125% is how much effort I put in for this story and the grade I got on it. So I figured that for today’s creative thing, I’ll share my story on the life of a slave. It might be a little long for some tastes because when printed out its five pages and eleven if double spaced. I hope you like it. And if you don’t, oh well.
One day, I was walking home from the school that was two villages over with my friend, Abdi, and we were talking about the recent disappearances of people from our village. We mentioned how it was very weird that at least twenty people had gone missing all of a sudden. There was rumor that people from other tribes had kidnapped them, but I found that hard to believe. Abdi says that he overheard his mother talking to my mother about the situation. He also said that his uncle was most likely taken by slave traders and his uncle disappeared just two days ago. He’s been taking it very hard and is often solemn now. I don’t understand the point of slaves though. Shouldn’t people be able to do things themselves? Slave trade has been becoming more and more prominent. When I hear things like this, I feel very afraid because I’ve heard such bad stories. Guys are supposed to be strong and courageous, but I’m not like that.
We stopped at Abdi’s home and we said our goodbyes. He told me to be careful walking by myself, but its broad daylight so I didn’t take his advice to seriously. My house is only ten minutes away and I doubt that I will get snatched up. I was walking down the dirt road when I heard a rustle in the tree’s not too far beside me. When I looked around I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary and kept walking. One moment later, I saw three men of my own color, running at me with nets and knives. They tangled me up in the nets and threatened that if I struggled too much or screamed I would be killed on the spot. Dang it! I should have done something when I heard the leaves moving and I should have run or been more cautious like Abdi said. I didn’t think this would happen to me though!!! They were carrying me through the forest quietly and swiftly. I was afraid that they could hear my thoughts because my head was spinning with words and everything is happening so fast.
My head hit a tree and everything went black. When I woke up, I was out of the nets, but my hands and feet were shackled. I was lying on the ground and feeling dizzy. I saw many other men and women on the beach beside me, except they were standing. I also noticed the same three men who kidnapped me and some white men. It looked and sounded like the three men were negotiating with the white men on a price. My stomach dropped when I figured out that men of my own race would sell me and the others to the white men. We are all brothers and sisters, although we may not have the same parents. Why sell each other for the mere satisfaction of money?
On the beach there were maybe sixty or seventy of us shackled together. There were men, women, and small children. I noticed no one else from my village. Of all the men and boys, I was the scrawniest. Being the smallest made me feel uncomfortable. I’m average height, but very skinny for a fourteen year old boy. There was a medium sized ship on the beach and there were some white men looking and analyzing us. When a short chubby one got to me, he stared at me a little longer. He poked at me and stared for what felt like forever. Maybe I was his favorite or maybe I was too small and scrawny to be a slave and I would get to go home or maybe since I was too small they would kill me. Hundreds of possibilities swirled through my head and a single tear fell down my face. No, I can’t cry. Boys are supposed to be strong and fearless, neither of which I am. I was able to hold in the tears and no more tears ran down. The chubby white man yelled over to the all of the men talking to the African slave traders. They all came over to me and examined me. They spoke in a language I didn’t understand and they lifted my arms, smacked my stomach, and they did multiple other things to me. I think it was a test to see how strong and healthy I was. The men shrugged and nodded and commented on me. The chubby man continued on looking at everyone and the rest went back to talk to the slave traders.
I felt very violated and confused. When I saw that the chubby man had finished checking everybody out and the slave traders and white men shook hands, I knew it was final. Many of the women were crying as we boarded onto the ship that was docked at the beach. We went into a small, dark, and damp room in the bottom of the boat. We were all squished in there tightly and had to stand up because of the limited space. When the white men were finished stuffing us into an ungodly small space, they closed the door and left us in the dark. The only light was the light from the sun through the small holes in the ceiling. It was quiet for a moment after the loud thud of the doors closing and the sound of a lock being locked. Then most people went wild. The ladies were wailing and men were yelling and children were hugging their mothers or anyone really, as if holding on for their dear lives. There were only a few quiet ones like me; we were the ones who realized that no amount of crying and yelling would make the white men let us go.
After a while, all of the yelling and wailing died down. Some of the women had stopped crying and the other ladies were crying silently to themselves. The men were talking to each other in angry tones about the situation. They called the white men words that I had never even heard before. I was busy looking through the small holes in the ceiling catching glimpses of what the white men were doing. They were looking at maps and walking around while we were chained together. The men were also yelling at each other and stomping. When the sun was setting, the door opened back up. They gave us a small meal of rice and water the still left me hungry. Sometimes someone would drop a grain or two of rice and another person would dive down to get it and eat it, that’s how hungry we were. I am the older of the children, but most of them complained that they were hungry and some people gave them some of what little food they had. I remained strong and didn’t beg for any food from anyone. I didn’t want to take anything from anyone. Plus, my family is poor and I’m used to not having much to eat.
