Our own Rastafari warriors, who still fight against spiritual wickedness in high and low places, adopted the locks of the fearless Mau Mau and dubbed them ‘dread’. As a child, I was taught to fear the dreadlocked Rastaman, who, like the notorious ‘Blackheart Man’, was a very bad character in a terrifying bedtime story. You didn’t know why. But, in real life, just in case, you quickly crossed the road if you saw a Rastaman approaching. You knew he represented danger. He was likely to call down judgement on you, especially if hot comb or chemicals had turned your hair against itself: Fire pon burn head!
In the early years of the Rastafari movement, dreadlocks made a revolutionary political statement. Dread meant fierce, uncompromising assertion of black power. Dread was a potent celebration of ‘knotty head’ in all its rebellious glory. In a society that idolised limp, ‘straight’ hair, deciding to dread was a supremely self-confident act. Dread was also a question of aesthetics. It was an affirmation of the beauty of ‘own-way’ black hair. Ironically, dread was the original ‘relaxed’ hair, released from all of the uptight prescriptions designed to control wayward black hair.
In Jamaica, hair has always been a troubling moral issue. We still talk about ‘good’ hair versus ‘bad’ hair: the grain, texture and length. And the moral weighting of hair reflects the problematic ranking of skin colour: ‘high’ colour versus ‘low’. And we wonder why so many people are bleaching their skin and why women are collectively investing millions of dollars each year buying ‘good’ hair from India and China! Those who can’t afford the expensive ‘real’ good hair have to settle for the relatively cheap plastic version. But it all adds up.
I was recently told about a merchant in downtown Kingston who has made a fortune and built a mansion up in the hills out of hair. Packs and packs and packs of hair, real and false, have been converted into lengths of steel, textured building blocks, and waves and waves of smooth tiles flowing on and on and on. A solidly constructed building, luxuriously furnished out of the trade in seemingly insubstantial hair! I gather that this monument to female folly would put to shame the Holness garrison in Beverly Hills. And, by the way, I wish Andrew good luck in today’s election. Mi spirit tek im. But it seems like a lost cause. The Big Guns appear to have lined up to execute him - metaphorically speaking, of course. Cockroach no business inna fowl fight, so mek mi lef it.
The Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) has been running a brilliant series of ads based on the commonsensical principle that one less indulgence adds up to so much more value. I think VMBS should remind women who are addicted to ‘tall’ hair that one less pack of ‘weave’, and one less hour spent on installing it, will eventually add up to the down payment on a house! But it’s not easy to fight the addiction. The advertising industry in Jamaica conspires with the sellers of imported hair to reinforce the prejudice that tall hair is best. If you don’t believe me, just do a little survey of today’s ads in the print and electronic media.
Many Jamaican men are addicted to women with tall hair, and that’s the root of the problem. Not wanting to be left on the proverbial shelf, anxious females s/tress to impress. I understand the weakness of desperate women who desire improbably long ‘straight’ hair. They have to keep on buying the imported Chinese and Indian hair. It’s the women with braided false hair who puzzle me. I’ve asked several of them why they don’t just locks. The effect would be the same. They say that locks are too permanent. But since their hair is perpetually braided, this argument really doesn’t make much sense.
These days, the dread has been straightened out of dreadlocks. There’s a new brand of locks that’s a very distant cousin of the tree-root dreadlocks of Rastafari ancients. These upscale locks have been tamed by beauticians - or locticians, as they prefer to call themselves. Even hard-core Rastaman going to beauty parlour to dress dem hair. And there’s nothing fishy about it. This new breed of Rastaman is making an eloquent fashion statement. Who di cap fit, mek dem wear it!
NUDRED, NEW ATTITUDE
One of the issues with starting locks from scratch is having to go through the organic ‘picky-picky head’ stage. There’s a product on the market that can give you instant dreadlocks for real. Not weaved-in locks. It’s called Nudred, and it was developed in the United States by Brigitte Gopou and Bruce Boyd in 2004. I discovered it this summer in a barber shop in the UK. The basic tool is a sponge with 38 holes, each about one-third of an inch in diameter. You apply a special twisting cream, Nupotion, to natural hair and, with a circular motion you create locks. Seeing is believing, so have a look on YouTube.
