year. The ruins of the castle is smothered by vines and eroded by the 13 feet of rain that fall every year in Sierra Leone.
Bunce Island, along with it's notorious "slave castle," is overgrown by jungle, and only gets a handful of tourists every year. The ruins of the castle is smothered by vines and eroded by the 13 feet of rain that fall every year in Sierra Leone.
"It's the most important historic site in Africa for the United States," Joseph Opala told the Christian Science Monitor. An American historian and the director of the U.S. branch of the Bunce Island Coalition, Opala's organization that is working to preserve the island.
According to Opala, roughly a quarter of the tens of thousands of slaves who passed through Bunce were shipped directly to what is now the U.S.
"This island had a very strong connection to North America, and it's the only one of the African slave castles that did," Opala says.
Bunce was most active in the middle of the 1700s, when the rice plantations in the southern Colonies were getting big enough to warrant slave labor. Plantation owners in Georgia and South Carolina wanted to buy slaves who already knew how to cultivate rice, a challenging crop that they had little experience with themselves.
So they sought out slaves from what was then known as Africa's "rice coast," which reached from Senegal to Liberia.
The notorious island has left its stamp on American culture. The Gullah people, a community of African-Americans along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts, use words from a handful of Sierra Leonean languages, and they give their children traditional Sierra Leonean names such as Hawa and Isata for girls and Sorie and Tamba for boys.
Poet Maya Angelou and politician Jesse Jackson are among the African-Americans who have discovered their Sierra Leonean roots through DNA testing.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Bunce Island Sierra Leone, slavery, American history
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