When night fell and the moon was beginning to come up, the door opened the door again. About fifteen white men came in one by one choosing a woman. The white men unshackled the woman of their choice and led them out the door. Maybe those few women and girls were going to be given their freedom, I had hoped. When the white men were done choosing, they closed the door and the rest of us were left in the darkness. There was light chatter among everyone of why those fifteen women were chosen to leave. We wondered if they would come back and if they did come back, what condition would they be in? With the extra people gone, there was a bit more space. The little kids were able to sit down and sleep along with a few other women. Most people were very tired and they were falling asleep while standing up. I was wide awake though. I’m a quiet kid, but there is no way I can sleep in a situation like this. We are being taken as slaves to who knows where!
Above us, I could hear faint screams and crying and that made me very worried. Maybe something bad happened or something went wrong. They are my sisters and I wish nothing bad to happen to them. The crying went on and then there was yelling and laughing. The crying stopped after that and there were only the sounds of the white men laughing and talking. I hope that my younger sister doesn’t ever get captured by slave traders. If anything were to happen to her or my mother, I would be extremely angry.
Now that mostly everyone is asleep, I start crying. I’m scared for my life even though that is against everything that a man is. I have to constantly remind myself that men are supposed to be hard and fearless warriors. I can’t help but feel shame in myself for breaking. I suppose that it is not so bad because none of the still awake men and women can see me cry in the dark. I’ve heard stories of people owning slaves right in Africa. They are stories of men of my own race owning others. They work dusk till dawn with no pay and little food. I would hate for that to happen to anyone, let alone me.
Sometime later, the small door opened up and the fifteen women came back in. Their faces were sad and as soon as the door closed behind the white men, they cried their eyes out. Most of them cried themselves to sleep and since some people were sitting down, there was even less room for them to stand. I felt bad for them, although I only knew whatever happened to them must have been terrible for them to be crying this much.
My eyes were getting a little droopy when I could see the light from the moon through the small peepholes. That means it must be around midnight. I started falling asleep and had a pleasant dream. I dreamed that becoming a slave was a dream. I dreamed that when I woke up, I was at home in the hut. MY mother and sister were already awake getting ready to go out to get some water. I went outside, the sun was shining, and my friend Abdi was already out there waiting for me. We went to the schoolhouse and afterwards played games. That’s when I woke up.
When I woke up, the sun was shining brightly through the few peepholes in the ceiling and it stung my eyes. Most people were already awake and asking the fifteen women about what happened to them. The women said that they were used for the white men’s pleasure. That shocked me and I became very upset at this. Most of the girls chosen were barely even adults yet. Using young girls like that is highly frowned upon in my village and neighboring ones. The ladies were crying again about it and people stopped asking questions.
We must have been getting into pretty bad waters because some people were starting to get sick. Maybe three or four people were throwing up. The smell was very bad and when the white men came in and their face became scrunched up at the smell. They had come to give us our meal for today. I guess the smell was too bad because they just threw down the small bag of rice and two small jugs of water. We divided up the rice among ourselves in equal portions and ate. They floor was also getting wet. It was already damp but in the middle of the ocean more got in.
All day, people were crying and throwing up. One small girl just a little younger than me got very sick. She’s throwing up a lot and coughing. I had no idea how she got so sick but she is becoming even more frail than most of us and is running a high fever. Later this week, she died. The white men took her away and most likely threw her in the ocean. We all cried for her and hoped she passed to a better place.
Every day for the next two months was the same. It consisted of people crying, dying and different women were used each night. Seven people died in the short on the ship. But one day, we were all taken to the top of the ship. The sun burned our eyes because had lived in darkness for months. The women were all unshackled from the men and then they were put in groups of five. The white men grabbed the women and threw them in the ocean. The chains are very heavy too so there’s no way that they could swim themselves to safety. The women still onboard cried even more and struggled as they were being taken to be thrown in the ocean. I think they were supposed to be an example for the rest of us.
After all of the women were in the ocean, the rest of us were led back to the small room. With thirty people gone and forty of us left, there was more space to spread out. I cried for those women who lost their lives because of the selfishness of the white men. It was very quiet down there. Something that shocked me was that I noticed a big man crying. I think one of the women was his wife. Everyone here had been taken from their families and will most likely never see their families again.
The rest of the trip only took about a week. We docked at a port to the sounds of people talking and bustling around. The white men took us out of the room and they had us follow them through the streets. When we got to the back of a warehouse, they washed us up and cleaned our teeth. Then they rubbed oil all over us and we looked very shiny. They also put us in some raggedy white man clothes. We were then led into the warehouse and there was a room full of fancy looking white men. They were talking loud to each other and pointing at us as we walked onto a stage.
A short white man in a tall hat stood at a podium and quieted everyone down. He called out some things in their language that I couldn’t understand. Some men came up to us and opened our mouths to check our teeth. They smelled us, poked, prodded, and examined us a little too closely. I was very uncomfortable with them checking my teeth and turning my head every which way. Then, everyone except the man on the podium, got back off the stage. I think that they are bidding for us. This is where we get sold. When someone got sold, they were unchained from the others and just their hands remained shackled together. Then they were given to their new owner. Some of the white men who bought a slave stayed to buy more, others left right after.