In an email to me, Mr Boyd explained the Nudred vision: “The Big Chop is about inspiring people to not only remove harmful chemicals from their hair, but out of their lives too. Black Natural Hair Care is a movement to improve the community. By uplifting the community, there is a positive effect on the world. There is a beautiful message when you see one with an Afro, nappy, twisted, locked or any of the various natural styles. Simply saying I am embracing my true power - love for myself. Nurturing, Uplifting, Divinely, Rejuvenating, Evolving Daily - that’s NUDRED.” The company’s slogan is ‘NuHair, NuYou, NuLife!’ For women addicted to other people’s hair, it’s hard to break the habit. Perhaps we need to start an FHA support group - False Hair Anonymous - for all those women in Jamaica who need to get back to roots.
Carolyn Cooper is a professor of literary and cultural studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona. Visit her bilingual blog at http://carolynjoycooper.wordpress.com. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Maurice Rupert Bishop
May 29, 1944 - October 19, 1983
Winston Dookeran’s call for a discussion on the decriminalisation of Ganja is an opportunity to think about social change locally, and offers a potential way to reduce criminals, violence, and a lucrative underground economy.
There have already been a variety of commentaries offered in the local press. First came the conservative moral backlash. Then some lawyers spoke up, in less moral but still understandably conservative terms. Latterly a few commentators have come out in favour of not just decriminalisation but legalisation; pointing out the war on Ganja has already been lost.
In Portugal and Holland where it has been decriminalised, Ganja smoking across the entire population, after a short initial spike, reduced. And most importantly amongst under-18s who are the most vulnerable to mental health risks.
Some say Ganja arrived in the Caribbean via Amerindian groups. Others mention Spanish Conquistadors in the 1500s or suggest Ganja came from Africa with the slave trade. What we know for a fact is Ganja was brought to Trinidad in the mid 19th century by indentured labourers as a folk medicine and by the British themselves.
Toward the end of the 19th century the Colonial government using racist polemic demonised Ganja smoking. As is the way with neo-colonialism, and its failure to question many of the structuring principles from our Colonial past, this moralistic culture of disapproval echoes into our present thinking.
Ganja was made illegal locally in the first half of the 20th century. From this point forward and most desperately since the 1980s we have had a Ganja prohibition problem, rather than a Ganja problem. This is because just as drugs often have harmful consequences, drug prohibition has harmful consequences.
In the context of Ganja the law is also plainly unjust. For example, many middle and upper class persons in T&T drink alcohol in the evening to unwind; some in those same economic brackets do the same with Ganja. Yet those persons in the main do not end up in jail for Ganja offences.
While all groups across genders use Ganja, those who end up in jail for it are predominately young, male and low-income. This on-going, daily, 40-year criminalisation of a section of our population is a major cause of the troubles and the militarised violence we find ourselves with today.
In simple terms decriminalising Ganja would slow the conveyor belt of young men barred from acceptable society and left with few options for qualifications other than the criminal schools and universities we call gangs and prisons.
Before we suggest the solution is actually better law enforcement it is worth stepping back for a second and thinking about managing the problem. It is also important to recognise whether one backs the moral argument or the management argument, we are all on the same side. We all want to reduce the crime and misery accompanying the illegal Ganja economy.
From an anthropological vista – a bottom-up view of power locally – it is quite simple. Criminalising a cultural practice with a long history and well established locally creates its own dangerous consequences including organised crime, violent turf battles, and a waste of government funding that could be spent elsewhere such as education, prosecuting corruption, or improving transport.
There are many who suggest the scientific evidence says Ganja causes many health problems. Even if that evidence is as damning as many claim – and there is a lot of evidence to suggest some misinformation (see CNN’s Dr Sanjey Gupta’s recent video and article for a great overview) – it makes no sense to treat a health issue as a criminal matter or a personal moral failure.
To do so recruits the same racist logic of colonialism and produces a similar colonial inequality to times gone by.
The decriminalisation or legalisation of marijuana will not fix the problems of drug abuse, but it can fix the violent and socially unjust consequences of Ganja prohibition because no matter what we do Ganja is here to stay.
As such it seems pertinent to manage the problem and stop moralising it. Once we become managers we can take back some of the profit from the Ganja economy and find ways to bring it under a smartly regulated, legal system.
