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The Igbo in the Atlantic slave trade

The Igbo in the Atlantic slave trade

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The Igbo
Igbo people
Igbo people, also referred to as the Ibo, Ebo, Eboans or Heebo are an ethnic group living chiefly in southeastern Nigeria. They speak Igbo, which includes various Igboid languages and dialects; today, a majority of them speak English alongside Igbo as a result of British colonialism...

 in the Atlantic slave trade
Atlantic slave trade
The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the trans-atlantic slave trade, refers to the trade in slaves that took place across the Atlantic ocean from the sixteenth through to the nineteenth centuries...

became one of the main ethnic groups enslaved in the era lasting between the 16th and late 19th century. Located near indigenous Igbo territory, the Bight of Biafra (also known as the Bight of Bonny
Bonny
Bonny is a town and a Local Government Area in Rivers State in southeast Nigeria, on the Bight of Biafra. It was also the capital of the Kingdom of Bonny. Traditionally it was a major trading post of the eastern delta....

), became the principal area in obtaining Igbo slaves. The Bights major slave trading ports were located in Bonny
Bonny
Bonny is a town and a Local Government Area in Rivers State in southeast Nigeria, on the Bight of Biafra. It was also the capital of the Kingdom of Bonny. Traditionally it was a major trading post of the eastern delta....

 and Calabar
Calabar
Calabar is a city in Cross River State, southeastern Nigeria. The original name for Calabar was Atakpa, from the Jukun language....

; a large number of these slaves Igbo. Slaves, kidnapped or bought from fellow Africans, were taken to Europe and the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 by European slave traders. An estimated 14.6% of slaves were taken from the Bight of Biafra between 1650 and 1900, the third greatest percentage in the era of the transatlantic slave trade.

Ethnic groups were fairly saturated in certain parts of the Americas because of planters preferences in certain African peoples. The Igbo where dispersed to colonies such as Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

, Barbados
Barbados
Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Belize
Belize
Belize is a constitutional monarchy and the northernmost country in Central America. Belize has a diverse society, comprising many cultures and languages. Even though Kriol and Spanish are spoken among the population, Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official...

, Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

 among others. Elements of Igbo culture can still be found in these places. In the United States the Igbo were found common in the state of Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

  and Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

.

Effects


It is estimated that a total of 1.4 million Igbo people were transported (via European ships) across the Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 in the era of Atlantic slave trade. Most of these ships were British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

.

Barbados



The Igbo were dispersed to Barbados in large numbers. Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano
Olaudah Equiano also known as Gustavus Vassa, was a prominent African involved in the British movement towards the abolition of the slave trade. His autobiography depicted the horrors of slavery and helped influence British lawmakers to abolish the slave trade through the Slave Trade Act of 1807...

, a famous Igbo author, abolitionist and ex-slave, was dropped off on Barbados after being kidnapped from his hometown near the Bight of Biafra. After arriving in Barbados he was promptly shipped to Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

. At his time, 44 percent of the 90,000 Africans disembarking on the island (between 1751 and 1775) were from the bight
Bight (geography)
In geography, bight has two meanings. A bight can be simply a bend or curve in any geographical feature—usually a bend or curve in the line between land and water....

. These Africans were therefore mainly of Igbo origin. The links between Barbados and the Bight of Biafra had began since the mid seventeenth century, with half of the African slaves arriving on the island originating from there.

Haiti


Some slaves arriving in Haiti included Igbo people, here they were considered suicidal and therefore they were unwanted by plantation owners here. According to Adiele Afigbo
Adiele Afigbo
Adiele Eberechukwu Afigbo was a Nigerian historian known for the history and historiography of Africa, more particularly Igbo history and the history of Southeastern Nigeria...

 there is still the Creole saying of Ibos pend'cor'a yo (the Ibo hang themselves). Aspects of Haitian culture that exhibit this can be seen in the Ibo loa
Ibo loa
Ibo loa or Igbo loa, are a type of loa, of African origin, revered in Haiti. These loa are linked to the Igbo people. They are considered to be both stern and gentle, while the Petro or Vodou loa tend to be one or the other respectively....

, a Haitian loa
Loa
The Loa are the spirits of the voodoo religion practiced in Louisiana, Haiti, Benin, and other parts of the world. They are also referred to as Mystères and the Invisibles, in which are intermediaries between Bondye —the Creator, who is distant from the world—and humanity...

 (or deity) created by the Igbo in the Vodun religion.

United States


In the United States the Igbo slaves were known for being rebellious. In some states such as Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, the Igbo had a high suicide rate. Igbo slaves were most numerous in the states of Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 and Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

,

In the 19th century the state of Virginia received around 37,000 slaves from Calabar
Calabar
Calabar is a city in Cross River State, southeastern Nigeria. The original name for Calabar was Atakpa, from the Jukun language....

 of which 30,000 were Igbo according to Douglas B. Chambers. The Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia
Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia
The Frontier Culture Museum, located in Staunton, Virginia is a living history museum that tells the story of the people who migrated from the Old World to America and the life they created in the Shenandoah Valley...

 estimates around 38% of captives taken to Virginia were from the Bight of Biafra. Igbo peoples constituted the majority of enslaved Africans in Maryland. Chambers has been quoted saying "My research suggests that perhaps 60 percent of black Americans
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 have at least one Igbo ancestor
Ancestor
An ancestor is a parent or the parent of an ancestor ....

..."