The short white man at the podium was going down the line of us. I was about in the middle of everyone so I watched at least twenty men be sold off. When it was my turn, I was nervous. I’m afraid that if no one wants to buy me then they will kill me. There were multiple bids on me as there were on the others before. I suppose that these white people are greedy and will get any slaves they can.
The man that bought me was average height, and he looked very average compared to the other men. He was a little overweight and had no facial hair. I really hope that he’s at least nice or something like that. Back in Africa, slaves are treated terribly and abused. The other men look creepy and sneaky, but this guy who bought me, looks nothing like that. But then again, if he bought me, he must be a bad man. I feel like I am being treated like livestock.
The man then takes my arm and leads me to his buggy. I haven’t ridden in one before, but I see the rich Africans ride around in them sometimes. There are horses that drag it around. The horses are whipped to go a certain way. In a way, the horses are like slaves. They have no voice to fight against their masters and they have to do what they are told. The white man motioned for me to get in the cart that was attached to the back of the car. I suppose that to him I am not human enough or worth to ride in the actual car. While in the cart, I notice that there are lots of white men and women outside. And some of them have slaves with them. The slaves were all dressed like the white people. Well, except for the fact that the slaves clothes were in a much worse shape.
We rode past large houses with even bigger plantations. My people were in the fields picking something in this hot heat. Even small children were working. At a couple of plantations I noticed a white man sitting on a horse whipping the slaves. They were whipping children and the elderly. I had to turn away at this sight and I was afraid of what it would be like for me. Seeing the treatment first hand is nothing like hearing the stories. Seeing is much worse.
We pulled up to his house and it was just as large as the others. There was also a large cotton plantation in the back; I guess that’s where I’ll be working. He ordered an older female slave who looked about the age of my mother over to us. He told her something and then she took me to a small cabin just past the white man’s house. She spoke to me and when she looked at me for assurance I shrugged because I had no idea what she was saying. That’s when she started speaking my language. That’s when I understood her. I nodded all while she talked about the rules of being a slave. She told me that I would start tomorrow because it was already late and I needed rest after my long journey.
When we got to the cabin she told me that there was still an hour or so of working for everyone so she would come back when she was done. I went into the one room house and looked around. There was a fire place, a stove, a table, some chairs, and some blankets. I assumed that they had to all share the few blankets that were provided. I decided to go outside for a bit and saw the row of ten or so houses. Behind each was a small garden and there was a small porch outside of every other house. Not the one I was staying in though. I went back inside and layed on the ground. I didn’t want to hog the covers from anyone else who needs them. A few minutes later, I dozed off to sleep.
I woke up to the sound of the door opening and closing and talking. They were talking in what the lady said was English. I looked at everyone and they looked at me. I counted six people in the room not including me. The woman told me them something and then two of them started talking to me in my native language. They told me that they would teach me English and explained what life would be like for me now a little more thoroughly than the woman did. I learned that the woman’s name was Raziya and it was changed to Ruth by the slave master. The women in the cabin were Hannah, who was about my age and was born a slave, Ruth, and Lucy, who was very old. The men were Tom, Ruth’s husband, Lewis, a big man with many scars of whippings, and last Abraham, a fairly old and wise looking man. Abe, Lucy, and Ruth could speak my language and they translated what I said to everyone else.
Ruth went out back to tend her garden and pick some carrots and then she made a small but nice dinner of carrots and herring. She told me that they were given very little food each week and that they had to serve it in small portions. Afterwards, it was time for us to sleep because, Ruth said that when the sun rose is when we wake and when it sets is when we rest. There were three blankets and I volunteered to sleep without one but they insisted that I share with them. I shared the blanket with Hannah and Abe, the two smallest people besides me.
In the morning, there was a loud gong and that was the signal to wake up. We had three minutes to get into the field and work. Ruth gave me a cloth bag and led me outside into the early morning sun and she showed me how to most effectively pick the cotton. She also told me to get into a rhythm so that I could do it faster. If I didn’t do it fast enough, well, I would get whipped by the overseer. I got into the hang of it pretty quickly, although I have to be bent over in an unfavorable position all day. Around mid-day, the sun was at full force and I was getting very tired. I was slowing down and stopping every so often to rest. When the overseer saw this he whipped me with such a force that my back burned. I let out a sound that I didn’t even know I had in my body. It hurt so much I could feel tears welling up in my eyes and it took all of the strength in my body to keep going and move faster.
I guess that the others had some sort of plan worked out for themselves because every time the overseer turned his back, they slowed for just a moment, then when he turned around again; they were at the expected speed again. I was not as smart as to catch on to this quickly so I was whipped at least three more times today. Lucy was whipped once and I think that the Overseer just whips Lewis because he is a big man. People from the other cabins were also whipped multiple times. At mid day we had a small lunch of pork and rice with a little water. Then we had to just keep working and that is what we did until it was dark again.
We went to our cabin, and Ruth began teaching me some English she started with the basic commands of the Overseer and Master. I caught on quickly to the white man’s language. And today it wasn’t until I was whipped that my situation really sunk in. I was a white man’s slave and I will be for the rest of my life.