Ganja prohibition leads to crime, violence and corruption. It is a never-ending cycle that fuels what sociologists call the prison-industrial complex. To break the cycle we need to change the laws around Ganja and decriminalise many of our young males. In doing so we can start to provide better life options for them, decrease violence over all, and focus on the real danger drug – cocaine.
Dr Dylan Kerrigan is an anthropologist at UWI, St Augustine
Blogging last week, Mr Afra Raymond, the President of the Joint Consultative Council for the Construction Industry highlighted a 12 July 2013 affidavit filed by the Ministry of Finance in response to his Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests of 2012 and 2013.
His requests were for information connected to CL Financial. Requested documents included audited financial statements, presentations to Parliament, and a list of creditors.
There is much to dwell on in the official Government response. The tactics to thwart Mr Raymond requests for transparency are themselves suggestive, as is Mr Raymond’s question – “what is the big secret?”
For those interested in the official correspondence and more details of the case, Mr Raymond’s blog can be found here http://afraraymond.wordpress.com/
The legal drama playing out between the two parties is reminiscent of work the anthropologist Marilyn Strathern did in pre-1975 Papua New Guinea. There she asked a similar question: “what does visibility conceal”?
By this she meant transparency is never accomplished. Yes, transparency implies clarity, visibility and openness. But transparency in Government, organisations and amongst the powerful is more ritual than outcome. Not to mention that what might be seen and transparent for some, can often be off-limits and opaque for others.
In this sense transparency – the supposed watchword for good governance – is a negotiation. And as a negotiation transparency plays out in ritual forms. In our own society this means a dance through the courts with lawyers, various forms, and shifting goal posts. And this is where Strathern’s work is revealing.
In her studies of tribes in Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea, she wrote about how the big men of the tribes had competitive public ceremonies of gift giving and dancing. They put themselves on display in grand regalia and special decorations to counter the “scepticism and doubt” many villagers had about their benevolence and trustworthiness.
Strathern said such ceremonial displays were a competition between big men designed to “engage an audience,” and the spectators seemed to believe that what was shown on the outside – power, generosity and goodwill – was a representation of the person inside.
This public display or negotiation was meant to turn people into witnesses. With spectators evaluating the competing claims of the big men, about who’s power was greatest, through their outward appearance.
In this way spectators gained a sense of power being transparent. The crux however is that this was never real transparency, and over months the spectators – who’s lives changed little with the selection of each new big man – came to realise this too. Yet the ritual played out again and again.
Legal dramas over transparency in Western Governments and specifically FOIA requests can be understood in a like manner.
Yes, Governments and professional bodies appeal to the morality and importance of “transparency.” This is seen around the world where many such institutions decorate themselves as “open for business.” Offering a new transparent type of governance, where there are “checks and balances,” legal avenues to request Government documents, and ways to hold members “accountable”. In this way what was previously invisible – power through bureaucratic action – is supposedly made visible.
Yet in reality these Governments and organisations engage their own congregations in a similar grand display and ritual as the big men of Papua New Guinea. Governments purport to show the public the ethical and moral insides of their administration of power. And we as spectators come away with our ears full of the right language and words: witnesses to the will for disclosure.
But are we really witnesses to transparency? As Mr Raymond is experiencing, and many local Graduate students can attest, submitting FOIA requests rarely ends in the “transparency” promised or hoped for.
So another way to think about the issue of transparency then is to recognise the word as a cultural ritual.
Understood on Strathern’s terms Western Governments, organisations and professionals that now pay much lip service to their “transparency” and support it with the right language are less concerned with making the invisible visible, and more with acknowledging and tempering a more general feeling of mistrust amongst the general public.
Just as in Papua New Guinea our big men and women make grand displays of their own trustworthiness and openness in order to counter cynicism and get votes. The rituals of transparency – the courts, the language of full disclosure and more – are used to conceal the visible because appearance rather than substance is the logic of the negotiation.
Dr Dylan Kerrigan is an anthropologist at UWI, St Augustine
In conquest naming is a symbolic part of taking possession. And few Caribbean islands today retain their original Amerindian name – Jamaica being an exception, Haiti another – albeit for the whole island.
There are different stories about the name “Tobago”. Some say Tobago is of Amerindian origin. Others note it as a Spanish word. The archaeologist Arie Boomert adds stories of pre-Columbian names for Tobago such as Urupaina and Aloubaéra too.
In the Kali’na (Carib) language spoken by Amerindians of Trinidad, Tobago, and the Orinoco Valley, Urupaina meant “big or large snail.” While the name Aloubaéra comes from the Amerindians of Dominica and Martinique and was first recorded by French missionaries. They noted this was the name Amerindians gave Tobago.
One explanation offered for why both groups used these names for Tobago connects to an
Amerindian myth who’s central character is a monstrous snake. Alloüebéra or Oloubera, was the name some Amerindians groups gave to the snake.
The snake could make itself large and small. It had a bright red, all Seeing Eye in the middle of its forehead that sparkled like a jewel. They said the snake lived in a dark cave between two mountains where it left red excrement. And unless one fasted or abstained from sexual intercourse the snake killed all who ventured near it.
Boomert suggests that from afar the outline of Tobago reminded these Amerindian groups of the bejewelled snake of their mythology; Tobago’s mountainous northern ridge representing the head of the snake while the rest of the landmass the snake’s body. He suggests the bright red eyelid perhaps is the sun reflecting off outcrops of “phyllitic sericite schists” found in the rocks of northern Tobago.
In terms of European names many sources note Columbus was the first European to spot Tobago. Yet according to a chronicler of Columbus, Bartolomé de Las Casas, when Columbus first saw Tobago in 1498 he named it Bella Forma and Asumpción not Tabaco.
By 1511 those names had vanished from the written record and on Spanish maps and documents the name Tabaco appears. Throughout the sixteenth century this name is consistent in Spanish documents. However it is spelt in numerous ways – Tavaco, Tabaco, Tabacho, Tabago and Tavago.
Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Spanish continued to call the island Tabaco or Tabago. The Dutch used these spellings too. The British began to use Tubaguo and Tobago, while the French referred to the island as Tabuco or Tabac.
At first glance it would seem these names connect to the Spanish word tabaco – or tobacco in English. Yet Columbus didn’t know of tobacco because it is an indigenous plant of tropical America, which Europeans did not know of before Columbus’ voyages.
Some suggest tabaco is borrowed from the Arawakan language of the Taino. Yet this borrow was probably an error of translation because as the diaries of Las Casas and another chronicler Gonzalez Fernandez de Oviedo, the Taino applied the word not to the tobacco plant or cigars but tubes they used to inhale either smoke or powdered substances up their noses during ritual gatherings.
Just to make this a little more confusing Boomert points out that in the contact period a word found both in Italian and Spanish for herbs that induce excitement and vertigo already existed. This word was derived from a medieval Arab word, tabbâq or tubbâq.
Perhaps rather than borrowing a Taino word early Spanish colonialists used a word they were already familiar with to describe what they saw.
So where does this leave us? Certainly there are many strands to follow not all of which tell the same story about the name Tobago. In the main though Boomert says we can be fairly convinced of one thing, it was the Spanish and not local Amerindians who chose Tobago as the name of the island.
And just like the Amerindians named the island after topography that reminded them of a bejewelled snake, perhaps as Boomert suggests in Names for Tobago, which contains more information and backstory for those interested in learning more, the Europeans did the same too – albeit mistranslating tabaco for cigar.
As he puts it “we may conclude that the name Tobago represents a descriptive toponym, coined by some unknown Spanish sailor, possibly a slaver from Hispaniola, who passed by the island in the first decade of the sixteenth century and called it Tabaco as its contour reminded him of the cigars the Taíno were accustomed to smoke.”
Dr Dylan Kerrigan is an anthropologist at UWI, St Augustine
A few weeks back the T&T Guardian carried a column by British High Commissioner Arthur Snell about Air Passenger Duty (APD). It defended the tariff and pointed out: 1) statistically there is no evidence to say APD stops tourism to the Caribbean; 2) the main problem with the Caribbean tourism product is it is too expensive; and 3) that APD “aims to offset the negative environmental effects of long-haul air travel.”
Now it is worth pointing out that few in the Caribbean claimed APD is stopping tourism; rather many stress it is unfair—and the High Commissioner’s own figures bore that out. The second thing was the High Commissioner’s argument about “tourism product” costs, which, while true relatively, mask a problem often ignored in discussion about APD: APD affects the ability of many Caribbean emigrants and Caribbean people living in the Diaspora to return, travel back, and visit the Caribbean.
And with regard to the High Commissioner’s third point, any scientists doing their homework will tell you that APD and similar “environmental taxes” do not stop or offset climate change. What is needed on that front is a zero-growth economy—something a little radical for most politicians. While varied, the Caribbean Diaspora in the UK is just under one million. Some possess tertiary-level qualifications; many more are classed as low-income workers or professionals.
Like economic reality for most Brits under UK Austerity 2013, it is hard to imagine all but a small group of Caribbean emigrants with large disposable incomes right now. So any increases in air travel prices, even small ones, could prevent many people from affording travel to the Caribbean, where previously they could have; a discussion point often missing.
It is also important to reflect—no matter what some writers in the tourism sector suggest—that Caribbean emigrants are in the main not returning to the Caribbean for any tourism product. Rather, many return to the Caribbean to connect, see and maintain their links to family and friends, or to retire.
In a global economy in which the Caribbean and its labour force have always been abused—whether through slavery and colonialism, the low-income workers of the Windrush era, or the present service culture of modern Caribbean tourism (we serve, they visit)—Caribbean people can fairly say the socio-economic playing field has never been as opportune for them as some populations elsewhere.
As such many Caribbean families have seen members leave to live abroad. For a rough figure, ECLAC estimate that over the last 50 years the Caribbean has lost five million people and their economically productive lives to emigration.
Many within the Caribbean Diaspora left home due to poor employment opportunities, lack of educational opportunities or low remuneration levels. All of which are part of the historical legacies the Caribbean developed out of and the difficulties small island nations face in constructing competitive economies with high levels of employment.
In such a world remittances are major sources of cash for all Caribbean nations. In 2011 the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) reported, “Jamaicans abroad sent home US$2 billion.” Other remittance figures included: to Guyana US$401 million, T&T US$131 million, Suriname US$114 million and Belize $107 million.
From an anthropological perspective another important fact about the Caribbean Diaspora is the way it affects Caribbean family forms and culture. Many young people in the UK of Caribbean heritage are members of transnational family and kinship networks that anthropologists describe as “globally dispersed families.”
The experiences of some of these families are well documented. One characteristic of these families is the way in which travel to the Caribbean from the UK can be an important ritual and rite in the construction and maintenance of shared memories, histories, customs, language, traditions, values, trust, and reciprocity.
In the context of a British government policy not likely to be altered in the current global economic climate, it is easy to see why the good High Commissioner chooses to defend APD. Not to mention it is part of his job description to defend British interests and ideas about the world. That said, Caribbean culture and families are transnational for a variety of historical, economic and social reasons dictated to our islands rather than necessarily chosen by them.
In that light, rather than accept the defence of APD, we might alternatively describe APD from our point of view as a prohibitive tax that suffocates the transnational culture of the Caribbean and its families for crude economic calculations by a foreign government in financial turmoil.
• Dr Dylan Kerrigan is an anthropologist at UWI, St Augustine
Whether we are talking the invasion of Grenada in 1983, our war-torn colonial history, various armies on the ground in Haiti, or US military bases like Guantanamo, the Caribbean’s story is marked by a history of militarism.
In her book Bases of Empire, anthropologist Catherine Lutz notes that as of 2007, there were 77 US military bases of varying sizes, from massive to small, found across the Caribbean.
Today, the war on drugs is an example of regional militarisation, with Britain and the US conducting operations all over the Caribbean using high-tech military equipment in operations with catchy names like Operation Weed Eater.
This war is not only about eradicating drugs but it is also about something anthropologists call the “permanent war economy.” This economy is wide and has many facets. One in particular that affects small island nations is the economic aid that accompanies continued acceptance and participation in the war.
This aid comes in the form of military equipment, intelligence expansion, new surveillance and security technologies, and propaganda systems. It also provides a constant drive for some of the richer countries like T&T to purchase more and more military hardware, connecting their oil and gas capital straight to the war economy.
It is quite normal for our Minister of National Security to speak—without anyone questioning his logic—that it’s sensible to embrace the US-led war on drugs and purchase six naval vessels from the Colombian Government. Just like the previous Government was happy to spend billions on OPVs. Someone might want to take note that the largest consumer market for these drugs is the US and perhaps joining a war driven by the lifestyle of another nation is silly in the first place.
The sadness is that it’s as if the western world is only moving in one direction: increased militarisation. Hopes of a move toward demilitarisation as Seymour Melman—the US economist who wrote about the damaging social costs of military spending—once discussed, seem less and less likely.
In cultural terms, this overt military footing seeps into everyday life. It becomes embedded in everyday language and symbols. We describe gangs as militarist organisations. Young people demand to play the latest computer war games from Black Ops to Medal of Honour. Media—TV, film, music, sport and all the rest—are saturated with military themes. And insecurity becomes something only to be tackled through increases in military personnel and equipment.
Think about law enforcement in T&T. During the SoE it was the army conducting a lot of police operations. And recently the Minister of National Security asked citizens to apply to the Defence Force in order to protect national security. There’s also the Multi Agency Maritime Task Force, comprising coast guard, police, army, and customs officers, again blurring the boundaries between policing and military operations.
By the end of the next year we are promised the entire country will be under CCTV surveillance, as if that’s indisputably a good thing.
Yet, as the State becomes more militarised, so too does the whole of society, including those the State deems criminals. That AK-47s are a more regular weapon in our poorest areas is an example of a militarised drug industry. That our private security industries also take on the semblance of military organisations with CCTV systems, guard dogs, high-tech security systems and military-style outfits is another example of militarism.
In a presentation a few years ago, Prof Rhoda Reddock pointed out this new culture of insecurity leads to armies being seen as saviours and opens the risk for a reduction in our human rights. Normal, peaceful communities become bloodthirsty, seeking revenge and punishment. Meanwhile, the demands for security extend distance between the rich and poor, as only some can afford to protect themselves through private security firms.
Where does this militarised society lead? On the one hand it’s clear some sort of army for defence is legitimate and can be useful in economic terms. Yet on the other side, what is too much? Have we not passed that mark? Can we go back? Are there really no other ways to organise our society than to curtail freedoms and become more militarised? And what sort of future is that?
• Dylan Kerrigan is an anthropologist at UWI, St Augustine
AS uniquely perplexing as the source of cocaine may seem, it is but the youngest of a long lineage of substances which provide novel sensory experiences. The economic forces driving cocaine’s production and generating hostility toward it are no different today from what they were three centuries ago when the rising flood of commerce in tea, coffee, sugar and tobacco linked Western Europe to its tropical colonies and revolutionized world consumption.
Precious objects and materials in great variety —ivory, spices, dyes, medicines, plants, silk— had been carried across the earth’s surface for millenia to satisfy the cravings of the rich and powerful. In the concluding decades of the seventeenth century, merchants, plantation owners, slave traders and government officials discovered that satisfying the desires of the humble might prove even more profitable than pleasing the palates of the wealthy.
Chief among those nonessential foods were the bitter stimulant beverages —coffee from the Middle East, chocolate from the New World, tea from China— and sugar. Their first appearance in Europe was linked to Europe’s aggressive outward thrusts beginning at the end of the fifteenth century and rising in tempo thereafter. Making these beverages intensely sweet, as well as calorie-rich, was sugar— known to the Europeans for centuries, but rare and precious until it began to arrive in substantial quantities from the New World. Though not a food, tobacco accompanied these other novelties and came to be consumed with happy, almost meal-like regularity.
As more and more disinherited rural people gathered in Europe’s cities and industrial production spread, tea and sugar came to satisfy people who were hungry anyway. The sweet calories were welcome, the hot drink itself made a cold meal seem warm, and the stimulant cheered the ill, the ill-fed, the overworked, the very young, the elderly. Often supplanting more nutritive substances —including beer, ale and broth— tea led the new pattern of consumption, changing from a treat for royalty to the very symbol of working class hospitality and homeyness, the first pause that refreshed.
While the English became strongly habituated to tea and sugar, the tropical areas where they were produced underwent drastic transformations. Tea remade the Indian subcontinent and the economic life of its peoples. The production of the leaf became a means for the control of land, the regimentation of labor and the expansion of British civil and military power. In the Antilles, sugar brought enslavement, the destruction of indigenous peoples and the reordering of life around the plantation. It drew over 1.5 million enslaved Africans to the British West Indies between the 1640’s and the end of the British slave trade in 1808.